Stéphane Van Gelder

Stéphane Van Gelder

Joined on August 27, 2008
Total Post Views: 792,641


Stéphane Van gelder is a veteran of the domain industry and an experienced journalist. He heads Milathan, a provider of domain name and Internet consultancy services.

Previously, Stéphane was General Manager at StartingDot, the operator of the .ARCHI, .BIO and .SKI new gTLDs. The company was acquired by Afilias in 2016.

Before StartingDot, Stéphane was General Manager at Indom. He co-founded Indom in 1999 and the company was acquired by Group NBT in 2010.

Stéphane is an international correspondant for print and TV mediaHe specialises in motorsports, the automotive industry and the Internet.

Stéphane has a long history of volunteer service at ICANN, including serving as Chair of the Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO) and the Nominating Committee.

Stéphane earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Sussex University (UK).

Except where otherwise noted, all postings by Stéphane Van Gelder on CircleID are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Featured Blogs

How Aruba is Using Racing Sponsorship to Make Itself a Premium Brand

Sitting in the Aruba hospitality at the Italian round of the Superbike World Championship in Imola, CEO Stefano Cecconi exudes passion. The love he has for motorcycles in general, and racing in particular, is evident. Less so is the rational behind Aruba's multi-million-euro-a-year spend to be the title sponsor for the factory Ducati World Superbike team. For Internet industry onlookers at least. more

Work in Progress: Preparing the Next Round of New gTLDs

There are now more than a thousand new Internet suffixes alongside "the originals" (not talking vampires here, but rather .COM et al). These additional web address endings are called "new gTLDs". Since Internet technical coordinator ICANN's 2012 call for applications for the creation of new gTLDs, and their roll-out starting in 2014 when suffixes such as .BARCLAYS (brand TLD), .NYC (geo TLD) and .SKI (generic TLD) became active, the question of another round of applications has been asked repeatedly. more

Geo and Brand TLDs Only for a 2019 Second Round of New gTLDs?

Let's be clear: right now, any statements on when (or even if) a follow-up round of new gTLD applications might happen are pure conjecture. The first round closed on April 12, 2012. Since then, the pressure has been increasing for ICANN to actually live up to the guidebook premise of launching "subsequent gTLD application rounds as quickly as possible" with "the next application round to begin within one year of the close of the application submission period for the initial round." But that deadline is clearly not going to be met. more

Is 2017 Crunch Time for the Domain Industry?

Verisign's spent the best part of 2016 putting out warnings. The .COM operator and domain industry heavyweight highlighted its Q3 earnings report with a stern "Ending Q4 '16 Domain Name Base expected to decrease by between 1.5M to 2.8M registrations from the end of Q3 '16". A forecast which the company said was based on "on historical seasonality and current market trends." As 2016 drew to a close, the downturn seemed to materialize... more

Can the Internet Work Across Borders?

On the face of it, the answer is a rather obvious and simple "yes"! The Internet obviously works across borders. Technically, it is a global network servicing its users wherever they may be on the planet. But it is this very nature -- the fact that the Internet is not bound to a specific country or territory -- which has more and more people asking themselves whether it can really work across borders. more

What Will ICANN Do with the $135 Million It Just Got for .WEB?

ICANN has just made USD $135 million from an auction completed today (July 29, 2016) to determine who gets to operate .WEB. The auction was part of ICANN's last resort mechanism, when several parties applied for the same suffix but were unable to resolve this contention by themselves. ICANN has just more than doubled its auction proceeds in one go. more

ICANN CEO Farewell Letter Overlooks Innovation

Departing ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé has penned a goodbye letter to the organisation's Board as he prepares to leave this March. The 7-page letter reads like a long list of Chehadé's achievements since he took over the helm in 2012. Whilst there can be little doubt about Chehadé's tireless energy and dedication to making ICANN a more effective governance mechanism for the Internet, his celebration of the last four years seems to overlook one important opportunity. more

