auDA: play the ball not the man

Last week Jim Stewart, Paul Szyndler, and myself secured more than double the required votes for a Special General Meeting (SGM) of .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA). auDA is the self-regulatory body for the .au domain name space.

At the proposed SGM, auDA Members will vote on the following resolutions:

  1. Vote of no confidence in Cameron Boardman (CEO)
  2. Removal of Chris Leptos as a Director
  3. Removal of Sandra Hook as a Director
  4. Removal of Suzanne Ewart as a Director

The key issues as to why auDA Members have supported the calling of an SGM are:

  • Direct Registration of .au domain names. Some people are for direct .au domain name registration, and some are against. A business case has been promised by auDA, but not delivered. Then there are the multitudes of registrants that wouldn’t even know it is on the horizon, because auDA hasn’t directly told them of the possibility; and how and why it would work if it was implemented.
  • Communication and Transparency. Since the July 2017 SGM, no lessons have been learnt – auDA continues to exhibit poor communication. There is a lack of transparency about what is actually happening. There is a “whispering campaign” in place to discredit some past staff and management.
  • Good Governance. Why has the auDA board allowed Demand Class members to be under-represented since November 2017? That’s contrary to the auDA Constitution.

Many more issues have been raised.

auDA’s response

Initially auDA CEO, Cameron Boardman, contacted an auDA Member who had signed the petition. The late night call left the Member feeling threatened and concerned after being questioned as to why they had signed the petition for the SGM.

Then auDA Chair, Chris Leptos AM, wrote to Members to report on his “achievements”. The set of dot points did nothing to allay the concerns raised by Members for the SGM. Leptos went on to point the big innuendo stick at all 48 past .au Domain Administration Ltd. directors in a heinous act.

Someone leaked the auDA confidential, PPB advisory report to the media. The unfair targeting of Paul Szyndler is abhorrent. This behaviour is something that you’d expect from a political party, not those associated with regulating the .au domain name space.

auDA: play the ball not the man

For all of the leadership at auDA, play the ball and not the man. The SGM outlines serious issues which must be addressed. Playing the blame game is not constructive.

Further reading

White anting “auDA” control

White ants can wreak significant damage on your home without you even realising that they are at work. They quietly go about their work, undermining your foundations, attacking your walls, leaving a trail of destruction in their path, until only the shell of the original structure remains.

White anting out of control

Human white anting is a form of sabotage which is so subtle, it can be difficult to identify or expose. It is a covert form of bullying that aims to undermine or discredit the achievements and influence of another.

White anting might include spreading rumours and false information.

I have personally been the subject of a smear campaign from senior figures in the Australian domain name industry.

Confidential auDA board information has been leaked to third parties

The inferences made by a third party are grossly inaccurate, defamatory, and reveal privileged information known only by auDA.

Most importantly I have done nothing wrong, and at no stage has auDA or any other party made an official enquiry or complaint to me.

Therefore,

auDA Chair Chris Leptos AM, auDA Deputy Chair Erhan Karabardak, and auDA CEO Cameron Boardman:

Put up or shut up.

 

Josh Rowe

auDA Non Executive Director 2001-2015

auDA Member

 

Direct .AU registrations – where’s the business case Cameron Boardman?

Why do I care about this issue?

I was a non executive director of auDA from 2001-2015.

The .au domain name space is well established, and understood by organisations and Internet users.

There is significant value in the existing .au brand hierarchy. NetRegistry describes “com.au” as:

The most recognisable Australian domain name

I’m quite open minded about being able to be convinced there is a need for direct .au domain registrations, but the issue is, no quantitative business case has been put forward.

Is this a cash grab?

I am concerned that the primary focus of introducing direct .au domain registrations is to:

  • increase revenue for auDA (they receive a domain name fee for every .au domain name sold),
  • increase revenue for domain name retailers, and
  • increase revenue for domain legal service providers.

However, the expense appears to be borne by organisations.

There’s been no clear business case made for the expansion of the .au domain name space, and it’s not like ‘.com.au’ names are running out.

Where is the quantitative business case?

At the 2016 auDA AGM, auDA CEO Cameron Boardman promised to commission a business case to determine the financial viability of opening up .au for direct registrations.

Listen to Ned O’Meara’s question, and Cameron Boardman’s response at the 2016 auDA AGM which is available here (2nd clip).

The Deloitte Access Economics Report (which is not a business case) commissioned by auDA recommended that:

A more quantitative analysis of the costs and benefits should also be
undertaken. Any modelling of costs and benefits should give proper
consider to their distribution. If the benefit of the proposal is concentrated
to a handful of individuals or businesses, or the cost is disproportionally
borne a small subset of the industry, the proposal may be inappropriate
even if the total benefits exceed the total cost because of equity
considerations.

Cameron Boardman, CEO of auDA:

When will auDA members, Internet users, and organisations be able to read this critical missing quantitative business case?

