The campaign accuses Nominet’s board that it is pouring money into unnecessary diversifications and acquisitions (and their own pockets), instead of reducing .uk wholesale prices.
The campaign has already secured the 5% of voting rights (between Nominet members) required to call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM). So far, after a couple of days, 110 Nominet members have signed the campaign that represent 736,593 voting rights (10.4% at the time of writing).
At that EGM the campaign plans to pass 2 Ordinary Resolutions requiring a simple majority (more than 50%) of the votes cast to remove the current Chair, Remuneration Chair and Executive Directors and replace them with new directors. It is interesting to see what will happen at the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) as so far none of the 10 members with the most voting rights have supported the campaign. Members include GoDaddy, 1&1 Ionos, TUCOWS (OpenSRS, Enom), Register.com (Web.com, NetworkSolutions), Namecheap, Key-Systems and other well known domain name registrars.
This campaign is exactly what has to happen with ICANN when there are enough people to really want to make a change to the gTLDs. These people are treating non-profits like their own business and increasing domain name prices for their own gain and the gain of their friends’ companies.
Nominet has issued a statement about the EGM.
“The aim? To restore Nominet’s original public benefit mandate, which under previous management donated as much as £7 million a year to good causes.
Sadly, under the recent board led day-to-day by Russell Haworth, appointed 5 years ago, those donations have dropped consistently to below £2 million a year. During the same period Director pay has steadily grown and now exceeds £2M, thereby overtaking what’s being channeled towards public benefit.”
“In the last five years public benefit donations are down 65%, profit is down nearly 40%, yet the top 3 Directors pay is up 70%. Furthermore, wholesale prices have increased over 50%, generating a large cash surplus when prices should have been coming down.
That can’t be right.
To correct this injustice, we’ve drawn up a clear rescue plan that will restore Nominet’s original public benefit purpose and provide it with responsive leadership to ensure an independent future as a financially strong organisation.”
“Nominet was never intended to be a commercial entity. Yet the Directors have treated it like any normal for-profit business, conflating its deliberately narrow purpose to support .uk domains with an inherent requirement to survive at any cost. As a result they’ve poured money into unnecessary diversifications and acquisitions (and their own pockets), instead of reducing prices to minimise profit and sending any surplus towards public benefit donations.”
What is happening?
“We have started a campaign, PublicBenefit.UK, calling for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM).
The EGM is being called to pass the following 2 Ordinary Resolutions (requiring 50%):
- To remove the current Chair, Remuneration Chair and Executive Directors
- To replace them with 2 new Directors charged with restoring Nominet to its original character.
A growing number of leading members, acting together under the PublicBenefit.UK banner, as well as some of the original Nominet founders, have come out in support of the action and the 5% voting rights required to call the EGM have already been secured.
If successful this EGM will send a very strong message about what Nominet’s true purpose is (run the .uk namespace), and who it should benefit (members and the wider public).”
Restoring Nominet’s leadership
“The Board is currently made up of the Chairman, 3 Executive Directors, 3 Appointed Non-Executive Directors, and 4 Non-Executive Directors elected by the members. The first resolution calls for 5 Directors to be removed, which will still leave the majority of the board and provide stability.
The second resolution, which will happen immediately after the first, appoints two very experienced interim Directors to begin the process of restoration. The business will continue to operate effectively throughout.
Sir Michael Lyons and Axel Pawlik have offered to stand as interim Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively. If elected, both individuals have agreed to 12-month, no-bonus contracts with a member vote to re-elect at the AGM in September 2021.
Sir Michael Lyons (Chair)
Former Chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael was commissioned by Nominet in 2015 to carry out an independent review of the organisations membership and corporate structure. The report provided a number of recommendations on improving governance and engaging with the membership to restore broken trust. Most were ignored.
For 20 years Axel was the Managing Director of the RIPE NCC, the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) responsible for overseeing all IP resource management in Europe and the Middle East. A membership organisation, it grew from 1,600 to over 20,000 members during his tenure, and throughout Axel engaged with the membership to shape the organisation. Read more”