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New gTLD guru Kurt Pritz quits ICANN over conflict of interest

Kevin Murphy, November 15, 2012, 16:51:19 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN’s recently promoted chief strategy officer Kurt Pritz has resigned, citing a conflict of interest.
The shocking news came in a message from CEO Fadi Chehade, posted this afternoon to the ICANN web site.
Here is the message in its entirety:

To the ICANN Community,
Regretfully, I have accepted the resignation of Kurt Pritz, who has served most recently as ICANN’s Chief Strategy Officer.
Kurt has submitted his resignation because of a recently identified conflict of interest, which he immediately communicated to ICANN. After analyzing this conflict of interest, we decided that a change in Kurt’s role within ICANN would be appropriate. Kurt decided to resign his position and role as an officer of ICANN, to best serve the interests of the organization. Kurt will be engaged as a subject matter expert where needed, but will have no access to new gTLD applicant information nor will he play a role in the new gTLD program.
I have already put in place a plan for the reassignment of all of Kurt’s management responsibilities.
I would like to thank Kurt for his many years of service and commitment to ICANN and our community.

No further details were provided.
Pritz was until recently senior vice president for stakeholder relations. He was elevated to the newly created C-level position when Chehade joined ICANN in October.
He’s been ICANN’s point man for the new gTLD program for years, and his departure will be a huge loss to the organization.
His resignation follows that of new gTLD program manager Michael Salazar, who took the fall for the aborted Digital Archery fiasco this June, and comes shortly after Chehade’s incoming management shake-up.
UPDATE: Pritz, in an email to DI, declined to comment and referred questions to ICANN.
UPDATE 2: ICANN has so far declined to elaborate on the reasons for Pritz’s resignation, saying it is a “personnel matter”.
However, according to multiple sources attending an unrelated meeting at ICANN’s headquarters in Los Angeles today (discussing the Trademark Clearinghouse), a couple of hours ago Chehade disclosed that Pritz’s conflict was of a “personal”, rather than professional, nature.

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Comments (8)

  1. Volker Greimann says:

    This is indeed a surprise. Having worked with Kurt in the recent past, I cannot help but feel that this will leave a large pair of shoes to fill.
    I wish him the best in his new ventures, he will be missed.

  2. Oh, ICANN definitely needs to say more than that. ICANN staff have routinely been making “policy”, but calling it simply “implementation details.”
    How much of those past (and present) staff policy decisions are now tainted by conflicts?
    And recall, directors like Steve Crocker *didn’t* resign even though they had their own conflicts of interest. ICANN simply brushed aside all criticism, saying “taking out their votes wouldn’t have made a difference.” Not good enough.
    ICANN needs a whistleblower to really break things wide open.

  3. Sedari says:

    A massive hole will be left in the organisation at a crucial time.
    Who else but Kurt could maintain not only extraordinary grasp of fine detail but humility, diligence and a wonderful sense of humour when all about him was chaos?
    Having worked with him since the very beginning of his tenure with ICANN, I can only say what a shame it is that this has happened now.

    • Maria Farrell says:

      Hear hear, Liz. Kurt is a huge loss to the organisation, the programme and the community. As a member of the community and as a friend, I only hope he will stay involved in some way.

      • Vanda Scartezini says:

        Agree Maria, he deserves all the success in his future challenges. He dedicated so many years committed with the success of ICANN, but if there is a CoI this is the best way to deal with. I am wondering if he would like to leave or just be removed to another position, using the enormous amount of knowledge of this organization he has,! Anyway it is for him to decide and I just wish him all the best!

  4. JS says:

    what could the conflict possibly be ? Also, what meeting is Van Couvering referring to on Twitter, are there some lawsuits on the way ???

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