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ICANN may have to operate without a chief during gTLD rollout

New CEO may not take helm for months after Beckstrom leaves

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Domain name policy manager ICANN is set to be left with a vacant CEO's office for two or three months, according to sources close to the organisation.

ICANN, which is currently overseeing the largest expansion of internet addressing in history, said yesterday that it plans to name its new president and CEO at a press conference on Friday.

But sources hinted that the new guy – whose identity is still a closely guarded secret – is not expected to take over until the autumn, leaving ICANN with a leadership vacuum just as its new gTLD programme begins its critical objection and evaluation phase.

The change of leadership at this time has been known for almost a year.

Current CEO Rod Beckstrom announced in August last year that he would leave the organisation at the end of June 2012, when his initial three-year contract expires.

It is generally understood in the ICANN community that its board of directors declined to renew his contract, unhappy with Beckstrom's performance over his first two years.

With Beckstrom still due to depart next week during ICANN's public meeting in Prague, it is expected that chief operating officer Akram Atallah will be asked to take the helm during the interregnum.

Atallah joined ICANN in September 2010 and has recently been one of the new gTLD programme's most prominent public faces, putting his name to the regular updates ICANN provided when its TLD Application System suffered from an embarrassing six-week outage. ®

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