back to article Chairman, CEO of Nominet ousted as member rebellion drives .uk registry back to non-commercial roots

The CEO and chairman of Nominet have been ousted by the .uk internet registry operator's membership. Three other members were also removed from the not-for-profit’s board in a clear rejection of their efforts to push the company in a more commercial direction. At an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Monday, a single …

  1. Alpine Hermit
    Mushroom

    Excellent news!

    What goes around finally comes around.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Democracy can be a wonderful thing.

      Such was the level of distrust that PublicBenefit.uk organiser Simon Blackler refused to give a three-minute rundown of his campaign’s position at the EGM after Nominet told him he would need to logout of the meeting after giving his remarks and then log back in again.

      Err.. No. This is one of the many curious decisions Nominet has made over the years that hasn't been rooted in any technical, operational or moral basis. Can't say I'm entirely suprised that Mr Blackler, holder of the many proxy votes chose to ignore Nominet.

      Still, closer than I'd have hope, and it looks like the fix was almost in. But now Nominet can get back to basics.

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Excellent news!

      Yep, pretty much "thank fuck for that". Hopefully some sanity can now descend.

    3. HildyJ Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Excellent news!

      Definitely a thumbs up and a celebratory pint for those who made it happen.

      But the cynic in me is worried. With OSI scrapping their recent board election due to hacking, I wonder if we're about to see a Trumpian denial of the results.

    4. N2
      Pint

      Re: Excellent news!

      Agree entirely, long overdue for a purge of the greedy f***ers

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Excellent news!

        I wonder if resigning just hours before being kicked out the door will affect the size of the Golden Parachute? The cycnic in may says it will. Greed indeed!

    5. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

      Re: Excellent news!

      They simply carried on in the same vein as before. The definition of bad management.

    6. DoogalMcFungus

      Re: Excellent news!

      It is a rare and delightful thing to see karma in action in a corporate environment, and in such a public way.

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Excellent news!

        Yes indeed.

        The thing that made me chuckle was this statement: ...the campaign was no more than a “small minority of members,”

        Looks more like: ...the campaign was no more than a “small majority of members,”

        Hubris then nemesis. Wonderful.

    7. Sanford Olson

      Re: Excellent news!

      Awesome. About time. Charging people for domains they didn't want was enough for me (https://www.theregister.com/2020/06/16/nominet_dot_uk_renewals/)

  2. tel2016

    The next move

    is to carry out an audit of Nominet's books. Just to be on the safe side.

    1. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: The next move

      Perhaps a staff meeting by new acting chair as well. Reassure that the actual work will carry on and probably become more important as the organisation focuses on its actual core role.

    2. Siusaidh

      Re: The next move

      There are disclosures to come.

      1. Flywheel Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: The next move

        They'll need to be watched like a hawk by a Vulture!

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: The next move

      a FORENSIC audit

      Thgere's a world of difference here

      Take it from soneone who's been down this path before, they WILL argue an "audit" is sufficient to avoid having the liabilities land on them

      All an accounting "audit" does is to verify the columns in the books add up. A full forensic audit actually looks behind the umbers and looks at what money actually went where, for what reasons

      Expect the remaining and former board members to throw every possible legal obstruction at preventing them being held to account and their activities exposed. "Commercial sensitivity" and "contractual secrecy" are both items likely to figure highly in the reasons

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: The next move

        Expect the remaining and former board members to throw every possible legal obstruction at preventing them being held to account and their activities exposed. "Commercial sensitivity" and "contractual secrecy" are both items likely to figure highly in the reasons

        I'm not sure they could be obstructive. The results of any forensic audit could be made public, or at least available to members. Old, active board members may try to object, but could be outvoted, ie it's in the member's interests to see the true position of the company. It may be embarassing, but this is effectively a house-cleaning exercise and chance for a fresh start.

        It may be embarassing to former board members, but that's not something that might be easily challenged, ie facts are facts. Contract or commercial sensitivity would really only apply to relationships with 3rd parties, not any wholey owned Nominet entities.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The next move

      I would look to change the rules so that whole management board have to be voted in each year if they wish to keep control away from bad management.

      This time the EGM was successful, eventually, however without major changes in management practices to limit management using "long knife" methods to disenfrancise the members then it will happen again.

      There are a other not4profits with the same management structure and policies that didn't escape the death hold, this win should not be wasted but used to create a new management model policy so that those trusted to control a not4profit cannot change the rules so as to divert funds away from the core business.

    5. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Tighten AGM influencing rules.

      And get the articles of association changed to stop the Board and Management using company resources to promote EGM/AGM topics in an unbalanced way. Either both proposer and opposer should be able to use company resources to lobby or neither.

  3. jonathan keith Silver badge
    Pint

    Very well done...

    ... Simon Blackler.

    1. Ian 55

      Re: Very well done...

      Give him whatever gong he wants too..

      .. including a giant bronze one, as at the start of the old Rank films.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Very well done...

        "a giant bronze one, as at the start of the old Rank films."

        Except it was a prop (made out of hardboard I think) and certainly not the one Jimmy Blades played for the sound track. It would have been appropriate for Nominet management, however.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Very well done...

          I head that the 'gong' was, in fact made of papier mâché, and had the well-muscled gentleman actually hit it with his stick it would have fallen apart. Rather like the Nominet board did just recently.

          (Where's a winking icon when you need it?)

          1. KittenHuffer Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Very well done...

            That's the closest icon for your requirements --------------->

            .

            .

            .

            Oh! You said winking!!!!!

            1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
              Big Brother

              Re: Very well done...

