You're in charge. No, you are!
Somewhat unusually for the status-driven ICANN world, one of the most influential positions in the organisation — chair of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) — appears to be in limbo.
Canadian representative Heather Dryden made it clear a few weeks prior to the meeting that she intended to step down from the role at the end of the LA meeting (also ICANN's annual general meeting), even though officially the role is due to end at the next meeting in Marrakech in February. Dryden also made her decision clear to the two people going for the GAC chair position that she was off.
Unfortunately, the eventual winner of an election for the seat, Swiss civil servant Thomas Schneider, noted in his acceptance speech that it would take some time for him to reduce his current workload and suggested that Dryden stay on until the next ICANN meeting. Dryden was having none of it, leading to busy discussions about who would actually be in charge of representing the world's governments for the next four months.
To add to the confusion, there are now two sets of vice-chairs to the GAC. And in the election, the GAC selected an additional two vice-chairs because of the current workload. So currently, the world's governments have somewhere between zero and two chairs, and somewhere between zero and six vice-chairs.
Seemingly the only person not representing the GAC is the loser in the chair election, Lebanese representative Imad Hoballah.
ICANN announced just prior to the meeting that there was to be a new head of compliance, Allen Grogan.
Grogan had been personally hired by CEO Fadi Chehade as chief contracting counsel in May 2013 and is just one of a wave of employees brought on by Chehade since he started as CEO who have worked with him.
Chehade was himself brought into ICANN by his former co-worker and COO Akram Atallah.
Grogan will take over from Maguy Serad, who was hired by Atallah as senior compliance director and then promoted to veep on Chehade's first day as CEO.
The choice of Serad wasn't popular with compliance staff, who complained she had little experience in compliance work.
Serad is the wife of a former co-worker of both Chehade and Atallah, Roger Serad.
There's an app for that
With all the applicants for new gTLDs gathered in one place, it presented some with an opportunity to share war stories.
And it seems that many had had the same experience: concerted and unusual efforts to disrupt their applications with spurious complaints, astroturfing and procedural barriers designed to wear them down.
Having realised they were at the end of the same tricks, a number of applicants decided to go straight to ICANN with their complaints. From what we hear, ICANN is extremely keen to sort the problem out. And, at least according to our sources, its plan for doing so is to ignore them, turn down reconsideration requests, refuse to consider relevant documentation, and stick their fingers in their ears while singing "lalalalalala". ®