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Van Gelder leaves NBT, goes solo with consulting biz

Kevin Murphy, December 12, 2012, Domain Services

Stephane Van Gelder, who co-founded the French registrar Indom in 1999, is leaving the company at the end of the year.

He’s founding a new company, Stephane Van Gelder Consulting, saying he wants to provide consulting services to domain portfolio owners, registrars and registries.

Indom was acquired by European registrar holding company Group NBT two years ago for about $22 million.

Van Gelder was until October chair of ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization Council, and has recently kindly provided DI with a few provocative guest posts.

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List your job openings for free on DI Jobs

Kevin Murphy, December 12, 2012, Domain Services

DI Jobs has been given a total overhaul, and I’m pleased to announced that you can now list your domain name industry job openings completely free of charge.

You can check out the new site here.

The new service supports logos, maps, tags, and allows extensive job descriptions to be uploaded. After posting, ads can be edited by the poster via the account interface.

It’s new software, so should be considered a “beta” for the time being, but early testers tell me everything is functioning as expected so far.

It’s our intention to keep the listing service free forever, though we may introduced premium-placement options at a later date.

DI JOBS

DI JOBS

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Go Daddy gets its fourth CEO in a year

Kevin Murphy, December 12, 2012, Domain Registrars

Go Daddy has appointed Blake Irving, formerly of Microsoft and Yahoo, as its new CEO.

He’s the fourth man to take the top spot at the market-leading registrar in the last 12 months.

Founding CEO Bob Parsons stepped aside for his protege COO Warren Adelman a year ago, but he too was replaced in August by the company’s new investors.

Irving was most recently chief products officer at Yahoo, but has spent most of his career as a Microsoftie, heading up the Windows Live platform at the tail end of his 15-year tenure.

He will take over from interim CEO Scott Wagner of KKR Ventures on January 7 next year.

Domain Name Wire has a few quotes from the new guy over here.

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YouPorn owner arrested in tax evasion probe

Kevin Murphy, December 10, 2012, Domain Registries

YouPorn owner and regular ICM Registry antagonist Fabian Thylmann has reportedly been arrested in Belgium in connection with a German tax evasion investigation.

He was taken into custody at Brussels airport today under a warrant from the Cologne District Court, according to German daily Die Welt.

Thylmann is the owner — some say nominally so — of Manwin Licensing, the online porn empire behind brands such as YouPorn, Brazzers and, under license, Playboy.

Manwin sued ICANN and ICM late last year over the .xxx gTLD, saying it violates US antitrust laws, charges which are denied.

The company is also engaged in an ICANN Independent Review Panel procedure over the same issues.

ICM says that the lawsuit, and a related boycott, are merely attempts to disrupt its business. Thylmann, the company claims, offered to invest in ICM but was rebuffed.

According to Die Welt, Manwin’s German headquarters was raided last Tuesday as part of an ongoing tax evasion probe, which was spurred in part by the newspaper’s own investigation into the company.

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Ombudsman asks DCA to simmer down after .africa conflict of interest complaint

Kevin Murphy, December 10, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN’s Ombudsman dismissed a complaint from DotConnectAfrica about alleged conflicts of interest on ICANN’s board of directors, but scolded DCA for its “intemperate” blog posts.

DCA complained in October that two members of the board — Mike Silber and Chris Disspain — have conflicts of interest in relation to the contested .africa gTLD.

DCA has applied for .africa without notable government support, whereas South African registry Uniforum has applied with formal backing from most African governments.

According to DCA’s complaint, as described by Ombudsman Chris LaHatte in a new blog post, Disspain and Silber somehow have conflicts of interest related to this contention set.

Silber is treasurer of ZADNA, the South African domain name authority, which oversees .za policy and ergo Uniforum’s ccTLD business, which is arguably a close connection to the .africa applicant.

Disspain is CEO of auDA, which oversees policy for Australia’s .au ccTLD and therefore has a relationship with AusRegistry, a major back-end provider for new gTLD applicants.

It’s not at all obvious what the alleged conflict of interest related to .africa is in Disspain’s case.

When LaHatte asked DCA executive director Sophia Bekele to explain the precise nature of the conflicts, he did not receive any information beyond identification of these two employment connections, both of which are already fully disclosed by ICANN.

Both men are members of the board’s New gTLD Program Committee, which wields the board’s power over the new gTLD program and is designed to comprise only non-conflicted directors.

LaHatte blogged that he was unable to find any discussion of .africa in any board or committee meeting minutes — because ICANN has not discussed any individual gTLD applications yet — and was therefore unable to find any unfair treatment of DCA.

Dealing with unfair treatment is of course the Ombudsman’s job. LaHatte concluded:

I consider that no disqualifying conflict of interest, or indeed any conflict of interest at all, is present in the actions of both Chris Disspain and Mike Silber. It is likely this complaint has led to increased awareness of the possibilities of conflict of interest, which the Board will carefully consider in terms of the existing policy about conflict, when the issue arises. I consider this should continue to be a matter for consideration in gTLD decision making by the Board.

But the Ombudsman also, it seems, had some concerns about the nature of DCA’s lobbying campaign over the last several months, which has been as vitriolic has it has been scattershot.

As previously noted, some of its allegations against its .africa rival have been baffling.

LaHatte clearly picked up on the tone of the debate also, blogging:

There has been considerable amount of discussion on blogs, Twitter and other sites and in comments on the ICANN website in relation to the new .africa gTLDs applications. Regrettably much of the discussion has been intemperate.

An aspect of this application has been the unfortunate tone of much of the debate on various websites blogs and other places. During the course of this investigation I discussed this with Sophia Bekele (at the Toronto meeting) and suggested that perhaps a less aggressive approach would be appropriate. She readily agreed to this.

The discussion and debate continues to be fairly vigorous, but I would suggest to the competing parties for .africa that they should pay attention to the ICANN rules about respectful communication.

As Uniforum has said little, and DCA a lot, I can also assume that the blog posts being referred to are DCA’s.

The company has for several months regularly posted often incomprehensible allegations on its blog, usually in multicolored text with liberal use of italics and bold.

Bekele was also last week rumbled using a fake identity on a mailing list to support DCA’s position.

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