              @ KittenHuffer

              You are NOT the Messiah, you are A VERY NAUGHTY BOY!

              (Stern face icon.)

          2. Pigeon

            Re: Very well done...

            I like this diversion. James Blades said it was indeed papier mâché, and the instrument was a tam-tam (a couple of feet across). The recording took three takes because the muscle man had creaky shoes.

            1. jonathan keith Silver badge

              Re: Very well done...

              I've just fallen down the YouTube "Gongs" rabbit hole. Help!

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNZBE9fHLJQ

      2. nematoad Silver badge

        Re: Very well done...

        To quote Carry On Up The Khyber "Rank stupidity".

        Pretty much like the late management of Nominet.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very well done...

      Indeed, I hope many will now benefit, from a better-run Nominet as well as the charities Nominet ought to be supporting, thanks to one person choosing to act to right a set of wrongs.

      An idle innocent wonder: Gosh, there have been DDOS attacks on some Krystal platforms over the last few days...

  4. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Trollface

    I'm sad it's over

    This was some truly fine low-stakes drama. Hopefully there will be a nice juicy aftermath wherein terrible scandals continue coming to light.

  5. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Devil

    3 hours.

    One can only guess at what was happening. Possibly some flustered chaps hacking a spreadsheet trying to find away to plausibly massage the counts into not losing? Or 15 minutes of calculations, followed by 2.75 hours of digital shredding. Or three hours in a conf call with a tame QC to find a way of invalidating the lot or suing the winners?

    1. Ian 55

      Re: 3 hours.

      "I'm a desperate man! And second, I want some fresh coffee. And third, I want a recount! And no matter how it turns out, I want my old job back!"

      1. Dazed and Confused

        Re: 3 hours.

        > And no matter how it turns out, I want my old job back!"

        Or at least "I want my old gravy train back"

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: I won that election!

          BY A LOT!

  6. graeme leggett

    Management manoeuvres

    Sounded like the last hours of a junta as they realised the rebels had actually seized the national radio station

    1. seven of five Silver badge

      Re: Management manoeuvres

      And having parked a trusty T-55 up their lawn while they themself had geared up for a NERF battle...

  7. David Austin

    Nominet Mistepped every way possible.

    This needs to be studied by future campaign managers as how not to do things; it's well within the reals of reason that every antagonistic, duplicitous trick the board played in the last six weeks cost them the 5 percent they lost by.

    Not to forget the confrontational way the closed the forum was the spark that ignited this whole mess.

    Whatever comes next has got to be better; Hoping the rest of the board read the writing on the wall, and appoint the two suggested directors.

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Nominet Mistepped every way possible.

      That would not be at all surprising.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Nominet Mistepped every way possible.

      "This needs to be studied by future campaign managers as how not to do things"

      People like this, so convinced of their own position, aren't going to study how anyone else did things.

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Nominet Mistepped every way possible.

      it's well within the reals of reason that every antagonistic, duplicitous trick the board played in the last six weeks cost them the 5 percent they lost by.

      It's also well possible that their tricks - being secretive about how voting numbers were calculated, a concerted campaign of FUD, making email addresses of members unavailable to campaigners whilst bombarding the same members with pro no-vote emails, and so on, actually narrowed that margin to only 5%. If they had played fair, it could well have been a bigger margin, but by the sounds of it, the likelihood of them deciding to play fair at the last minute was miniscule. Once they started down the road of heavy-handedness and obfuscation, there was no going back, and it's good to see them get their just desserts.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Nominet Mistepped every way possible.

        All they needed was a lie painted on a bus and they collect the set

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Nominet Mistepped every way possible.

          Careful, you'll wake "them" with comments like that.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Nominet Mistepped every way possible.

      I'm quite sure Simon Blackler studied what happened in New Zealand with ISOCNZ/DOMAINZ to avoid past mistakes

      Good on him

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It isn't over

    Email from Robert Binns acting Chairman Nominet

    "To start with, the named Directors have vacated their Board seats. And Russell Haworth announced yesterday that he is stepping down from his role as CEO. Eleanor Bradley and Ben Hill remain in their executive positions."

    The proposal passed by members was to remove 5 directors, not 5 board members. The above are still executives, how's that supposed to work unless we get a new board of new appointees like the last lot?

    1. TechnicalVault

      Employment law still applies

      The problem is executive directors are also employees with management responsibilities and thus cannot be as easily dismissed as a non-executive director. Employment law applies and that means any dismissal will take time and negotiation. I suspect that long term their positions will be untenable as it is clear from the vote that they have lost the confidence of members, but it will take a while to unwind matters.

      1. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

        Re: Employment law still applies

        Directors don't have employment rights.

        1. TechnicalVault

          Re: Employment law still applies

          Citation needed, If for example a firm fails to follow the articles of association when dismissing a director then they may have a claim for unfair dismissal. Google and see how many solicitors are happy to sue for this.

        2. rg287 Silver badge

          Re: Employment law still applies

          Directors don't have employment rights.

          As Directors, no. A Directorship is an office, not an employment.

          But directors can also be employees under S230 of the Employment Act 1996. Dismissing them from the Board has no automatic impact on their employment and getting rid of them follows normal employment law or hoping they do the decent thing and resign on the basis their position is untenable (without getting into constructive dismissal).

          Just as Haworth would have had to resign (it's not tenable for the CEO not to be on the board) so Hill (as CFO) will have to go too. Bradley is a little more flexible, but it would be bizarre for the MD of the Registry business not to be C-Suite.

