.ORGanized Takeover – a timeline of the ISOC, PIR & Ethos Capital Deal

Posted on Nov 25, 2019 by Ayden Férdeline
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.org sold

There have been so many different emails and articles floating around about the ISOC sale of PIR to a new, two-person investment firm with only one investment, it’s hard to piece together exactly what has happened and when. I have put together a timeline based upon what I have read, and I’m sharing it here in case you find it helpful. I think it raises more questions than answers, though…

 

 2003

Andrew Sullivan is working at Affilias when it was then the vendor that supported the award of .ORG to ISOC

 

2012

Robert Beckstrom resigns as ICANN CEO, and ICANN COO Akram Atallah takes over as interim CEO before his childhood friend Fadi Chehadé joins as CEO.

Under Chehadé, Atallah becomes president of ICANN’s Global Domains Division.

 

2016

Chehadé leaves ICANN before his contract expired in order to start his own consulting firm and later joins Abry Partners. Abry has 3 partners, one of whom is Erik Brooks.

 

May 2018

ISOC suddenly appoints three new trustees to PIR.

Brian Cute, PIR’s CEO of 7 years, resigns suddenly, with no explanation. One of the new trustees takes over as interim CEO.

 

June 2018

Andrew Sullivan is appointed CEO of ISOC, starting in September.

 

September 2018

Chehadé helped Abry close their acquisition of a majority stake in Donuts. Brooks took a board seat at Donuts.

 

October 2018

Donuts co-founder and chief counsel Jon Nevett steps down. Brooks replaced the Donuts CEO with Akram Atallah.

 

December 2018

Nevett becomes the new CEO of PIR, responsible for .ORG

 

March 2019

ICANN proposes removing price caps from .ORG registrations. It is unclear whether PIR requested this, whether ICANN offered it unsolicited, or if PIR worked behind the scenes to make this happen under the guise of contract harmonization.

ICANN receives 3,300 comments uniformly opposed to the change and 6 in favor of removing price caps, and sides with the 0.2% minority.

 

May 2019

PIR responded to the comments with an open letter that said, “We are a mission-based non-profit, and would never betray the trust that you have put into .ORG and us.”

 On 7 May, Chehadé registered the domain for EthosCapital.com.

On 13 May, ICANN decided to lift the price caps anyway.

On 14 May, Ethos Capital was incorporated as a new investment firm founded by Brooks. Ethos Capital has two staff: Brooks and Nora Abusitta-Ouri, a former ICANN SVP who later worked for Chehadé and was also a classmate of Chehadé.

 

November 2019

Out of the blue, ISOC announced that Nevett and Sullivan had approved the acquisition of PIR by Ethos Capital for an unspecified amount.

The only support for the deal that I have tracked has come from Vint Cerf, who for some reason appears to have access to non-public information about the deal (and was cited in ISOC’s press release as supporting the sale).

 

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