Premium TLDs, Real Value for Money

There is an intrinsic value proposition to new gTLDs. They mean to give users fresh naming possibilities and provide more meaningful Internet addresses. And to do so at much reduced prices. Reduced prices? Really? This is where eyebrows start being raised. How so? Well before the advent of new gTLDs, few suffixes offered any real ability to differentiate. Users thus looked to the second level, not the top level, for a way to get their web addresses to stand out from the crowd. So began a vicious circle of value going to the limited number of meaningful second level names since at TLD level, the only string with any real equity was .COM. more

Rage Against the ICANN Machine

I'm going to do what no professional journalist should ever do: take a story at face value. So full disclosure: I have not checked the facts behind the story that sparked this little rant I'm about to embark on. But I've known the author for a number of years as being a consummate professional when it comes to reporting facts. And I've known ICANN, the organisation, for even longer. I have therefore seen first hand the organisation's ability to be at times borderline duplicitous in its attempts to reach a desired result.

Premium Generics, the Domain Industry’s Luxury Goods

Categories. The mere mention of the word risks eliciting groans from any domain industry specialist. In the run up to the new gTLD program, this concept was oft discussed. It seemed obvious to most that TLDs were not a homogenous ensemble but instead, could exist in many different shapes and sizes. Except to ICANN staff. They systematically refused to entertain the notion of categories. Even when ICANN Board members suggested some kind of recognition for different TLD types should be hardwired into the program! more

Next gTLDs: 2016 or 2019?

On September 22, 2014, ICANN published an analysis of the review and assessment work that remains to be done before a new round of gTLD (generic Top Level Domain) applications can be initiated. According to the document, 2016 is the earliest a call for the next lot of applications to operate an Internet suffix could come. To many, a subsequent application window so soon after the 2012 round seems unrealistic. more

ICANN Board Appoints 2015 NomCom Chair

During its September 9, 2014 meeting, the ICANN Board selected the Chair of the 2015 Nominating Committee (NomCom). The 2015 NomCom will begin its work In Los Angeles, immediately after the close of ICANN's 51st International Meeting due to be held in mid-October. ICANN's Nominating Committee is charged with identifying, recruiting and selecting nominees of the highest possible quality for key leadership positions at ICANN. more

France Wants IGF Replaced by World Internet Council

Last week, the French Senate unveiled a proposal which, if enacted, would bring sweeping changes to the Internet Governance landscape. A Senate working group worked on the proposal for 6 months. Although it is not only focussed on IG, the report can be seen as a further indictment of ICANN, following French Secretary for the Digital Economy Axelle Lemaire's claim that the organisation is no longer the right place to discuss IG. more

Universal Acceptance of All TLDs Now!

Universal acceptance of top level domains hasn't really meant much to most Internet users up until now. As long as .COM was basically the default TLD, there wasn't much of an issue. No longer. With 263 delegated strings (according to ICANN's May 12, 2014 statistics) adding to the existing 22 gTLDs that were already live on the net after the 2004 round of Internet namespace expansion, the problem of universal acceptance gets very real. more

IANA Transition Set to Disrupt ICANN Operations

The US Government's decision to transition its oversight of the IANA function to a multi-national, multi stakeholder organisation is set to impact ICANN's standard operations. On April 25, ICANN Board Chair Steve Crocker send an email to the ICANN community leaders suggesting changes to the agenda for the upcoming 50th International ICANN meeting, set to be held in London from June 22 to 26. more

EU to ICANN: Go Back to Drawing Board on Auctions!

The European Commission is not a big fan of the David versus Goliath ICANN new gTLD auction scenario. On December 12 last year, ICANN released a set of revised public auction rules. These auctions are presented as the avenue of last resort for resolving new gTLD contentions. As is ICANN's custom, the rules were put out for public comment. The EU submitted its statement on the very last day of the comment reply period. more

Islamic TLDs and the Challenge of Good Governance

As governments ask themselves whether they should not be the only ones in charge, and everyone else is more determined than ever to stay involved, Internet governance is now a front-page topic. But away from the theoretical debates about which model is best, one real-life situation may end up looking strangely like a vindication of the multi-stakeholder model by governmental organisations. The situation in question is that of Islam and Halal. Two applications that look like they are caught in a kind of new gTLD program groundhog day. more

Think ICANN Will End Up Rolling in New gTLD Cash? Think Again!

