Frustration, anger greets session on new top level domain names.
In the opening session on new gTLDs at ICANN’s meeting in Seoul, frustrations boiled over after it became apparent the timeline for introduction of new top level domain names has slipped.
Kurt Pritz, Senior Vice President at ICANN, led the session. The transcript tells an ugly tale. Pritz didn’t talk about specific dates, but basically said things would be slowed down to get it right. One example:
The RSSAC are considering the reports that have been delivered and will advise the board on next steps there. Economic analyses we’re engaged with, in discussions with economists that we expect to retain. We expect a first delivery of materials in — as early as December, and then the follow-on report in the first quarter or first half of next year.
When the floor was opened up for questions, Minds+Machines’ Antony Van Couvering was the first to the mic:
>>ANTONY VAN COUVERING: Thank you, Kurt. And thank you for the 50 explanatory memos, the 400 days of public comments, the 580 articles and so on.
So I have done the math. I think everyone here can do it, too. Andwhat that math says to me is that there is no application period before the end of the summer, and probably after that.
>>KURT PRITZ: Summer in which hemisphere?
>>ANTONY VAN COUVERING: Yes, exactly. Let us say, then, July, August, September, October in any hemisphere….
Frustration became evident as person after person came to the mic to discuss the costs they are experiencing with delays. Here are a few examples:
Paul Stahura, eNom: We need new gTLDs or the DNS risks losing its relevance and ICANN simply devolving into a perpetual debating society. We need new gTLDs to bring lower prices, better names, more diverse services, and innovative features to consumers. We need them now, or those of us who want to bring these benefits to consumers will wither on the vine, and as we all know, some of you in this room wish this to happen.
Elaine Pruis, Minds+Machines: Yesterday, I heard of a draft applicant guidebook 4, maybe a 5, maybe a 6. And I couldn’t help but think of Buzz Lightyear. And I want a tee shirt that says, “To infinity and beyond.” Not really. I want a tee shirt that says, “Final applicant guidebook.”
John Toland, TLD Assets: My clients are concerned that the timetable hasn’t slipped, but has been abandoned. So I would be seeking to hear from yourself — this is a question — a clear reaffirmation that the new gTLDs are going to be introduced. So could you answer that with a “yes”? (After back and forth with Pritz, Toland took it as a ‘yes’)
Bret Fausett, Attorney: You know, there are people who are burning money trying to build businesses on this ICANN platform, and it’s very difficult when you don’t know what the target is. And, you know, if it’s 2011, if it’s 2012, people are going to be really disappointed to hear that, but they’d rather hear that.
And, you know, don’t be worried about making people disappointed, because predictability and planning are much more important than making people happy.
Bhavin Turakhia, Directi: Every year of delay means people change. People in the governments changing, employees and staff and private equity payers are changing, staff has to be reeducated. Anywhere between 70 to 100 potential applicants exist today, and people who I talk to speak of a couple hundred applications. You’re looking at a staff of three to six dedicated people in each of these companies. That represents anywhere between 45 to $50 million per annum of staff cost. You add all of this up, add interest cost and you’re looking at about $100 million outside of the 92 that your cost consideration sheet talks about, that is being spent for every year of delay in this process.
Which means the ecosystem is going to have to generate an additional $100 million every year that this process is delayed. So, you know, I urge you, if you take a look at this room, you know, this is probably — I’ve been to several ICANN meetings — this is probably, you know, the most packed I have seen any session in an ICANN meeting, close to 400, 500 people here at a modest, $300 an hour. This room has spent $250,000 in this session to hear you say that the process is getting delayed.