          1. General Purpose Bronze badge

            Re: Employment law still applies

            Well, in many organisations the CEO can't be on the board. Until quite recently, charities couldn't pay their board members (aka "trustees"), and most charities haven't changed their articles to take advantage of the change in law, so none of their executives are on the board. (The board may bring them into meetings to report and inform, but may exclude them from parts too.)

            Maybe, as a not-for-profit, Nominet would have done well to follow that rule.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Employment law still applies

        >Employment law applies and that means any dismissal will take time and negotiation.

        They've been dismissed, the severance clause in their contracts now applies (so expect them to walk away with overly large exit payments). No negotiation required.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Employment law still applies

          If forensic audits are suspected to be likely to find gross mismanagement/miscondict then the payouts might be withheld pending those results

          Especially if there's a high chance that paying them out early would result in future clawbacks being difficult

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: It isn't over

      The proposal passed by members was to remove 5 directors, not 5 board members.

      The "Board" is more fully known as "The Board of Directors". "Board Members" and "Directors" are the same thing.

      1. General Purpose Bronze badge

        Re: It isn't over

        Exactly. A board of directors often includes staff members (who are usually senior managers / executives) and people who aren't employed by the company. The two groups are usually called "executive directors" and "non-executive directors". (Sometimes other workers will be directors too.)

        The EGM has removed various people from the board. It doesn't change whether or not they're employees. No employee will have had an employment contract saying that they're entitled to be a director, that's not something the HR department or the CEO can promise.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gravy train, meet buffers. Buffers: gravy train.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sadly, I fear it will be more "Gravy Train meet Speed Bump" as they spend the next few weeks using the back doors installed during that mysterious 3-hour "count" to massage the records to show the cupboards were empty /before/ they left.

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Coat

        Gravy Train meet Speed Bump

        So nothing's really changed, but we're all covered in gravy?

        Mine's the plastic poncho. --->

    2. Red Ted Silver badge
      WTF?

      And it came to pass...

      ...and the world continued to buy and sell .uk domains.

  10. Ian 55

    Looking for a new registrar

    Mine - and it wasn't GoDaddy for the reasons that should be obvious to anyone who's used them - doesn't seem to have signed up to vote in favour of the resolution.

    Apart from the initial joining fee, it would make sense to become a member given how *.uk domains I have. Please can the new board reduce that £400 cost?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Looking for a new registrar

      If you want a registrar that supported it for a while, the publicbenefit.uk homepage lists the supporters. The largest ones who supported for a while are Gandi, 20I, Coherent, Crystal, and ANY-Web. Two even larger ones, TUCOWS and Namecheap, also voted in support but made up their minds later. There are about 480 other supporting members available. I have only listed those managing over 30K .uk domains. There is plenty of competition available while allowing you to stick with companies supporting the motion.

      1. koopacontrol

        Re: Looking for a new registrar

        I use 1 & 1 Ionos, who have been quiet so far. As a large member, who could have supported the motion, but chose not to - I would be interested to hear them explain their position, nothing on their website that I can see..

    2. Spasticus Autisticus

      My preferred registrar/host are EX Networks/Express Hosting - they voted YES

  11. Siusaidh

    I am full of respect for the way Simon Blackler organised this campaign and the way he conducted himself. It is also moving to see so many members taking a stand and saying enough is enough. And a call out to Kieren McCarthy for such persistent journalism too.

    The campaign is of course only halfway there. The signatories called for a Resolution 2 as well: that Sir Michael Lyons be appointed as new interim Chairman, and Axel Pawlik also be made a director, to fill a vacuum of leadership in the company.

    The considerable challenge is that the remaining directors have reportedly been unanimous in opposition to Resolution 1, let alone Resolution 2 which they blocked. Therefore, as things stand, Nominet is in the hands of people who opposed the Public Benefit campaign.

    Not all those directors actually hold the convictions promulgated by the CEO and Chairman. But a time is coming where they have to decide whether to recognise the prevailing wishes of the membership, which included the early appointment of Sir Michael as interim chair - something which has been done before and is by no means unwise, given his credentials and knowledge of the company, and the need for orderly transition - or to obstruct the wishes of the membership which have been demonstrated today. The campaign was about both resolutions.

    I’d suggest they need to decide whether they accept the changes called for, or step down, or resist and obstruct.

    That final option would be tiresome for all, and damaging for the company, because in setting themselves in opposition to the will of the members (who delegate power to them and can remove that power) they would be risking a Resolution 3, which would remove them as well. Simon Blackler has now set a deadline of March 26th (the end of this week) for them to indicate if they will opt for that early appointment of Sir Michael. In practice I suspect they may need two weeks to consult and clarify.

    However, their response will indicate whether they have really heard the will of the members and accepted the changes proposed, or not.

    But for tonight, a sincere well done to Simon Blackler, and to everyone who cared enough to take a stand for the UK namespace.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "The considerable challenge is that the remaining directors have reportedly been unanimous in opposition to Resolution 1, let alone Resolution 2 which they blocked."

      This is chapter and verse repeat of what happened in 2001 with DOMAINZ

      Presumably Simon et al have studued how to deal with that

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It ain't over til it's over, or as was said many Moons ago

    Change it had to come

    We knew it all along

    We were liberated from the fold that's all

    And the world looks just the same

    And history ain't changed

    Cause the banners, they all flown in the last war

    I'll tip my hat to the new constitution

    Take a vow for the new revolution

    Smile and grin at the change all around

    Pick up my guitar and play

    Just like yesterday

    Then I'll get on my knees and pray

    We don't get fooled again

    No, no!

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: It ain't over til it's over, or as was said many Moons ago

      Meet the new boss;

      same as the old boss...