January 2014. The first registry contracts have been signed. The first Sunrise priority registration periods have been opened. The new gTLD program is well on the way. So maybe now, at last, we can start to find out the real costs of opening up the Internet root? And how much revenue doing so has brought ICANN! Short answer: ICANN has taken in USD 344.958 million from the first round of new gTLD applications. The figure comes from the first of ICANN's quarterly financial statements, covering the three months up until September 30th. more

Brand TLDs Become Official

It seems that pigs can, after all, fly. From the start of its new gTLD program, ICANN ignored what was obvious to pretty much everyone else: corporations might wish to apply for their brands and run them as closed ecosystem TLDs servicing only the brands in question. No longer. By releasing a proposed addendum to its registry contract, called Specification 13, ICANN has done two things it has always said it would never do: acknowledged that "brand TLDs" should be considered in the new gTLD program, and created a new category of TLD for this specific class of application. more

Will the ICANN Auctions Kill off New gTLD Innovation?

As the launch of the first of the new gTLDs draws ever closer, more and more applicants are beginning to publicise their business models and ideas for putting the Domain Name System (DNS) to good use. By doing so, they are also shedding light on what promises to be a far less uniform Top Level for the Internet than might have previously been feared. A schism is appearing in the type of applicant/TLD model being enacted. Up until now, Donuts, Google et al have tended to hold the spotlight, and for good reason. more

Fighting for Smaller New gTLD Applicants

Will new gTLDs just be more of the same, or will they bring real diversity and innovation to the Internet's namespace? For Hong Kong based Stable Tone, applicant for two Chinese character IDN TLDs (?? or "Dot WORLD" and ?? or "Dot HEALTHY"), it's the smaller applicants that give the new gTLD program its soul. more

ICANN Explains “Brazil Meeting” Initiative

Given the post-Prism political climate, it should come as no surprise that the 8th edition of the UN-initiated Internet Governance Forum (IGF), currently happening in Bali (Indonesia), is showing record-braking attendance with more than 2,000 delegates. With a byline of "building bridges: enhancing multistakeholder cooperation for growth and sustainable development", the meeting's main theme is clearly the need to evolve the current model for Internet Governance. But not quite everyone has the same view on exactly how that should happen.  more

ICANN’s Strong Rebuke to Verisign’s Chuck Gomes

Word to the wise: Fadi Chehadé's ICANN isn't going to take criticism lying down! In the past, the organisation has tended to react to criticism with a silence that was probably considered a way to avoid aggravating critics any further, but instead tended to infuriate people that were expecting answers. No longer. Since Chehadé came in as CEO, they get answers! more

ICANN Board Selects 2014 Nominating Committee Leadership Team

The ICANN Board has just announced its selections for the next Nominating Committee's leadership. As a reminder, the Nominating Committee (NomCom) is designed to ensure skilled individuals go into key ICANN leadership position. Every year, its recruitment and selection process leads to appointments for positions on the GNSO (Generic Names Supporting Organisation - ICANN's policy-making body for generic domains), the ccNSO (country code Names Supporting Organisation) and ALAC (At Large Advisory Committee). more

Is the Risk Real With the New gTLD Program? (An Interview with Verisign)

It's late in the new gTLD day and the program looks to be inching ever closer to the finish line. Yet last minute hiccups seem to be a recurring theme for this ambitious project to expand the Internet namespace far beyond the 300 odd active TLDs in existence today (counting generics and country codes). A drive for growth which is already underway, with 63 gTLD contracts now signed as of mid September... But will those users find themselves at greater risk because of this namespace expansion? That's what several parties have been asking in recent months. more

The Maturing Domain Industry

Day one of the Digital Marketing and gTLD Strategy congress is happening in London today. As we inch ever closer to new gTLDs actually launching on the Internet, business models and marketing approaches are becoming clearer and better defined. This was evident in today's presentations and workshops, with applicants and current TLD operators alike showing much greater depth of thought into how these namespaces might actually be of use to Internet users. more

