Uh-oh: Pritz out at ICANN over conflict of interest

The face of ICANN’s new TLD program abruptly resigns.

Kurt Pritz was the face of ICANN’s new top level domain program. Literally.

It was Pritz who defended ICANN on Capitol Hill. It was Pritz who spoke to the press and at conferences.

Now he’s gone.

In a shocking announcement this morning, new ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé announced that he had accepted Pritz’ resignation. Here’s the full announcement:

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.


The wording of the letter raises some questions.

If it was a recently identified conflict of interest, which he immediately communicated to ICANN, then it seems that it was a conflict he wasn’t aware of until just now. That would indicate it hasn’t affected any of his decision making.

If ICANN offered him a different role in the company, then it would appear that he hadn’t done anything willfully wrong.

Yet if both of these are the case, why wouldn’t ICANN simply disclose the exact issue?

One thing that’s clear from the notice is that it is related to the new TLD program.

Perhaps it’s something that includes a personal element. Otherwise, I’m not sure why ICANN would keep it close to the chest.


  1. Adam says

    When pseudo-government agencies are responsible for the “management” of the domain space with billions at stake between the companies involved and millions more brought in to the coffers of said agency, conflict of interests are inevitable. I’m surprised this is a first.

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