  13. nautica Bronze badge
    Big Brother

    Think that we're not periously close--continually--to idiocy? To lunacy? Think again!

    As one whose avocation is statistics, something was nagging at me as I finished reading this well-reported (and very well-done) article.

    When I decided that I might know what was causing my "itch which needed to be scratched", I checked on what I generally remembered of the last US election (presidential). Here is what I found, regarding the US's popular vote (the actual vote tallies of individuals; of real PEOPLE, and not the 'Electoral College' vote count) for the two candidates--

    Donald Trump: 47.7%; Joe Biden: 52.3% [for simplicity, let's call the loser-winner ratio 48:52].

    Now, from this article--

    “...At an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Monday, a single resolution to remove all five passed narrowly [PDF] with 52.7 per cent of the vote...". [again: for simplicity, let's peg this loss-win ratio at 47:53].

    Now, the correlation between these two loser-winner ratios is either a fluke of some kind, or an indication of a much larger, much more prevalent--and extremely disturbing--situation.

    What is just as disturbing is that history demonstrates that we are content to not educate ourselves, to let our emotions rather than facts make our decisions for us, and to let this perilous situation be a continuing part of our very existence.

    It has been said, in one form or another, that democracy is a particularly poor form of government (“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter”--Sir Winston Churchill) since most would acknowledge that the majority of the population are ill-informed (some, somewhat indelicately, have characterized the majority as' fools').

    I prefer to remember Sir Winston Churchill's 'take' on the situation, to wit:

    "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.";

    and that of John Philpot Curran:

    "The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance [emphasis added]; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.

    It seems as if these two sets of data presented here indicate, and indeed dictate that there exists a perilously close gap between freedom, and the lack of it.

    *******************************************************

    "I can never forget that one of the most gifted, best educated nations in the world, of its own free will, surrendered its fate into the hands of a maniac."--Eric Hoffer

    [for the benefit of you 47 / 48 percent who live in an alternate universe, Hoffer is talking about the maniac--yes, maniac--named Adolph Hitler. But you probably think (if you think, at all, of that one instance of insanity, on a world-wide level, that Hitler was an OK sort of guy who's gotten a bad rap, and that it's somewhat sad that he's just a little misunderstood]

    1. Bartholomew Bronze badge

      Re: Think that we're not periously close--continually--to idiocy? To lunacy? Think again!

      To be fair, there is not even democracy in a democracy any more, the whole system is biased. When less a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of the population gets to decide who the whole population are allowed to choose between (the pre-election, money election, to filter out undesirables):

      Lawrence Lessig explaining Lesterland is well worth a watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mw2z9lV3W1g

    2. graeme leggett

      Re: Think that we're not periously close--continually--to idiocy? To lunacy? Think again!

      I think the 48/52 is more likely a case of Pareidolia on your part.

    3. Lotaresco

      Re: Think that we're not periously close--continually--to idiocy? To lunacy? Think again!

      GODWIN

    4. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Think that we're not periously close--continually--to idiocy? To lunacy? Think again!

      nautica: quoting Eric Hoffer: "I can never forget that one of the most gifted, best educated nations in the world, of its own free will, surrendered its fate into the hands of a maniac."

      Hoffer was wrong to suggest that it was 'of its own free will'. There was considerable physical violence by the NAZI sympathisers and members towards all who opposed them, particularly political opponents, Knonrad Adenaur being one of the rare exceptions to get elected opposing the NAZIs. Hitler was appointed chancellor by Paul von Hindenburg while Germany suffered extreme inflation and terrible stress due to paying for reparations to the allies for the 'Great' (now first world) war. Germany was a not a peaceful, prosperous democracy a the time, there were over 30 different political parties.

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: Think that we're not periously close--continually--to idiocy? To lunacy? Think again!

        yep. Nazi vote in open election about 30%

        Reichstag Fire - presidential decree limits civil liberties

        Decree used to remove opposition

        Enabling Act passed through support from conservative parties and intimidation of opposing parties gives absolute power to Mr Hilter.

        And then the propaganda really begins to be used on the German people.

  14. frankyunderwood123

    Good news! - now look at the books

    This is great news, the fun times on the Haworth express gravy train are over.

    Back to brass tacks and a focus back on what was always the real purpose - to run a registry as a non-profit organisation!

    Hopefully a thorough financial audit will now be done, just to be sure everything was 'above board' over the last few years of money being thrown at attempts to diversify.

    Also, hopefully .co.uk domains renewal prices will return at least part the way back to where they really should be, in time!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2 Board Members will still keep working for Nominet

    Eleanor Bradley and Ben Hill to remain in their executive posts.

    Eleanor Bradley and Ben Hill were on the Board. As quoted many times, the Board were unanimous in their decisions. This is the same Board that used all the dirty tricks possible.

    The ideology of straying away from Nominet’s core values whilst being paid very nicely at the same time are embedded within the Board members psyche. An ideology that will still remain concealed even when remaining in Nominet in their executive posts.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    One question

    What the hell is it that Nominet actually does?

    For all that's visible to the average chap on the Clapham Omnibus, it looks like they manage a bloody big spreadsheet/database of names, addresses, and IP addresses, and tell the top level DNS servers what points where.

    Obviously there's more to it that I'm the chap on the Clapham Omnibus is missing, because that doesn't take a fistful of executive types to manage that, and I he can't imagine that any ethical and competent executives would remain in a pointless post simply because the pay was good and the expense lunches tasty.

    Seriously - what do they do that couldn't be done by a bloke in a shed at the bottom of his garden?

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Joke

      Who Me?

