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Selecting ICANN’s Next CEO: A Letter to the Chair of the Board

Since ICANN’s CEO announced (on Twitter) that he would be leaving in July 2012, the Internet has been abuzz with details on what happened and why. Rod Beckstrom’s tenure so far has earned praise and criticism, much of the latter dwelling on his management style, and on the rate of turnover in ICANN’s staff since his appointment. As for the praise, it was implicit in the official announcement put out by ICANN on 16 September, with a link to a list of the outgoing CEO’s achievements. Many in our community have a vivid recollection of the criticism leveled at Beckstrom, during a plenary session in an ICANN international meeting, by Maria Farrell, a former staff member.

But beyond these numerous and contrasting appraisals of Beckstrom’s time at the helm, there is now a heightened awareness of what will be at stake by the time the Board gets completely involved in the search for the next CEO. The multi-stakeholder model, though not unique to ICANN, is implemented in this corporation in a distinctive fashion, and that essential element of the corporation’s DNA is being challenged by some. As for the process, many consider that the one followed in the search for Paul Twomey’s successor was flawed (unclear rules, shifting target, lack of transparency…).

This latter question of process was recently addressed by a group of friends of ICANN, who wrote to the Chair of ICANN’s Board on 17 September 2011. The full text of this letter may be viewed here: http://serenidee.over-blog.com/article-icann-s-next-ceo-an-open-letter-84566210.html

By Jean-Jacques Subrenat, Ambassador (ret.)

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