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ICANN names new CEO as gTLD director resigns

ICANN names new CEO

The Internet Corporation for Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit that oversees the Internet domain address system, named Fadi Chehade its new chief executive today following the expected resignation of its current CEO, Rod Beckstrom, a former U.S. cybersecurity chief whose three-year contract with the organization ends on July 1.

Chehade, a 50-year-old Egyptian and American businessman with experience “building consensus” at companies like IBM, according to the Associated Press, but without a solid background in ICANN’s primary operations, will begin his tenure on October 1.

ICANN Chief Operations Office Akram Atallah will serve as acting CEO until Chehade assumes his position this fall.

In addition to its new CEO, ICANN also announced that the leader of its generic top-level domain (gTLD) program, Michael Salazar, has resigned. Kurt Pritz will take over as interim gTLD Program Director. ICANN has not yet announced a permanent replacement to Salazar.

The ICANN leadership shakeup comes amidst the largest domain name expansion in the history of the Internet. Soon, familiar top-level domains, like addresses ending in .com, .net, .co, or .org, will be joined by hundreds of new suffixes, including endings like ..google, .news, .app, .love, .wtf and .blog.

Currently, there are 208 country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), but only 22 gTLDs. But that number is about to explode into the hundreds. ICANN has received more than 1,900 applications for a total of 1,409 new domain suffixes — a process that has been riddled with controversy. Many organizations and companies feared that the gTDL expansion would lead to an endless amount of domain name squatting, with rivals or other entities snagging domains linked to specific brands, like .coke or .apple. (ICANN has reassured that its application approval process will stop such actions.) And earlier this month, a software glitch exposed sensitive details about the new gTDL applicants.

Needless to say, Chehade has his work cut out for him.

To view the full list of new gTLDs, click here.