      "What could be worse than killing a golden goose? Killing someone else's golden goose"

      This week's "Who Me?" feature.

      https://www.theregister.com/2021/03/22/who_me/

      A future article will feature how, "Simon" (not his real name!) halted the gravy train at a UK not-for-profit public benefit organisation

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: One question

      That's pretty much it. The only thing that they are doing that couldn't be done by a bloke in a shed at the bottom of his garden is the Dispute Resolution stuff, however to be fair I suspect that most of these issues arise because Nominet essentially appears to have a first registered first served policy for registrations, and also has no problems with mass registrations by domain squatters, probably because they pay them lots.

      Changing the rules to make it clear that domain squatters etc might as well just pack up and go home because you won't support their business would likely remove most of the need for arbitration.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One question

      "Seriously - what do they do that couldn't be done by a bloke in a shed at the bottom of his garden?".

      The same as any other major TLD. Operate a registry that processes thousands of add/renew/delete/update requests every day - and never fail. Run a DNS service that handles billions of queries per day - and never fails. Run a whois service that handles billions of queries per day - and never fails. Provide a dispute resolution service and policy making procedures. Interact with law enforcement, government, regulators and so on. Plus the cuddly stuff like outreach, member engagement, participation in ICANN and other industry forums. Then there's the usual business stuff - sales, marketing, finance, contracts, HR, etc.

      This takes a bit more resourcing than "a bloke in a shed at the bottom of his garden".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: member engagement

        Fuck me! Which story have you been reading? How difficult is it to disable a forum?

        You were on solid ground talking about scale. Had to ruin it with hyperbole.

        Get back to clearing your desk Mark.

      2. Lunatic Looking For Asylum

        Re: One question

        Bloke with a big shed then.

        Marketing - the registrars do that - why do Nominet need to do it ?.

        Finance - only needed to find intuitive ways to line the directors pockets - realistically :-

        money in from domains - (server costs + staff costs + a bit for contingency + a bit for good causes) == 0.

        Personally, I knew they's blew it when I found they were using Oracle as the backend database,

        The registry is only as bloated and inefficient as it has been made by the gravy chasing leadership has made it over the last few decades.

        Nominet have tried (successfully!!) to make a mountain of the molehill, it seriously does need reforming and has done for several years, I have been a member for over 20 years and when I started there wereother members complaining about the way it was run - and they wee right then and they are still right - it's just that Nominet managed to sideline, ignore and gerrymander the system against them.

        Any idiot can run a monopoly, unfortunately for the erstwhile board, they were special idiots that brought the monopoly down.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: One question

          "Marketing - the registrars do that - why do Nominet need to do it ?"

          To encourage registrars to sell .uk names instead of .whatever. Or persuade registrars to make .uk at least as prominent as the other tat^WTLDs that they're selling. Registrars won't market a TLD if they think the registry doesn't do that or won't support their marketing efforts.

          If registrars don't like a TLD, they won't sell it or promote it to their customers and the TLD is fucked. The "success" of these new gTLDs proves that.

          Registry finance is non-trivial. Ask a beancounter about deferred revenue accounting or cross-border (and now post-Brexit) VAT.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: One question

            "To encourage registrars to sell .uk names instead of .whatever."

            Seriously, they don't do that and don't need to. That's an issue for the new GTLDs because A) nobody has seen them so they don't have any existing credibility and B) there are hundreds of them available. Neither is the case for .uk. .uk is what you buy if you want to look like you're connected to the UK. Everybody knows that. It doesn't have a massive selling point otherwise. It's also very popular as TLDs go just because the UK has had sites for a long time. Anything they're spending advertising .uk is money wasted.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: One question

        > This takes a bit more resourcing than "a bloke in a shed at the bottom of his garden".

        The resourcing involved isn't hugely expensive

        Most of the money was being spaffed on non-core functionality - meaning the tail was well and truely wagging the dog

    4. frankyunderwood123

      Re: One question

      I think you should go into your shed, lock the door and throw the key out the window.

      Then have just a little think about the ridiculous statement you just made.

      All the upvoters of this particular clueless comment should join you - could get a bit crowded in there.

      Running a registry of the size of .co.uk is an incredibly complex and involved process.

      It is classed as critical infrastructure, for obvious reasons.

      But, heck, I'm not going to do the homework for you - if you are truly interested in actually having a clue, go and research it, then come back and tell me you could run the same operation from your shed.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: One question

        Granted, there's a bunch of infrastructure that needs to be maintained, and upgraded as hardware reaches EoL. That hardly needs a board to oversee it, it's a technical day-to-day job by people the board would never involve themselves with. I think of the hardware people in my organisation, and the sort of things they have to do on a day-to-day basis, with no board involvement whatsoever, and I work in an organisation that by its nature manages a lot of change for a lot of clients, in various and myriad ways.

        The job of a registrar, on the other hand, is notable in its unchanging nature: Keep a lit of domain names, manage renewals, maintain infrastructure hardware such as root DNS servers, have DR plans for such, and so on. All stuff which should have been well settled a couple of decades ago. It's not like the protocols that underpin the internet change substantially on an ongoing basis. The last actual change I can think of is the deprecation of TLS 1.0, and unless I'm mistaken, that will have affected Nominet in nothing but the most cursory fashion, since they are responsible for the domain names, not the transport layer implementation of individual websites.

        1. graeme leggett

          Re: One question

          The board's job is to employ (and check on) executives who in turn make the resources available to do the thing the organization exists to do - that's the theory.

