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Is social media the answer to the dot-brand problem?

With many dot-brand gTLD applicants still unsure about how they will use their new namespaces, the maker of the Kred reputation service is proposing social media as the answer.

Speaking to DI today, Kred CEO Andrew Grill said that one dot-brand applicant — a bank — has already committed to use parent company PeopleBrowsr’s new Social OS platform for its gTLD.

Social OS is being marketed as a way for companies to quickly launch their own social media networks along the lines of Facebook or LinkedIn.

Dot-brands would be able to own the customer relationship and get access to much more data about their users than they get with the limited “Like”-oriented Facebook platform, Grill said.

End users would be able to use these vertical networks using their existing social media log-in credentials, he said.

The company plans to use the platform in its own gTLD, .ceo, which it has applied for uncontested.

Grill said he talked to about 100 people at the recent ICANN meeting in Durban and expects to come away with five to 10 additional customers for the Social OS platform.

While the value proposition for new gTLD owners seems fairly reasonable, in general I’m quite skeptical about the internet’s need for more social media sites.

Any such service operated by a dot-brand would have to have a fairly compelling value proposition for end users.

Grill said that a car maker, for example, could use its own gTLD social media network to keep in touch with its customers — giving them a second-level domain when they buy one of its vehicles.

A bank, meanwhile, could offer services such as customer-to-customer transaction apps for users who have second-level domains in its gTLD. If registrations were limited to existing banking customers, a greater level of security would be baked in from the start, he said.

Former ICANN VP calls bull on Beckstrom’s exit speech

Kevin Murphy, June 26, 2012, Domain Policy

If you were following DI on Twitter during the opening ceremony of ICANN 44 yesterday, you may have noticed I only tweeted one direct quote from incoming CEO Fadi Chehade.

I pulled this one line out of what was a fairly long and passionate address because I had a “hunch” what might be coming up next when outgoing CEO Rod Beckstrom took the stage for the final time.

Now, former ICANN vice president of corporate affairs Paul Levins has called out his old boss for taking credit where credit may not be due.

Beckstrom said, during his opening remarks:

My first day on the job, I was given a blank sheet of paper and I was told that the Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Commerce of the US government was not going to be renewed by ICANN.

And I was told, “You better come up with something better and you have to get it done in 90 days because the MoU is going to expire.”

Together we worked and we created the Affirmation of Commitments.

The MoU and the AoC which replaced it have been ICANN’s primary statements of legitimacy with the US government, spelling out its responsibilities to the internet community.

Levins, writing on CircleID last night, calls Beckstrom out on the statement.

We were not starting with a blank piece of paper. It’s to his credit that he allowed that to continue, but it’s not healthy to perpetuate a belief that what replaced the Joint Project Agreement — the Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) — was miraculously developed in the space of only weeks prior to the expiration of the JPA — that an accountability rabbit was pulled from the hat.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It was ultimately the result of ten years of community effort.

But in the lead up to the JPA expiry, the direct negotiating and writing team was me, Theresa Swinehart and importantly — from the Department of Commerce (DoC) — the willing, creative and sincere cooperation of Fiona Alexander and Larry Atlas the then Senior Advisor at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Communication at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The first written draft of the AoC had been produced over the eight months prior to Beckstrom’s arrival, Levins writes.

It’s fairly well known that Levins was one of the first people to lose his job under Beckstrom, but several others who were on ICANN staff at the time have confirmed to DI that the AoC was developed as Levins says.

His op-ed doesn’t strike me, in that light, as a full case of sour grapes.

Levins, who seems to be one of the many ICANN attendees who was impressed by Chehade’s debut address yesterday, signs off his editorial with what could be considered advice to both Chehade and Beckstrom:

…truth and sincerity is what should continue to drive the AoC’s ongoing implementation. But it should also drive the corporate memory of its creation.

Humility was a personality trait that ICANN specifically asked for when it advertised the CEO’s job earlier this year.

Judging by the reactions of ICANN 44 attendees who listened to Chehade’s speech yesterday — and have met him — humility is something Chehade appears to possess in buckets.