ICANN Bans Dotless Domains

Any new top level domain approved for the Internet will have to be more than just a single label. ICANN's new gTLD program committee (NGPC) has decided to ban the use of "dotless domains". TLD operators that had planned to use their new suffix as a keyword, i.e. just the string and nothing else, will now have to reconsider. more

Panels Rule No Confusion Exists Between Singular and Plural New gTLD Strings

If early International Centre for Dispute Resolution decisions are anything to go by, as far as dispute resolution panellists are concerned, singular and plural versions of the same string do not risk causing user confusion. Tasked with handling string confusion objections under the new gTLD program, the ICDR has just rejected an objection by Google against Donuts' application for .CARS. Google has applied for .CAR. more

ICANN Chairman’s Durban Roundup

Respected ICANN Chairman of the Board Steve Crocker has wrapped up his organisation's 47th International Meeting, held in Durban last week, with a message to the community. This message, reproduced here in its entirety, provides both a useful and concise summary of the Durban meeting and insights into the Chairman's view of where ICANN stands at the moment, the successes it has notched up and the challenges it faces. more

The Technical Impact of New gTLDs: Are We Pushing on Regardless?

Have some security aspects been overlooked in the rush to conclude the new gTLD program and "give birth to the baby before it starts to get really sick" as ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé put it at a briefing jointly organised by ICANN and the European Commission a few days ago? Ever since 2008 when the ICANN Board approved the GNSO-evolved policy that became the new gTLD program, it has been reworked so much that it's difficult to imagine any stone has been left unturned. Yet a recent letter threatens to open up a new can of worms. more

Dot GCC Applicant Fights for Survival

Much has been said about the advice ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee submitted to the Board of directors at the close of last April's Beijing International Meeting. The recommendations given by governments will probably be the subject of much more discussion in the weeks ahead and the run-up to ICANN's next meeting in Durban (South Africa) in July. Especially now that the comment period opened after Beijing on GAC Advice has closed, and that ICANN has published its summary of the comments received. more

Will the GNSO Review Be Pushed Back Another Year?

ICANN bylaws mandate periodic reviews of the organisation's main structures. For the body that handles gTLD policy making, the GNSO, that review was due to start in February this year. The review appears much needed. The GNSO Council is the manager of the gTLD policy process and as such, it has representatives of all GNSO groups. But according to repeated statements by many of those representatives, the Council's current bicameral structure has not lived up to expectations. more

The Rise of Cyrillic Domain Names

This week, on a cruise ship navigating Russia's Neva river, around 250 domain registrars and resellers are gathered for the RU-CENTER annual domain conference. RU-CENTER is the largest Russian registrar in a market that is dominated by three companies. RU-CENTER and competitor Reg.Ru both manage around 28% of domains registered in the country's national suffix... RU-CENTER is also a figurehead for Russia's drive to make Internet use more palatable for those who are not natural ASCII writers. more

New Registry Agreement, All Good?

In the run-up to the launch of new gTLDs, ICANN has been negotiating both of its main supplier contracts. The registrar contract (Registrar Accreditation Agreement or RAA) negotiations are now all but complete. A new contract draft has been posted for public comment and it now seems likely that in little over a month, this will become the official new 2013 RAA. more

Plural TLDs: Let’s Stop Throwing Spanners in the Works!

I don't have strong religion on plural TLDs. For that matter, I don't have strong feelings for or against closed generics either, an other new gTLD issue that has recently been discussed even though it is not mentioned in the rules new gTLD applicants had to rely on. What I do care about is predictability of process. Yet, as Beijing showed, the ICANN community has an uncanny ability to throw last-minute wrenches at its own Great Matter, as Cardinal Wolsey called Henry VIII's plan to divorce Catherine of Aragon. more

ICANN’s NomCom 2-Stage (R)evolution

ICANN's Nominating Committee (NomCom) is both a strange animal and a precious resource. Having a committee charged with first recruiting, then selecting suitable candidates to hold key positions within ICANN is something that is often little, or even mis, understood. Within the ICANN community itself. By the very nature of its recruitment role, the NomCom has to remain secretive. About who the candidates are, at any rate. But that doesn't mean the rest of the NomCom's processes must remain so. more