      2. Lunatic Looking For Asylum

        Re: One question

        You are Russel Howarth and I claim my £5.00

        1. Kaki

          Re: One question

          I think you'll find by the @ handle that he's Mark Wood and he's still sad.

  17. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Those efforts have been a failure, but it didn’t stop the senior management from awarding themselves huge bonuses and pay rises.

    Isn't that the standard practice in IT?

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      re: Isn't that the standard practice in IT?

      As opposed to what? What industry is it that has senior managers who aren't greedy shits?

      Must be lovely.

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Strange outburst from Godaddy blaming everybody but themselves

      Never used godaddy, always thought there was something sleazy about them.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Strange outburst from Godaddy blaming everybody but themselves

      You seem to have a faulty shift key. Every time you hit it it mostly inserts an @.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nominet needs to open up its books

    One of the priority tasks is for Nominet to start unravelling from these new tlds. This would of course mean no more trips abroad to promote these back-end services i.e. “jollies” as was Las Vegas.

    https://www.nominet.uk/what-happened-at-namescon-global-2019/

    https://www.nominet.uk/events/namescon-dinner/

    Talking of Nominet providing back-end services to the the new tlds (the new “shinys”), Eleanor Bradley in the EGM said “We do this with a healthy margin, we do not cross subsidize”. Eleanor Bradley no longer Director is still in executive post.

    To see what tlds Nominet is involved in:

    https://ntldstats.com/backend/Nominet

    Looking down the chart how was it cost-justifiable to provide services to .wed (now dead in the water) with just 35 registrations and .moi with just 262 registrations etc etc?

    Ben Hill, no longer Director is still in executive post, needs to open up the financial accounts to the new incoming Directors.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Nominet needs to open up its books

      Ben Hill, no longer Director is still in executive post

      Will his final exit from the post be accompanied with a playing of Yakety Sax?

    2. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: Nominet needs to open up its books

      One of the priority tasks is for Nominet to start unravelling from these new tlds.

      Why? If you have decades of experience running a stable registry then that's one of the few useful "diversified" income streams you can develop outside of your core .UK business. Nominet enjoys a global reputation for their expertise in that core role.

      Organisations like NATS enjoy a profitable sideline in providing training and technical consultancy services to other countries in addition to their core job of running Air Traffic Control for the UK and most UK airports.

      Provided there is no cross-subsidy and it's a self-sustaining, profitable business then providing back-ends to other TLDs (whether brandTLDs, gTLDs or small national domains) is an eminently sensible business for them to be in - much more so than autonomous vehicles!

      .wed might have catastrophically few registrations but that's on the Registry (Top Level Domain Holdings). So long as they're paying Nominet a fair service fee, then a TLD's (lack of) profitability is none of Nominet's concern. We should be happy to take their money and funnel it into Public Benefit causes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nominet needs to open up its books

        The Great British domain name rip-off: Overcharged .uk customers help pay for cheaper .vodka

        www.theregister.com/2016/09/26/great_british_domain_name_ripoff

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Nominet needs to open up its books

      "This would of course mean no more trips abroad to promote these back-end services i.e. “jollies” as was Las Vegas."

      Flying First Class, of course....

  20. Al fazed Bronze badge
    WTF?

    As a director of a not for profit organisation, I am very surprised that the FCA has not become involved regarding the divergence between the last company directors actions and the "not for profit" clause in Nominet's Governing Document.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      The FCA regulates "friendly societies". Building Societies are the most well known examples of these, which is why the FCA is involved, but your local working men's club is probably also a friendly society, and has to comply with the same rules.

      The Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies regulates community interest companies.

      The Charities Commission regulates charities - different rules in Scotland and Northern Ireland, they have their own charity regulators.

      HMRC regulates Community Amateur Sports Clubs.

      Nominet is not any of these so is not regulated by any of them. Just Companies House who mostly only care that they file the correct documents on time.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      " I am very surprised that the FCA has not become involved"

      Unless actively asked to get involved by the organisations in question they (and the fraud squad) will NOT poke their noses in unless the cases are so blatent that they MUST get involved or lose face

      This is why fraud and corruption in councils are almost never investigated unless there's an actual change of management (Even when auditors produced a report showing evidence of seriously dodgy behaviour, it was imposssible to get regulators/investigators to look at it)

  21. Coastal cutie

    Good - now time to open the books to the Fraud Squad and see what steps can be taken to disqualify them as Directors.

  22. Lotaresco

    Mark Wood, clinging on with his fingernails

    I see Mark Wood has appealed to the government to overthrow this vote. He's continuing his claims from three days ago that Nominet is "part of the critical national infrastructure" and has stated several times that "The government is watching the situation closely". This sounds like an appeal to cronies in government to back up his particular right to the gravy train. An independent not for profit Nominet would be an asset to CNI since it would be independent of commercial interests and have a vested interest in providing an efficient service. Nominet as-is with its burbled nonsense about "for profit with a purpose" only had an interest in maximising the payments to its officers. That was the "purpose" of profit as seem by the chairman, directors, and CEO.

    Nominet claims Government could intervene in boardroom ousting

    "Mr Wood claimed the Government may intervene using an obscure claims of the Digital Economy Act to retake control of the registry in the event of a “serious” failing that could harm consumers."

