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ICANN anoints new internet kingpin

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The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has confirmed that it will have new CEO to replace outgoing boss Rod Beckstrom, but not until October.

The new recruit is Lebanese-born businessman Fadi Chehadé, who has spent time in senior management at IBM and was until recently the CEO of cloud vendor Vocado. Beckstrom is being ushered firmly out of the door by August, so ICANN's Akram Atallah will run things in the interim.

"Fadi has an amazing track record of success and the obvious leadership qualities to help carry ICANN into the next stage of its evolution," said ICANN's chairman Dr. Stephen Crocker. "His international background and multi-linguistic skills will help to make ICANN an ever more globally oriented organization. It's hard to imagine how we could have found anyone better suited for the top position."

Certainly he's more suited than Beckstrom. The flamboyant former CEO – while he was a journalist's dream for quotability – raised eyebrows at ICANN after a stream of resignations and some odd appointees, including the secret appointment of a self-help guru as vice president.

Beckstrom announced his decision to leave ICANN last August, with strong suggestions being that he was encouraged to do so by the board, which was unlikely to renew his contract. In March he attacked the ethics of ICANN's board after seven of the 16 members declared a conflict of interest in the discussion over the new gTLD program to expand internet addresses.

That program, which could see more than 2,000 new top-level domains added to the internet's roster (leading to an extra $350m in revenues for ICANN), will now be rolled out under the interim CEO Akram Atallah until Chehadé can join, as expected.

"Akram will not simply be a place-holder," said Crocker. "He will, in every sense of the phrase, be the Chief Executive Officer until Fadi joins us."

In the appointment announcement, Chehadé was extolled as a a consensus-builder and diplomat – which is just what the organization needs right now. ICANN faces a serious challenge over internet regulations from proposals at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai this December.

"I have spent most of my professional career building consensus among various stakeholders from around the world," said Chehadé, who speaks English, French, Italian, and Arabic. "I am naturally humbled to now be able to lead an organization that defines itself by an international multi-stakeholder model and one that is the very core of the security and stability of the Internet." ®

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