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ICANN salary porn: 2021 edition

Kevin Murphy, May 3, 2022, Domain Policy

It’s that time of year again when ICANN publishes its tax returns and we all get to ogle the phat paychecks its top brass are cutting themselves with domain registrants’ money.

Headlining, CEO Göran Marby actually got paid a bit less in fiscal 2021, which ended last June, than he did the previous year — $908,674, plus another $68,866 from “other” sources.

That total of $977,540 is lower than the total of $1,059,222 he received in fiscal 2020, largely due to receiving about $94,000 less in bonus payments.

Marby was given a 5% pay raise in February 2021, though not without some director dissent.

The Form 990 goes on to disclose the salaries of 35 ICANN management and directors, showing that 19 of them make over $300,00 a year. Five, including Marby, receive over half a million dollars.

Directors, if they choose to draw a salary, take home a flat $45,000, which is sometimes paid to their companies instead. Chair Maarten Botterman had $75,000 paid to his consulting company.

The filing reveals that VP Cyrus Namazi, who left the Org during the period after attracting sexual harassment complaints from at least two female colleagues, was given a $375,000 golden parachute.

And former COO Susanna Bennett was given $380,380 in severance payments, despite the fact that her departure was originally described by Marby as her own voluntary decision.

Law firm Jones Day was the best-paid contractor, billing $8,769,608 in the year. That was up from $5,513,028 in the previous year.

Software developers Architect, Zensar and OSTechnical received $2,769,856, $1,396,232 and $1,093,070 respectively, presumably for work on the ICANN web site.

ICANN’s revenue for the year was $163,942,482, of which $97.5 million came from registrars and registries.

The Org had $555,804,201 in assets at the end of the year.

You can download the forms here.

ICANN CEO is first to get paid over $1,000,000 a year

Kevin Murphy, May 12, 2021, Domain Policy

ICANN CEO Göran Marby was paid over a million bucks out of the domain-buying public’s pocket in the org’s fiscal 2020, newly released tax documents show.

He’s now, I believe, the best-paid CEO ICANN’s ever had and the first to make more than $1 million per year in the role.

ICANN’s FY20 tax return, which covers the year to June 30, 2020, discloses Marby’s total reportable compensation as $991,557, with another $67,665 in estimated additional compensation, making a total of $1,059,222.

That’s an increase of $193,652 over the $865,570 he received in FY19.

Marby’s been making more than immediate predecessor Fadi Chehadé for a few years, but now he’s also overtaken Rod Beckstrom, who made $961,672 in 2012, his last full year on the job.

Neither Beckstrom nor his predecessor Paul Twomey ever quite made it into seven figures.

This February, ICANN’s board of directors voted to give Marby another 5% pay raise, though a few directors voted against the package.

ICANN’s form 990 tax releases also disclose salaries for another 36 senior staff and board members, showing 19 of them get paid more than $300,000 a year.

Five, including Marby, made over half a million, though a few of those are no longer with the organization.

General counsel John Jeffrey, the second-biggest earner, now has total compensation of $709,784, compared to the $314,628 he was getting 10 years ago when he was in exactly the same job.

As the world burns, ICANN gives its richest execs huge pay rises

Kevin Murphy, June 24, 2020, Domain Policy

ICANN has just given some of its highest-ranking and richest execs pay rises of up to 15%, even as the world stands on the brink of a global recession and ICANN is predicting its own budget is on the verge of huge shrinkage.

Its board of directors has approved a set of pay deals that would see the CFO, Xavier Calvez — a man who has, year-after-year, consistently failed to predict fluctuations in the domain name industry with any degree of accuracy — a pay rise of 15%.

John Jeffrey, the general counsel, is getting 3.5%, despite his record of losing legal cases and covering up incidents of sexual harassment among ICANN staff.

Theresa Swinehart, newly-minted senior vice president of the Global Domains Division, is getting a 10% pay increase on top of her base salary, which was $459,123 in FY19.

Not only that, but CEO Göran Marby has been granted broad discretion to increase salaries in the same range for other, non-officer ICANN employees.

Marby himself has been granted his second-half bonus, which amounts to over $100,000.

Based on disclosed salaries for ICANN’s fiscal 2019, we can take a punt on how much money this will cost ICANN — and by “ICANN” I of course mean “you”, the domain-registering public, who pays for every cent of ICANN’s budget.

According to ICANN’s fiscal 2019 form 990, Calvez had “reportable compensation” of $445,964. That’s not including another $62,000 in additional compensation.

For him, a 15% pay raise on the base number is an extra almost $68,000 a year, making his salary (excluding extras) now comfortably over half a million dollars a year.

I’m sure there are many readers of this blog who would consider $68k a nice-enough base salary. But no, that’s his annual raise this year.

This is the guy who, for the better part of a decade, has had to wildly meddle with the revenue half of ICANN’s budget every six months because he couldn’t seem to get a grip on how the new gTLD market was playing out.

He’s also the guy predicting an 8% decline in revenue for ICANN’s next fiscal year due to coronavirus, even as he admits its current revenue has been so far unaffected and most of its biggest funders say everything is going really rather well.

Swinehart is going to get an extra $46,000 a year.

Jeffrey’s raise amounts to an extra $21,000 on top of his $604,648 FY19 base salary.

Remember, he’s the guy in charge of ICANN’s legal department, which is consistently beaten in Independent Review Panel cases, and who is ultimately responsible for the decision to not disclose the existence of the sexual harassment cases that have been filed against ICANN by its own employees in recent years.

The reason these three in particular have been given angry-laughable pay rises is the recently-announced executive reshuffle, which I blogged about earlier this month.

The three of them have had their jobs merged with those of two recent departures — COO Susanna Bennett, who’s leaving for undisclosed reasons shortly, and GDD president Cyrus Namazi, who quit following (but, you know, not necessarily because of) sexual harassment allegations earlier this year.

Combined, Namazi and Bennett were taking $860,000 a year out of the ICANN purse, so ICANN is still saving money by increasing the salaries of their replacements by about $134,000.

But the question has to be asked: how much extra work are these execs doing for this money? How many extra hours a day are they putting in to earn what to many people would be a whole year’s salary?

I expect the answer is: none.

I expect the answer is that ICANN didn’t need the number of six-figure execs it had previously, and now that’s it’s lost a couple of them it’s handing out your cash to those who chose to stick around mainly because it can and it hopes nobody will notice or care.

ICANN’s board resolution says that its decision to raise salaries is based on “independent market data provided by outside expert compensation consultants”.

ICANN has long had a “philosophy” of paying its top people in the “50th to 75th percentile for total cash compensation based on comparable market data for the respective positions”.

It’s never been entirely clear which entities ICANN compares itself to when making these judgements.

ICANN chief gets $100k bonus

Kevin Murphy, January 21, 2019, Domain Policy

ICANN CEO Goran Marby has been awarded almost $100,000 of his annual bonus.
The ICANN board of directors last week voted to approve the first half of his fiscal year 2019 “at risk compensation”, what ICANN calls the discretionary, performance-driven part of its executive compensation packages.
Marby’s salary is $653,846.17 per annum, and the at-risk component is an additional 30% of that. Half of the bonus comes to just over $98,000.
His base pay is about $23,000 more than immediate predecessor Fadi Chehade, but considerably less than two-CEOs-ago Rod Beckstrom, who took home $750,000 and, if it was paid, $195,000 in bonuses.
While at-risk compensation is based on predetermined goals, these goals are not typically made public.
ICANN salaries are based on paying between the 50th and 75th percentile of average wages across the high-tech, non-profit and general industry.