Domainz CEO walks

Controversial Domainz chief executive Patrick O'Brien is to leave the company at the end of this month.

Controversial Domainz chief executive Patrick O'Brien is to leave the company at the end of this month.

In a statement released this morning, O'Brien says "the time is right to move on" now that "commercialisation of the registry has certainly been successfully achieved and the company is now entering a new era with a new focus."

O'Brien, a former Telecom employee, was appointed in 1996 by the then-fledgling Internet Society of New Zealand to set up and run a commercial registry business, after the University of Waikato declared that it no longer wanted to be registering names.

O'Brien oversaw the change to a paid model for names and during his tenure the number of names registered went from 5000 to 75,000.

Acting Domainz board chairman Robert Gray says that O'Brien has "built a solid business foundation for us to move forward."

But O'Brien has been increasingly embattled, especially since his friend and supporter Jim Higgins stepped down as Isocnz council chairman last year. Domainz' relations with other industry players have been strained, especially over the new $700,000 registry system introduced this year and the Domainz "accredited registrar" contracts, which many ISPs have refused to sign.

2Day.com managing director Peter Mott, who has frequently been at odds with O'Brien, has been quick to applaud his departure.

"As a monopoly supplier to a young and innovative industry, Domainz has regretfully brought complexity, confusion, and frustration to a market that has been screaming for simplicity," says Mott

"We look forward to the Board announcing the appointment of a CEO with an understanding of Internet technologies and a commitment to working with Industry."

It appears O'Brien's departure may have been hastened after Mott produced email to back up his claim that Domainz staff had been actively discouraging customers from using his company and telling them that 2Day had requested not to be listed on the Domainz site as a name service provider.

The CEO's future appears to have been discussed at consecutive meetings of both the Domain board and the Isocnz council on August 24, after Mott made his complaint.

Mott says O'Brien's departure should not delay progress to a competitive domain name registration model, as recommended by a panel led by Victoria University professor John Hine. Gray says the company is ready to "ready to move to its next phase of development" on the basis of the Hine report.

The Domainz board will apparently continue to financially support O'Brien's defamation case against Manawatu Internet Services director Alan Brown. Brown has been in strife with both Domainz and its shareholder, Isocnz, again lately. He was suspended from the Isocnz members' mailing list for two weeks after Isocnz executive director Sue Leader found comments he made about Domainz' PR company had breached the list's acceptable use policy. After he gained access to the members' list by spoofing Leader's email address, and posting insults about her, the Isocnz council decided to extend his ban to four weeks and to the public isocnz-l list. A decision to enforce the ban by removing the gateway between the list and the nz.isocnz.org newsgroup has infuriated many members.

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