Mishandling the Registrar Contract Negotiations

By publishing a draft Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) for public comment before it has been agreed on by both parties, has ICANN dealt the bottom-up multi-stakeholder model a blow? ICANN Staff and the registrars have been negotiating a new version of the RAA for the past 18 months following requests by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) such as Interpol for greater consumer protection. With both ICANN and registrars working hard, by early this year agreement had been reached on 11.5 of the 12 LEA "asks". A deal looked close. more

Closed Generics Debate Rages On

The new gTLD program continues to throw up last-minute debates on what is acceptable as a TLDs and what is not. The latest such verbal joust centers around closed generics. These are generic terms being applied for by applicants whom, should they be successful, will not open the TLD up to everyone on an equal access basis. As an example, think .book being run by Amazon and only available to Amazon customers. more

Can Energetic Leadership Inspire ICANN?

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé was already 2 hours into his flight from Singapore to Paris when the pilot's voice interrupted the in-flight entertainment. A tech problem meant turning back, landing in Singapore, waiting for another plane and starting the long haul again! Half a day later, Chehadé landed in Paris. He'd already missed a lunch appointment but was still in time to make a reception organised at French ICANN board member Sébastien Bachollet's initiative. more

Why I’m No Longer So Worried About ICANN

"No, the new gTLD program isn't ready!" ... "Yes, I was wrong on the Trademark Clearinghouse!" Fadi Chehadé showed some strong leadership qualities during last week's ICANN regional registry and registrar meeting in Amsterdam. Honesty and courage... What started out as a speech soon turned into a heart to heart. As he responded to questions, Chehadé made some surprisingly honest comments. more

Trademark Clearinghouse Debate is Not About the Trademark Clearinghouse!

A comment period on the "strawman", a proposal to update the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH), is currently underway. Originally planned to end on January 11, it has been extended by ICANN to February 5. The comment portal has so far received 89 email contributions. A fair number, but the real story is how many major brands have spoken out on the proposed amendments to the TMCH model. more

The Results of the ICANN Bingo Are In!

A few early technical hiccups with the system streaming it live did not prevent ICANN's prioritization draw from running smoothly yesterday, December 17, 2012. All 1917 remaining applications (out of initial 1930 announced last June) were processed in one of the meeting rooms at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton, starting at 13:00 local time. Shortly before midnight, or more than 10 hours later, Google's Dot MBA was the last application to be pulled out of the box. more

Is WCIT Failure the Start of a Digital Cold War?

This was never part of the plan. Going into the Dubai World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) two weeks ago, there was optimism aplenty. After weeks of online and media campaigning, proponents of a free Internet had managed to scare everyone into thinking that WCIT was tantamount to digital Armageddon. This had the effect of defusing the conference before it even started, or so it seemed... more

Is ICANN Entering a Bold New Era?

When Barack Obama succeeded George W Bush and became America's 44th president, it seemed he could do no wrong. But this was arguably more a consequence of the perceived inadequacies of his predecessor than a realistic reflection on his own abilities. A fact highlighted by Obama being awarded the Nobel peace prize a mere nine months after taking office, before he'd had any real chance of having an impact on America or the world. When Fadi Chehadé was formally introduced as ICANN's next CEO, at the organisation's 44th international meeting in Prague last June, there was an undeniable Obama effect... more

Attacking the Multi-Stakeholder Model

"If at first you don't succeed, try and try again." A famous saying, that some within the ICANN world seem to think actually means: "if at first you don't get what you want, try and try again." The basic premise of the ICANN system is simple and fair: get all parties to work together, give everyone an equal voice, and act on whatever consensus emerges. ICANN insiders have coined this the "multi-stakeholder, bottom-up, policy development process". more

Dot UK, A No-Brainer!

British registry Nominet has launched a consultation on whether .UK should be opened up at the top level under a scheme called Currently, registrations are only allowed at the second level, .CO.UK being Britain's main Internet suffix. The question really isn't should this be done. The question is: why has it taken so long to get here? more

Is It About to Get Much Harder to Own a Domain Name?

