In an unexpected move, ICANN chief strategy officer and lead of the new gTLD program, Kurt Pritz, announced his resignation on Thursday.
In a letter posted to the ICANN website from CEO Fadi Chehade said Pritz resigned due to an unspecified, and recently identified, conflict of interest.
“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,” Chehade said. “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.”
The move comes a month after Pritz spoke at the ICANN 45 meeting in Toronto, where he provided details on the new gTLDs, and the next steps for applicants. As the face of the new gTLD program, the resignation has made many feel uneasy, particularly as ICANN promised to improve its communication and structure.
“It’s a new season at ICANN,” Chehade said to a packed room at the ICANN meeting. “It’s a new season that continues this great work and builds on it.”
According to DomainIncite, both Pritz and ICANN declined to comment on the resignation, saying its a “personnel matter.”
Many in the ICANN community believe the lack of transparency when so much is at stake is unacceptable, and the failure to detail what really went on is inappropriate, particularly in a multi-stakeholder model.
“Now it the perfect time to for ICANN to do the right thing and tell those applicants who just gave ICANN over $350 million dollars to apply for a new gTLD, many of whom have spent years of their life on the program what exactly the conflict of is, when it was detected, why it wasn’t detected earlier,” Michael Berkens writes on TheDomains.com. “The applicants and the members of the ICANN community deserve no less.”
For now, with so few details, the ICANN community can only speculate what happened, but will likely continue to put pressure on ICANN to disclose the whole story.
Talk back: Do you think that this resignation is worrisome for gTLD applicants? Let us know in a comment.