More reading on direct .AU registrations

auDA Board Members – Chair: Chris Leptos AM, Deputy Chair: Erhan Karabardak
14 March 2018. Demand Class Director Vacant.
In other words, domain sellers “Supply” out vote domain buyers “Demand” on the board.

auDA 2017 Policy Review Panel
27 September 2017 – current. NO Peak business body representative!!!

Stop .AU it’s a cash grab that will hurt business
Change.org petition. 12 March 2018

Reddit/r/australia discuss The Business ABC story
12 March 2018

New internet domain names for Australia have been slammed as a tax on business
The Business, ABC News. Story by Dan Ziffer. 12 March 2018

Direct AU Registrations
Brand Builders. Jim Stewart & Josh Rowe. 6 March 2018

Brands voice objections to top level .au domain introduction
Mumbrella. Story by Paul Wallbank. 5 March 2018

$300m .AU domain name tax on businesses
Threaded discussion on LinkedIn. 1 March 2018

Ed Husic demands government sorts out concerns over “.au” domain introduction “quick smart”
Smart Company. Story by Emma Koehn. 1 March 2018

Australian Government House of Representatives Hansard
Speaker Ed Husic MP. 26 February 2018

“A load of bollocks”: SMEs demand answers from auDA over introduction of new “.au” domain names
Smart Company. Story by Emma Koehn. 21 February 2018

Is .com.au Dead?
PowerRetail. Story Natasha Sholl. 21 February 2018

Small businesses face expensive fights for “.au” web addresses as experts sound warning over new domain changes
Smart Company. Story by Emma Koehn. 20 February 2018

Millions of Australian domain name owners ‘ripped off’
Sydney Morning Herald. Story by Cara Waters. 8 August 2017

2015 Names Policy Panel
February 2015 – December 2015

REA Group Response to 2015 auDA Names Policy Panel
30 September 2015

CarSales Ltd Response to 2015 auDA Names Policy Panel
September 2015

John Swinson Response to 2015 Names Policy Panel
30 May 2015

Australia registers more .au than .com domains
auDA 2007 Names Policy Panel Submission by Josh Rowe. 15 June 2007

 

email no reply

noreply@ is offensive

What is the point of sending your customer (or potential customer) an email if you don’t want a reply?

Our main business email address is hello@(domain-name).

Email is one of the most powerful ways to communicate directly with your customers.

Don’t forget the simple stuff. Be human. Talk to your customers.

Old customers will stay, and you’ll attract new ones.

How to save the planet, meet cool people & get free parking

Visit: MonetiseRide.com

auDA AGM: Why I am Voting NO

14 Nov update:

14 Nov update: auDA AGM proxies are due in 10 days and the AGM is in 14 days.  Therefore, I have formally requested that this item be removed from the 2016 auDA AGM agenda.

The notice of auDA’s 2016 AGM was emailed to auDA members on Wednesday 2 November 2016; 26 days in advance of the AGM.

Most of the items on the agenda for the AGM are fairly standard.

However, agenda item 6 is a surprise which will leave auDA members with more questions than answers.

6. Special resolution- Clause 18.2(d) Constitution of the Board to increase the number of Independent Directors.

… the notice goes on to explain:

Agenda Item 6- Special resolution to adjust Clause 18.2(d) of the Constitution
As recommended by the Cameron Ralph report on the governance of auDA which was adopted by the Board of auDA on 10 October 2016, it is proposed to amend clause 18.2(d) of the Constitution to increase the number of Independent Directors permissible on the Board from three to four. This will allow for an expanded mix of skills and diversity on the Board, and improve adherence to good governance principles. The amended clause is below and a marked-up version of the proposed amendment to the Constitution is available here.

18.2 Constitution of the Board

The Board shall comprise:

a. four (4) persons elected by the Supply Class Members;

b. four (4) persons elected by the Demand Class Members;

c. the CEO of auDA as a non-voting member of the board; and

d. not more than three four (3) (4) Independent Directors appointed by the elected Directors, for terms not exceeding two (2) years each.

auDA has not published the:

Which skills and experience are required to supplement the current elected and independent auDA board members?

Does auDA have any specific prospective independent directors in mind?

Is the current auDA Chairman (Mr Stuart Benjamin) one of the prospective independent director candidates?

Mr Benjamin’s term is concluding as an elected demand class director at this AGM.  Mr Benjamin has not re-nominated for election.

If this resolution is a back door way to parachute Mr Benjamin back onto the auDA board, then that is an abuse of process.

The auDA constitution is explicit on the definition of an Independent Director:

“Independent Director” means a director appointed by the elected Directors, who is a person who:
a. holds no posts in, or is otherwise associated with, auDA, the Registry Operator or any Registrar; and
b. does not have any relationship with auDA or any other person that could, in the opinion of the elected Directors, materially interfere with:
i. the exercise of objective, unfettered and independent judgement by the person; or
ii. the person’s ability to act in the best interests of auDA;
(Inserted by Special Resolution, 14 August 2006)

Therefore, given auDA’s inadequate provision of information to support this significant change I will vote against this constitutional change.