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Atallah shunted sideways in ICANN exec rejig

Kevin Murphy, June 7, 2013, Domain Policy

ICANN has a new COO, after incumbent Akram Atallah was moved into a new role as president of a new Generic Domains Division.

The organization has hired Susanna Bennett to replace him. She is currently with Jazz Technologies and Jazz Semiconductor, where she is CFO and VP of human resources.

The new Generic Domains Division will “focus on generic domain operations, domain name industry engagement and web services for the community” ICANN said in a press release.

Bennett is the second person to be hired from Jazz in as many months. While it wasn’t announced, Jazz alum Allen Grogan joined the legal department last month as chief contracting counsel.

Before Jazz, Grogan worked for CoreObjects, Viacore and Vocado, three of the companies that CEO Fadi Chehade led before joining ICANN.

Atallah and Chehade recently came under fire from an anonymous ICANN staffer, claiming that they’ve been causing division among employees by hiring their friends and former co-workers.

More recipients of some reshuffling today include VP of stakeholder engagement for North America Jamie Hedlund, who is becoming a “special advisor” to Chehade.

Fellow Beckstrom-era hire Christopher Mondini is moving from VP of business engagement to VP of stakeholder engagement for North America and global business engagement.

Nora Abusitta, hired in January, will become VP of public responsibility programs. She’s currently the senior director of inter-governmental development.

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Six private new gTLD auctions raise $9m

We now know (roughly) how much a new gTLD is worth.

The new gTLD contention sets for .club, .college, .luxury, .photography, .red, and .vote have been settled in a series of auctions this week that raised over $9 million.

That’s an average price of $1.5 million per string.

Writing on CircleID, Innovative Auctions project director Sheel Mohnot confirmed that the withdrawal of Donuts’ application for .vote was a result of losing the auction.

We also already know that .CLUB Domains won its auction.

But Mohnot did not reveal the winners of the other four auctions, each of which was a two-way fight between Donuts and one rival. ICANN’s web site does not yet reflect any other withdrawals.

His article does, however, quote Top Level Design and Luxury Holdings, which applied for .photography and .luxury respectively, as saying they were happy with the outcome.

Assuming they won too (which is of course not certain) that would mean Donuts lost at least four of the six auctions.

Donuts had originally submitted 63 strings to auction, but they could of course only go ahead if all of its competitors agreed to participate.

One wonders if the company submitted its lowest-value strings first in order to build up its war chest for future auctions. A good chunk of the $9 million raised will have flowed straight into its coffers.

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Private auction settles .club fight

.CLUB Domains has won the right to launch the .club gTLD at a private auction against two other applicants, according to an announcement from the company.

The company, chiefed by Tucows and Hostopia founder Colin Campbell, also said it has raised $7 million to bring the TLD to market.

Its two rivals for the string were portfolio applicants Donuts and Merchant Law Group. The auction was designed by Cramton Associates and managed by Innovative Auctions of Hong Kong.

Neither competing applicant has had their withdrawals, assuming they’ve been submitted, processed by ICANN yet.

None of the applications were subject to formal objections or Governmental Advisory Committee meddling, giving the successful bidder a relatively clear run at delegation and launch.

.CLUB Domains said in a press release:

Domains like,, and should hit the market in late 2013 or early 2014. In addition to acting as the worldwide .CLUB registry, the company has plans to offer .CLUB domain name registrants a web and mobile social platform designed specifically for member engagement and management, making it easy for clubs of any kind to establish themselves on the internet.

According to its application, the registry plans to target:

1. Social Clubs, 2. Sporting Clubs 3. Special Interest/Hobby Clubs, 4. Country Clubs 5. Buying Clubs, 6. Fraternities and Sororities, 7. Personal Clubs, 8. Professional Clubs, 9.School Clubs, 10. Service Clubs, and 11. Night Clubs.

That said, .CLUB does not plan to implement any registration restrictions; .club will be completely open.

The applicant has chosen Neustar to provide its back-end registry.

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L’Oreal’s dot-brand bites the dust

Beauty products maker L’Oreal has withdrawn its new gTLD application for .loreal.

I did not see this one coming.

L’Oreal is among the most prolific applicants for new gTLDs from the offline world, applying for 14 strings in total.

One of its marketing executives even spoke at the Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress in New York this March.

Its primary dot-brand is its first third application to be dropped.

The company has also applied for dot-brands including .maybelline, .garnier and .lancome, and generics such as .salon, .makeup, .skin and .hair, all of which still appear to be active bids.

Is this indicative of a changing gTLD strategy — perhaps the company has decided to focus on its product brands rather than its company name — or is .loreal merely the first latest of many withdrawals?

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