    I agree with Simon Blackler that Mr Wood was, and is, trying to spread FUD and I'll add that he appears to be trying to bamboozle the government with technobabble in the hope that he can scare them into letting him continue to profit from Nominet.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Mark Wood, clinging on with his fingernails

      Given that the members are registrars, very much part of that critical infrastructure, they know at least as much as Mr Wood about operating it. Directors approved of by those members should be relied on to run it properly unless events prove otherwise. The fact that the members, given their background, did not approve of the existing directors should tell any government watching the situation closely all they need to know.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Mark Wood, clinging on with his fingernails

      Very much from the Trumpian playbook:

      • Claim that the vote process was invalid despite the fact that it has been verified by a highly respected independent scrutineer.
      • Lobby government officials to declare the vote invalid
      • When that fails, go to court to have it declared invalid
      • When they are laughed out of court, hold a press conference at a garden centre car park next to the ring-road to bemoan the injustice of it all
      • When that fails, incite a mob to attack Nominet HQ
      • Have your Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube, and Instagram accounts deleted for inciting violence, and spend the rest of your days gabbing into to the void in some obscure social media platform that normal people haven't heard of.

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Mark Wood, clinging on with his fingernails

      "part of the critical national infrastructure"

      Has he mentioned the vital role that Nominet has played in the fight against Covid-19?

  23. Panicnow

    Check the bank account

    My guess is there will need to be an immediate forensic audit of the company.

  24. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Having jumped before he was pushed what severance package did Haworth negotiate in the hours before the EGM?

    1. X5-332960073452
      Unhappy

      That was my first thought also

  25. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Happy

    A Controversial Statement corm an el Reg Commentard

    I realise that this may come as a shock to many of you, so deep breath, put down that cup:

    THE WORLD HAS NOT ENDED. IT IS STILL THERE. DRAGONS ARE NOT FLYING AROUND KILLING EVERYONE.

    So the worst prediction fo disaster form teh former board of Nominet have not come true.

    1. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge
      Joke

      Re: A Controversial Statement corm an el Reg Commentard

      I would have like to see those dragons

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: A Controversial Statement corm an el Reg Commentard

        Well, you could read Terry Pratchett's 'The Colour of Magic' or Patrick Ness's 'Burn', then close your eyes and imagine them.

  26. Lon24 Silver badge
    Pint

    Kieran - take a holiday to destroy a few of these -->

    Being branded a liar (sorry, creator of fake news) and being barred from the EGM is another fit of pique is, I guess, an occupational hazard for journos these days. But, sadly, a strong indicator that you were on the money in so many ways ;-)

    I owe you a debt for making me aware of Simon's campaign that the old guard were very effectively hiding from their own membership. That helped roll-up the pledges even in advance of OCR-ing half a forest to get the postcard out.

    The difference you made may have been more than the winning margin. One bit you haven't reported on yet - is the Nominet staff who have always been loyal to membership and delivered excellent service despite what was going on in the boardroom. What are they feeling today, euphoric too or worried for their jobs in a slimmed down and re-focussed Nominet? The old guard said the best talent would leave. Will they?

    In the old days keeping an ear cocked in an Abingdon pub might have provided answers. So no beers on expenses nowadays Kieran. Oh well - you know you did a good job. Hope it is firmly stuck to your CV - though it would be horrid if El Reg lost you.

    A grateful Nominet Member

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Kieran - take a holiday to destroy a few of these -->

      @Lon24, I've been following your comments on this topic for a while - it's clear you've kept a close eye on this. If you feel the Reg's coverage really has made a difference, then I'll just leave this here: https://www.private-eye.co.uk/paul-foot-award.

      I'd also say cheers from me Kieran, I'll admit to issuing a little fist pump this morning when I read this. Not bad for a topic I knew little about a few weeks ago. Thanks.

  27. Joe Harrison

    What does the headline actually mean?

    "Chairman, CEO of Nominet"

    What does that grammatical mess actually mean? "Chairman, and CEO, of Nominet"?

    1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: What does the headline actually mean?

      You may not like it as style (and I agree that outside a headline or other compressed summary, like a Minutes of Meeting, it would be poor communication) but one thing it is not is ungrammatical.

      Your proposed alternative would be equally grammatical and equally poor style - the pair of commas implies the "and CEO" is parenthetical whereas it is obviously intended the Chairman and CEO carry the same weight. Normal writing would be "Chairman and CEO of Nominet both ousted..." but that is obviously not as good in a headline context.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Expect more of the same.

    Whilst 2 executives stay in position until they receive their ridiculously overly inflated severance ( no shame from them 2) & an acting chairman who praises the work of a Chairman who has overseen the removal of 5 board members, you can expect the same rubbish you have seen for many many years.

    You can’t have internal executives who are highlighted as having an unacceptable vision for the company, leading individuals in the company, it is untenable & they need to resign & have some self respect, not just look for a larger golden handshake.

    There are more ingrained issues in the company from the advice being given to the board from within the company, whether that is from a legal, policy or member engagement perspective. All 3 have shown complete disregard for the average member & all 3 come under the leadership of these 2 executive. It’s a mindset within the organisation that needs removing & unfortunately it’s fairly deep rooted now.

  29. damo2929

    Time for a full spring clean

    now it needs a manager clean

    all of HR need to go for supporting the fraud.

  30. bladster

    Coming Soon to ... Netflix (other streaming services are available)

    With the spate of buying up any old drama, this has got to be on the list

  31. Howard Sway Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Tis a rare day indeed

    when those in high places receive their just punishment for appalling behaviour.

    One to savour.

  32. IGotOut Silver badge

    It's ok.

    They'll get a MBE / OBE and a cushy government job like all the other overpaid fuckwits.

  33. rg287 Silver badge

    Much closer than I perhaps expected in terms of organisations rather than weighted votes. There was the suspicion that GoDaddy and Ionos were going to vote against, but it's interesting to see that over 630 members joined them - not a case of a few of the top-10 throwing their (capped) votes around and drowning out hordes of smaller members.

