ICANN, Kurt Pritz, Conflict of Interest, new gTLD domain names program

15 November 2012

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.


And who is Kurt Pritz?

Former ICANN Executive Kurt Pritz Joins Domain Name Association as Executive Director: "Former ICANN executive Kurt Pritz has assumed the role of interim Executive Director for the Domain Name Association, a newly formed non-profit business association that represents the interests of the domain name industry. Kurt will be working with and representing DNA during the ICANN-48 meetings in Buenos Aires. He played a key role in the growth of ICANN and is best known as the architect of ICANN's new gTLD program...."

This guy was the architect of ICANN's new gTLD domain names program! The same program ICANN adopted over the vociferous objections of governments, business groups, trademark holders, and the public interest. The same unwanted and unneeded expansion of generic top-level domains that are now polluting the domain name ecosystem that ICANN was supposed to protect and be a steward of, and are causing all of kinds of headaches, expansion of staff, multiplicity, duplicity, and explosion of expenses at ICANN. One big mess always leads to others. Some call this the Law of Bad Ideas.

What exactly was the conflict of interest that caused ICANN's Chief Strategy Officer Kurt Pritz to have to resign? And why did ICANN compensate a former officer AFTER his conflict of interest was known to some insiders (and apparently was incompatible to his duties and obligations to ICANN) at apparently an even higher rate than he was making as a full-time Chief Strategy Officer of ICANN? ICANN sure knows how to "take care" of insiders -- particularly those who resign after admitting to having a "conflict of interest" apparently incompatible with their positions and duties. But I guess this is what happens when an organization like ICANN has no members, no transparency, no accountability, and a Board of Directors with their own conflicts of interest!

No one is talking -- not even bloggers who claim to cover the domain name industry:
Pritz’s conflict of interest was with ARI | DomainIncite - Domain Name News & Opinion: "I’ve decided not to report the full details, other than to say the conflict relates to ARI Registry Services, a major provider of back-end registry services for new gTLD applicants."

Domain Name Association: "...Kurt Pritz has assumed the role as interim Executive Director for the newly created organization... "Kurt Pritz is the right man for the job of making the Domain Name Industry’s first-ever trade association a must-join organization," said Adrian Kinderis, chair of the interim board and CEO of ARI Registry Services. "He has been a long time industry participant through his senior position at ICANN ..." 

ICANN needs to "come clean" and answer the questions raised in this post which have also been raised by others -- THIS is what transparency and accountability to a global multistakeholder community is all about. And if ICANN is not up to the task (which appears to be the case), ICANN needs to get out of the way, and go away! And take your stinking new gTLDs program with you!

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