ICANN Names New CEO, Seeks Head of gTLD Program

The organization hired Fadi Chehadé, the CEO of Vocado, to the top position. At the same time, it is looking for a new director of the controversial gTLD program.

ICANN, the global organization that is overseeing the massive expansion of domain names on the Internet, will soon have a new CEO.

Rod Beckstom, who has been in charge of the organization since 2009, will step down as expected July 1, when his term expires. He will be replaced by Fadi Chehadé, who soon after will step in as the new president and CEO. The 50-year-old Chehadé, a resident of both Lebanon and the United States, most recently was CEO of Vocado, an American company that sells cloud-based administrative software to educational institutions.

ICANN Chairman Stephen Crocker touted Chehad這s background as a key asset for ICANN moving forward.

€œFadi has an amazing track record of success and the obvious leadership qualities to help carry ICANN into the next stage of its evolution,€ Crocker said in a statement. €œHis international background and multi-linguistic skills will help to make ICANN an ever more globally oriented organization.€

The CEO change was expected since August 2011, when Beckstrom announced he would step down at the end of his term.

Even as the organization settled its CEO position, it now is looking for a person who was overseeing the expansion of the generic top-level domains (gTLDs), a controversial program that less than two weeks ago announced that more than 1,000 organizations had filed 1,930 applications for new gTLDs that will join the 22 now in service, including .com, .gov, .org and .edu.

ICANN announced June 21 that Michael Salazar, who had been director of the group€™s New gTLD Program, had resigned from both that position and as vice president for stakeholder relations. Senior Vice President Kurt Pritz will oversee the program on an interim basis. The organization gave no details about why Salazar resigned.

Chehadé said he was looking forward to the challenge of running ICANN.

€œI have spent most of my professional career building consensus among various stakeholders from around the world,€ he said in a statement. €œI am naturally humbled to now be able to lead an organization that defines itself by an international multi-stakeholder model and one that is the very core of the security and stability of the Internet.€

Chehad這s previous experience also includes being the founder and CEO of RosettaNet and spending time as an executive at IBM. He will start sometime before Oct. 1. After July 1, COO Akram Atallah will be the interim CEO until Chehadé arrives.

Much of ICANN€™s time over the next year or more will be spent dealing with the flood of new gTLD applications. The organization€™s officials for seven years have been planning the domain name expansion, saying that having as many as 1,000 new gTLDs will mean greater choice for consumers and greater competition in the industry.

€œWe are standing at the cusp of a new era of online innovation, innovation that means new businesses, new marketing tools, new jobs, new ways to link communities and share information,€ Beckstrom told journalists during a conference call June 13.

As far as tech companies, Google and Amazon were among the most active in applying for new top-level domains, with each filing at least three dozen. They made pitches for at least 17 of the same gTLDs including .book, .game, .dev, .map, .movie and .music. Other companies, such as Microsoft, also were aggressive with applications.

Control of such domain names is important. Whichever organization wins them will have influence over other companies looking to use them in their Web addresses.

However, getting to this point hasn€™t been a smooth process for ICANN. Some law enforcement agencies have worried that expanding the number of gTLDs by so many will benefit spammers and hamper online investigations. Other concerns have focused on the possibilities of cyber-squatters and counterfeiters, and that some businesses may have felt forced to pay the $185,000 application fee as a defensive measure to ensure that some other organization didn€™t grab their domain name.

After the applicants were announced, other worries arose, including the idea of huge Web companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft gaining control over so many gTLDs.

With the applications in hand, ICANN officials now must start the lengthy process of reviewing the applications and deciding which ones can become official and which should be denied. The first of the new top-level domains could begin appearing as soon as early 2013, though it could take longer for others.