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ICANN replaces CEO, head of massive domain-name change

The organization in charge of doling out Internet domain names and addresses picks Fadi Chehade as its new CEO -- and replaces the head of a mammoth domain-name expansion.

ICANN, the organization in charge of basic Internet name and addressing technology, today announced a new chief executive, Fadi Chehade.

The move was expected since last August when outgoing CEO Rod Beckstrom announced his eventual departure (PDF) from the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

But ICANN also announced that the leader of a controversial change, the expansion of generic top-level domains (GTLD) to include everything from .google to .sucks, also is stepping down. Hundreds have applied to operate the new GTLDs, and ICANN now is evaluating the applications.

Chehade, a 50-year-old citizen of Lebanon, Egypt, and the United States, most recently was CEO of Vocado, which provides online tools to administer educational institutions. He's also worked at IBM and CoreObjects, and he launched three companies, Viacore, RosettaNet, and Nett Information Products.

"I have spent most of my professional career building consensus among various stakeholders from around the world," Chehade said in a statement (PDF) and added that he's " 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."

Accommodating all the people and organizations with a stake in the Internet's future is indeed difficult. Many of them objected to the GTLD expansion, which means new, expensive headaches for companies with brand names and trademarks to protect. Plenty of others jumped at the chance to apply for new domains, though.

For the GTLD program, ICANN announced that Kurt Pritz has become interim leader, replacing Michael Salazar, who resigned. "He is authorized to bring the full resources available to ICANN to bear on the application evaluation process to improve customer support, applicant communications, security, and reporting," ICANN said in a announcement.

Chehade will actually start sometime before October 1. After Beckstrom's contract ends July 1, Chief Operating Officer Akram Atallah will handle CEO duties.

ICANN, whose mission is "to ensure a stable, secure and unified global Internet," handles chores such as overseeing the Domain Name System, which translates human-readable addresses such as into the numeric Internet Protocol (IP) addresses -- in that example -- actually used to route data across the Internet.