Question: why has air travel become so painful? Because the threat posed by bad actors requires making everyone jump through hoops before letting them board a plane. To the point that, despite obvious requirements to ensure air safety, some are now openly questioning if the cure is not worse than the disease. Registering a domain name could be about to go the same way. more

Why Saving the NomCom Means Saving ICANN Itself

ICANN's 2012 Nominating Committee (NomCom) selections are out. After a yearlong process, the NomCom has selected new members for the ICANN Board (3 seats), the GNSO and ccNSO Councils (1 seat each) and ALAC (2 positions). For those unfamiliar with it, the NomCom is in theory independent of other ICANN bodies such as the Board and exists to help fill leadership positions on them. more

ICANN Gets Crazy… Again!

The same thing happens before every ICANN meeting. It starts raining. Not men, as the song goes, or droplets of H2O. It starts raining documents. In the run-up to one of its three-a-year international meetings, ICANN goes into hyperdrive. And this time, days before the Prague meeting (from the 24th to the 29th), the usual downpour has turned into a veritable deluge. Let's just take June 4th as an example. more

Who is Keeping TAS Down?

Today, Friday April 27, ICANN had promised an update on the problems that led to its TLD Registration System (TAS) being taken offline on April 12. As the working day ends in Europe, that update has yet to come. Even if it does, I would not expect anything more concrete than the "we are still working on the issue, thanks for your patience" message of recent days. So what's really going on here? Does anyone at ICANN seriously expect us to believe that the tech team is "still reviewing the TAS data and checking the integrity of each and every application"? more

ICANN - Time to Act!

At the start of the TAS outage, I said ICANN had a great opportunity to get its crisis management right by communicating properly. Now, nearly two weeks after the application window was supposed to close, ICANN has clearly done just that... But clearly, communication isn't the only parameter in crisis management. At some point, you also need to act. more

After ICANN’s TLD Application System Glitch, Communication Is the Key

There were long faces all over the new gTLD ecosystem yesterday -- applicants, consultants and technical operators alike -- when ICANN took their Application System (TAS) offline and announced that it would not be brought back up for 5 days. As a result, the long-anticipated close of the first new gTLD application window was pushed back from April 12 to April 20, 23:59 UTC. You could almost hear the groans of dismay spreading over social cyberspace! more

What ICANN is Doing Wrong

A couple of recent articles have caught my attention because they offer scathing criticism of ICANN. The first is a long and convoluted article by Kieren McCarthy on the .JOBS debacle. Kieren has basically written a feature that only a seasoned ICANN insider can hope to understand and that's a pity, because the points he makes appear very valid. Namely that ICANN is incapable of looking at itself in the mirror and admitting when it's wrong. more

ICANN’s Final Preparations for New gTLDs

I think it's fair to say that ICANN is in a state of near meltdown at the moment. With less than a week to go before the new gTLD program's first application window is opened, on Thursday January 12, 2012, the amount of work being done is mind-bending. The ICANN Board held a special meeting on January 5 to determine the program's state of readiness ahead of the launch. more

Will Launch of New gTLD Program Be Delayed as a Result of Recent Hearings?

Yesterday evening, the ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) held its last teleconference of the year. We had invited ICANN's new gTLD supremo Kurt Pritz to give an update on the recent US Congress hearings. Kurt was ICANN's spokesperson in both hearings, and felt that the first was more favourable to ICANN than the second. more

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New TLDsDomain NamesPolicy & RegulationInternet GovernanceDomain ManagementICANNWhoisCybercrimeRegistry ServicesAccess ProvidersDNSMultilinguismDNS SecurityUDRPCybersecurityThreat Intelligence IPv4 MarketsWebEmailPrivacyLawCyberattackCloud Computing

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Popular Posts

ICANN CEO Farewell Letter Overlooks Innovation

Geo and Brand TLDs Only for a 2019 Second Round of New gTLDs?

Is the Risk Real With the New gTLD Program? (An Interview with Verisign)

The Rise of Cyrillic Domain Names

Rage Against the ICANN Machine