Everybody I’ve spoken to so far is impressed with the new guy, though some have also pointed out that they felt the same way this time in 2009.

Egyptian software exec is ICANN’s new CEO

Kevin Murphy, June 22, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN has named Fadi Chehade as its new CEO.

Lebanon-born Chehade is a California-based software industry executive currently CEO of Vocado, a maker of educational software.

“I’m here because I owe the internet everything I’ve achieved to date,” he said at a press conference (ongoing).

He’s not due to take over until October 1. Until then, COO Akram Atallah will hold the reins, ICANN confirmed.

Chehade has known Atallah since they were kids — they used to be in the same boy scout troop, he said — and they worked together at Core Objects, where Chehade was CEO.

ICANN chairman Steve Crocker pointed to Chehade’s role as founder of RosettaNet, a supply chain software standards consortium, as evidence of his experience of consensus-building work.

ICANN CEO to be announced Friday

Kevin Murphy, June 18, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN will reveal the identity of its new CEO at a press conference this coming Friday.

But there’s a rumor going around that he or she is not expected to actually join the organization until September.

ICANN has just issued a press release stating that it will hold a news conference in Prague at 1600 local time (1400 UTC) during which Rod Beckstrom’s replacement will take questions from reporters.

People have been asking me for months if I know who it is and I have to say I haven’t got a clue.

The latest rumor doing the rounds, however, is that whoever has been selected will not actually take the helm until later this year.

I’ve heard September from some sources and October from others, but ICANN is currently declining to confirm or deny the rumor.

Beckstrom announced his departure from ICANN a year ago. His contract expires at the end of the month and is not expected to be extended.

ICANN affirms full refunds for pissed-off gTLD applicants, silent on new CEO

Kevin Murphy, May 8, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN’s board of directors has approved full refunds for any new gTLD applicant that asks for one – something that the organization has already been offering for over a month.

At its two-day retreat in Amsterdam this weekend, the board’s New gTLD Program Committee resolved:

to offer to applicants a full refund of the New gTLD Application fee actually paid to ICANN if the applicant wishes to withdraw its application prior to the date that ICANN publicly posts the identification of all TLD applications.

The date of the Big Reveal, when the names of every applicant and every applied-for gTLD will be publicly posted and the refunds will no longer be available, has not yet been set.

While the resolution refers to the TLD Application System data leakage bug, the refund does not appear to be restricted to directly affected applicants. Anyone can claim it.

However, as regular DI readers know, ICANN had been offering full refunds to applicants that withdraw before the Big Reveal for weeks before the TAS bug emerged.

ICANN customer services reps told DI and at least one gTLD applicant in March that: “Applications withdrawn prior to the posting of the applied-for strings are qualified for a $180000 refund”.

ICANN said in a statement today:

We recognize that this represents an increase of only US $5000 over the refund that withdrawing applicants would otherwise receive, but we believe it is an important part of fulfilling our commitment to treat applicants fairly.

Under the terms of the Applicant Guidebook, the maximum refund available after the Reveal is $148,000.

In other news from Amsterdam…

The ICANN board has decided to let director Thomas Narten join the New gTLD Program Committee, which comprises all of the board members without new gTLD conflicts of interest.

Narten had been barred from the recently formed committee because he worked for IBM, which planned to apply for one or more new gTLDs.

But the board said he has now “mitigated the previously-identified conflict of interest with respect to the New gTLD Program”, so he gets to join the committee as a non-voting liaison.

It’s not clear from the weekend’s resolution why Narten is no longer conflicted. Two obvious possibilities spring to mind.

There was no news from Amsterdam on ICANN’s CEO hunt.

Incumbent Rod Beckstrom intends to “hand the baton” to his successor at the Prague meeting in late June, and the board already has a favored candidate lined up to replace him.

I understand that this candidate did attend the Amsterdam board retreat, albeit under a veil of secrecy lest his or her identity leak out before official confirmation.

But I also understand that the board has decided to move super-cautiously on the CEO decision, in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.