Atallah moves from senior ICANN role to contracted party Donuts.
Atallah was President of ICANN’s Global Domains Division where he oversaw much of the new top level domain name program. It was Atallah who urged his former colleague Fadi Chehade to join ICANN as CEO. Chehade later left ICANN and joined Abry Partners, which acquired Donuts last month. Now Chehade had a chance to hire Atallah.
This will be the third CEO of Donuts in the past two years. Founder Paul Stahura stepped down at the beginning of 2017 and was replaced by Bruce Jaffe. Jaffe has a deal-making background. He helped Donuts acquire Rightside and a few other small businesses and facilitated the sale to Abry Partners.
It strikes me that Stahura, Jaffe and Atallah all have very different backgrounds and personalities. This latest change might be a bit jarring for Donuts staff. It will be interesting to see what changes the company makes under private equity ownership with Atallah at the helm.
There might also be a bit of controversy with this hiring given Atallah’s former role overseeing new TLDs at ICANN. There was a lot of pushback when MMX (then Top Level Domain Holdings) hired Peter Dengate-Thrush in 2011. Dengate-Thrush was the former Chairman of ICANN’s board. That hiring was particularly striking because Dengate-Thrush has just pushed through approval of the new TLD program and the application process was just beginning. I’m not sure it will be as big of an issue with Atallah given where the program is in 2018.
Atallah will join Donuts on November 12. That’s after this months ICANN meeting in Barcelona.