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Fight over ICANN’s $400,000 Hollywood party

Kevin Murphy, September 22, 2014, 22:20:44 (UTC), Gossip

Corporate sponsors raised $250,000 to fund a $400,000 showbiz gala for ICANN 51 next month, but ICANN pulled the plug after deciding against making up the shortfall.
Sources tell DI that the lavish shindig was set to take place at Fox Studios in Los Angeles on October 15, but that ICANN reneged on a commitment to throw $150,000 into the pot.
Meanwhile, a senior ICANN source insists that there was no commitment and that a “misunderstanding” is to blame.
ICANN announced a week ago that its 51st public meeting would be the first in a while without a gala event. In a blog post, VP Christopher Mondini blamed a lack of sponsors and the large number of attendees, writing:

One change from past meetings is that there will not be an ICANN51 gala. Historically, the gala has been organized and supported by an outside sponsor. ICANN51 will not have such a sponsor, and therefore no gala. ICANN meetings have grown to around 3,000 attendees, and so have the challenges of finding a gala sponsor.

This explanation irked some of those involved in the aborted deal. They claim that the post was misleading.
Sources say that sponsors including Fox Studios, Neustar and MarkMonitor had contractually committed $250,000 to the event after ICANN promised to deliver the remaining $150,000.
But ICANN allegedly changed its mind about its own contribution and, the next day, published the Mondini post.
“The truth is there were sponsors, the truth is it wasn’t too big,” said a source who preferred not to be named. “There was enough money there for a gala.”
The venue was to be the Fox Studios backlot, which advertises itself as being able to handle receptions of up to 4,000 people — plenty of space for an ICANN gala.
I’ve confirmed with Neustar, operator of the .us ccTLD, that it had set aside $75,000 to partly sponsor the event.
But Mondini told DI that ICANN had not committed the $150,000, and that claims to the contrary were based on a “misunderstanding” — $150,000 was the amount ICANN spent on the Singapore gala (nominally sponsored by SGNIC), not how much it intended to spend on the LA event.
“There was no ICANN commitment to make up shortfall,” he said. “It was misheard as an ICANN commitment.”
More generally, ICANN’s top brass are of the opinion that “we shouldn’t be in the business of spending lots of money on galas”, Mondini added.
“ICANN paying for galas is the exception rather than the rule,” he said.
He added that he stood by his blog post, saying that a failure to find sponsors to cover the full $400,000 tab is in fact a failure to find sponsors.

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Comments (18)

  1. Rubens Kuhl says:

    Considering that ICANN 51 will take place in ICANN’s main HQ location, ICANN will save much more than $150,000 on travel expenses for their own employees, so it could even afford the whole $400,000…
    … or, if they haven’t flew their senior staff to many IG events unrelated to critical numbering and naming resources, they could have paid for it as well.

  2. John Berard says:

    The bit that resonates beyond just the discussion of a party is this from Chris Mondini: “There was no ICANN commitment to make up shortfall,” he said. “It was misheard as an ICANN commitment.”
    Where else has ICANN been misheard making what was thought to be a commitment?

    • Richard Funden says:

      Misheard commitments:
      “I have understood and I will make sure this does not happen again”.
      “This is a second bite from the apple”.
      “ICANN stands by the multi-stakeholder system”

  3. We don’t need no stinkin’ gala. Minds + Machines is having a big ole party on Monday the 13th of October at a huge hangar at the Santa Monica airport. Write to me for an invitation. – Antony

  4. Antony – I hope you’ll be moving the shoe boxes ; )

  5. John Berryhill says:

    And when you say “I used to have a gala night at ICANN meetings,” just make sure it’s clear that “gala” is one word.

  6. Raj Domains says:

    ICANN changing its mind again… lets see what happens next.

  7. anony says:

    Icann has junkmail accredited registrar list, one registrar have shell / semi-shell companies and domains. Some are not having proper content either. Should not any ICANN convention member campaign against this junk list?

  8. Here’s and IDEA…
    instead of blowing money on unnecessary parties… feed some hungry children…
    ~Patricia Kaehler

  9. Rob says:

    Hmmm …. or they could just charge 20 bucks to get in. 3,000 people …. 600k.
    And no more problems with the frantic line up and rush for the free tickets, which are never collected anyway.
    I would also bet that if you charged 10 or 20 bucks, that you would actually get real numbers to give the caterer rather than taking all those that sign up for the conference. I have been to many a Gala with a third of it empty.
    I also bet that if you let the sponsors take that responsibility (and reward) that there would have been a gala. Most people I know would pay 20 bucks happily for the all you can eat and drink affair.

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