ICANN CEO Burns Down The House As He Prepares To Leave

Rod Beckstrom imageMaybe he is trying to say ICANN is not good enough for him, but as he is about to “leave” ICANN after three turbulent years as CEO and President, Rod Beckstrom delivered a few grenades regarding its performance at the ICANN meeting currently underway in Costa Rica.

Beckstrom was strident in his criticism of conflict of interest rules for directors, noting that “ICANN must place commercial and financial interests in their appropriate context.” He went on to ask “how can it do this if all top leadership is from the very domain name industry it is supposed to coordinate independently?”

But Beckstrom’s stinging criticism was met with a withering criticism by former ICANN staffer Maria Farrell who wrote, “In the long tradition of tenants trashing the gaffe as they’re finally evicted, ICANN’s outgoing CEO seems determined to burn down the house he’s been renting for the past three years.”

“In an effort to salvage his tattered reputation,” Farrell continues, “Beckstrom seems to be following his standard m.o. of shifting attention to the suddenly glaring failings of the organization that’s decided to terminate his employment.”

Beckstrom has form here when he left the National Cyber Security Center at the Department of Homeland Security, he complained “of inadequate funding and cites efforts by the National Security Agency to ‘subjugate’ the NCSC to its control,” according to an ars technica report at the time.

Noting there is a “germ of truth” to his “searing criticisms,” Farrell says he’s been happy to run [ICANN] for the past three years … [where] conflicts are rife, with several industry-sourced Board Directors needing to recuse themselves from discussions or votes on new generic top-level domains. And ICANN’s standing is nowhere near to recovering from the dramatic act of pantouflage of our last Chairman, who went from Chairing the Board meeting that approved new gTLDs to running a new gTLD company within a few weeks.”

Farrell then notes “things are more complicated than they first appear” referring to directors recusing themselves when, in many other organisations, this would not be required.

Farrell concludes that “unfortunately, we can expect more of these ‘bombs’ to be dropped during Beckstrom’s final months, as the CEO and Board Director attempts to paint himself as a courageous contrarian speaking truth to power. But the truth is Beckstrom’s speech was not only inaccurate and mean-spirited, but a transparent attempt to wring personal, tactical advantage at the strategic expense of the organization he still purports to lead. It is a shame that at this point in Beckstrom’s tenure, we have come to expect no better.”

Maria Farrell’s article on the Crooked Timber blog is available in full at crookedtimber.org/2012/03/13/icanns-departing-ceo-burning-down-the-house/