    We heard a lot from Public Benefit and from the board during the campaign, but with one exception those orgs have kept their heads down and few have argued in support of the board online.

    The results from Civica show the average weighted votes per voter was:

    * FOR - 3286.6

    * AGAINST - 3448.5

    Which shows significant engagement on both sides from small <1,000 vote members (to tug that average down from the big boys throwing around 100k+ votes at a time).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      One side had the email addresses of all member

      And put to work teams of cavasers to contact members to tell them how bad the EGM proposal was.

      Can you guess which side it was?

      1. rg287 Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: One side had the email addresses of all member

        Without a doubt there will be a non-trivial number who simply did what they were told.

        I struggle to believe it was all 600+ though.

        Very glad that the motion passed, a pint for Simon --->

        It would just be interesting to hear the perspective from the other side - not that they're ever likely to raise their heads above the parapet and the voting seems to be secret ballot, so we won't know their names unless they tell us.

  34. Dabooka Silver badge

    Gerrin'

    Now we get to peak inside the decisions made in recent times audit the books and find out the state of things.

    I'd love to think this might make others across the world sit up and take note but I am no that optimistic

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nominet US Inc.

    Ever wonder what happened to the money you paid to register a co.uk domain name?

    Why would a UK domain name registry open an office in the United States? To sell co.uk domain names to Americans perhaps, or to justify trips for Nominet to pop over once in a while. Absolute folly.

    Has Nominet closed its United States presence or if not this needs to be a priority.

    Nominet US Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nominet UK established as a vehicle for employing staff based in the United States of America to support and facilitate expansion of new business in that region. www.nominet.uk/nominet-us-inc

    Registered Address:

    216 Park Road

    Burlingame

    Califormia 94010-4206 USA

    And www.nominet.uk/nominet-launches-in-north-american-market-cyber-security-specialist-brings-powerful-dns-level-threat-monitoring-and-analytics-to-identify-hidden-dangers-in-vast-datasets/

    Office 228

    Columbia Gateway

    6700 Alexander Bell Drive

    Suite 200

    Columbia Washington 21046, USA

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nominet US Inc.

      Why would a UK domain name registry open an office in the United States?

      Good question. Here are some others:

      Why did Nominet buy Cyglas? What did it cost? Is it a profit centre or a money pit?

      How is Cyglas's business any way related to running .uk?

      How much has Nominet pissed away on other non-core activities (white space spectrum, IoT, etc)?

      How much has Nominet pissed away on a pile of .shit TLDs? Have any of them reached break-even?

      Who hired Russell Howarth? Why?

      Why is Nominet recruiting for a job based in Canberra? What business is it doing there?

      https://jobs.nominet.uk/job/Canberra-Customer-Resolution-Advisor/658587301/

      1. ADomainRegistrar

        Re: Nominet US Inc.

        They probably have a PDNS contract in Aus and need local support staff there for it. No idea why they wouldn't just do this from the UK though.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the past, we clearly haven’t listened well enough to our members

    plain English: we thought we'd get away with this heist, what a shame!

    GOOD.

    FUCKING.

    RIDDANCE.

    p.s.got any calls from the government yet?! I'm sure they will appreciate your contribution :(

  37. ThePhantom

    Many moons ago, the Silicon Valley credit union (non profit, owned by the members) added some leadership to help professionalize operations. Within 6 months they voted to turn the place into a bank and increase their salaries and bonuses and award themselves stock. Just like Nominet's board, they also unceremoniously were voted out,

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Did it take 15 years to do it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Once upon a time the UK had a bunch of non-profit, member-owned building societies - Woolwich, Abbey National, C&G, Leeds, Halifax, etc. They were stable but boring businesses. Ffor the most part, prudently run and accountable to their members. Just like a TLD registry should be. Then the financial whizz kids moved in to make a fast buck and fucked it all up. Just like they did to Nominet.

      1. sitta_europea Silver badge

        "Once upon a time the UK had ... member-owned building societies ... Then the financial whizz kids moved in to make a fast buck ..."

        Then they get onto the Internet, fire a lot of people, and employ experts in IT:

        marc.info/?t=161539079600004&r=1&w=2

  38. dieseltaylor

    How to break the law

    Companies Act requires that the details of "shareholders" be supplied in the format requested by the applicant. Guessing that the request was not for 500 sheets of paper but a readable file then someone or some people neeed to be prosecuted. Please please do so.

    I was sent a large number of sheets of A3 with the tiniest print possible to show the 10,000 members [guarantors /shareholders] of the Consumers Association owners of Which? I threatened to go to court and the officers would have been liable for a daily fine so they coughed up a database as I had requested under the Act.

    Having multimillionaires appointed as charir of Which? Ltd ,owned by a consumer charity, was always an odd bemusing mix as their views on pay differ from the average person's view. . The CEO pulled over £4m in just over a decade. Not bad for a charity leader. The icing on the cake was a £2.24 bonus for four members of staff set-up in 2013. to run for three years. The businesses set up lost a combined £40m before being closed down . The addition of another storey and a roof garden were probably necessary to attract and employ more staff next to Regents Park..

    If anyone thinks that charities/ companies/ organisations are subject to effective scrutiny by the quangos and Government departments please take it that it is members or the public who have to be active to highlight gross milking of the entity by staff/directors/trustees.

  39. tmTM

    Stupid, greedy and completely incompetant

    They got what they deserved.

  40. sitta_europea Silver badge

    At long fucking last.

  41. toffer99

    So rare under this government that the good guys win. The odds are usually stacked in favour of money-grabbers.

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