Fadi Chehadé

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LinkedIn: LinkedInIcon.png   Fadi Chehadé
Twitter: TwitterIcon.png   @FChehade
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of the ICANN Board

Fadi Chehadé is Co-CEO of Ethos Capital and the former President and CEO of ICANN (2012-2016). In April 2016, Chehadé left ICANN to join the World Economic Forum, taking a role as the senior advisor to the Executive Chairman, Klaus Schwab.[1]

Fadi's first introduction to an ICANN crowd came in June 2012 at ICANN 44 in Prague, Czech Republic, where he introduced himself in a speech during the Opening Ceremony.[2] He replaced former CEO Rod Beckstrom.

On May 21, 2015, ICANN announced that Chehadé would end his tenure as president and CEO in March 2016. In a press release, ICANN stated that Mr. Chehadé "will be available to work closely with ICANN after March 2016 to support the transition to a new leader, as well as to advise the Board on any issue they require including the implementation of the IANA Stewardship Transition from the US Government to ICANN and the technical operating community." [3]

On 17 August 2015, he announced on the ICANN Blog that after he steps down he will be taking a position as a Senior Advisor on Digital Strategy for ABRY Partners, a Boston-based private equity investment firm. Additionally, he said that he plans on adding other responsibilities to his portfolio.[4]

In a news release from January 22, 2016, The World Economic Forum announced that the ICANN CEO would become a senior advisor to the Executive Chairman, Klaus Schwab starting April 1, 2016. Chehadé replied within the release, stating “I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the World Economic Forum’s work, advising the Global Challenge Initiative on the Future of the Internet,” said Fadi Chehadé. “I am deeply committed to doing everything I can to help ensure a trusted digital world, advancing global economic development and social progress for all. The Forum is uniquely positioned as an enabling platform to coalesce public, private and civic leaders and experts to form networks addressing the many economic and societal issues requiring global cooperation.” [5]


CEO Search

Fadi Chehadé was selected to replace Rod Beckstrom as ICANN's CEO, through the work of a CEO Search Committee . The topic of CEO succession planning was first discussed at an Board meeting on 17 September 2011, where they directed the Board Governance Committee to appoint members to a CEO Search Process Management Work Committee.[6] In January 2012, ICANN began openly advertising the position in places such as The Economist.[7] It was reported on February 21st, several days after the application period ended, that Odgers Berndtson had collected more than 100 applications for the position, with candidates coming in from community referrals, the ad in The Economist, and the firm's outreach. The firm then interviewed 27 of these applicants and submitted the results to the CEO Search Committee. The Committee proceeded to interview 16 of these candidates via teleconference, and planned to interview a subset of this group face to face. Following the face to face interviews, the Committee planned to present a smaller subset for intensive interviewing by the ICANN Board. The Committee anticipated that the Board would announce its final decision by mid-April.[6] By late March, the pool was narrowed down to six applicants[8] and by the beginning of April, the pool had been narrowed to four, none of which had any hands-on experience with ICANN.[9]

It was announced at ICANN 44 on Friday, June 22nd, that the new CEO would be Fadi Chehade.

ICANN 44 Prague

Mr. Chehadé first introduced himself when he was still the "incoming" CEO at ICANN 44 in Prague. That meeting marked the last conference of outgoing CEO Rod Beckstrom, who officially left the organization a few days later.[10] The ICANN 44 was also addressed by interim CEO Akram Atallah, who mostly promised to steer the organization, focusing on new gTLDs, and prepare it for Mr. Chehadé without creating new disturbances or distractions. Mr. Chehadé stresses that he would assess the needs of ICANN from the outside over the coming months so that he can facilitate genuine consensus within the ICANN community. He promised to manage ICANN Staff with a very decision-driven mindset. He stressed two observations he had already made; the first is that ICANN is an international organization and that it must strive to be more international. The second observation was that all his work will be mute if the organization does not deliver "excellence." At the close of his speech he made 3 pledges, they are:

  1. "I will listen"
  2. "I will be very transparent" ... "super transparent" ... "extra transparent"
  3. "I will make all my decisions for the public interest"[11]

Assuming the CEO Position

ICANN announced on September 14, 2012 that Mr. Chehadé has officially stepped into his role as CEO, which it pointed out was 2 weeks ahead of the deadline of October 1. Along with this announcement came the news that Mr. Chehadé had already made arrangements to restructure the organization in several ways, including who reports directly to him and the creation of new executive positions.

  • Akram Atallah, interim CEO is returning to his role as COO, with expanded responsibilities, which include oversight of Registry and Registrar Services, the new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) program, and security and other important activities.
  • Tarek Kamel, who previously lead the development of ICANN's African strategy as a Senior Advisor to the President, was appointed to the new role of Senior Advisor for Government Affairs, leading all aspects of Government Engagement. He was on the short list of consideration for the ICANN CEO position, which Mr. Chehadé went on to fill. Mr. Kamel will be based in Europe.[12]
  • Sally Costerton, was a new hire and was most recently CEO of Hill & Knowlton Public Relations for Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Her new role at ICANN is Head of Stakeholder Relations, which is a role that will incorporate the communications function. She was also on the shortlist for ICANN CEO. Ms. Costerton will be based in Europe.

All three of these executives are to report directly to Mr. Chehadé. Other executives to report directly to the CEO include: Kurt Pritz, who will assume the role of Chief of Strategy, leaving the role of Senior Vice President; John Jeffrey, General Counsel and Secretary of the ICANN Board; David Olive, Vice President of Policy; Maguy Serad, is to assume the position of VP of Contractual Compliance, being promoted from Senior Director of Contractual Compliance, with her department reporting directly to the CEO as well.[13]

ICANN 45 in Toronto

CEO Chehadé became personally involved in a number of issues at or around ICANN 45. He used the opening ceremony as an hour-long "working" session, wherein he outlined his progress and vision on the biggest issues facing ICANN. He noted that "ICANN cannot continue operating like a start-up", that the organization needed to stop managing defensively, that progress must be seen on long-standing problems such as Whois, and he unveiled a new ICANN online portal, MyICANN.[14] He said in an interview that he would become personally involved in the discussion on the Registrar Accreditation Agreement and the Trademark Clearinghouse.[15]

In an open letter to the community, Chehadé shared a 12-point plan which can be seen here of what he hopes to accomplish between ICANN 45 in Toronto and ICANN 46 in Beijing 2013. Among others issues to be addressed, Chehadé lists the following as top priorities[16]:

  1. "Operational excellence" under his new leadership as ICANN's "highest priority";
  2. ICANN's delivery "on every aspect of the new gTLD program launch next year" through the creation of a new gTLD services department and the implementation of Trademark Clearing House;
  3. A community effort to resolve longstanding issues of the Whois debate;
  4. A plan to "reach consensus on a solid and enforceable Registrar Accreditation Agreement that is fair and balanced."

IGF 2012

Fadi gave an opening speech at the 2012 IGF in Azerbaijan. He reiterated his statement from ICANN 45 that it was "a new season at ICANN"; highlighting his push to make ICANN international through actual engagement, and his new Executive appointments. He noted that ICANN, and his work there, is a way of creating opportunity for education, employment, and innovation for people around the world, especially children.[17]

WCIT 2012

ICANN was officially invited to participate in the ITU's World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) 2012. Some believe that ICANN's participation will help organizations, governments, and internet leaders collaborate in a more transparent matter, in direct opposition to criticisms about the ITU's closed-door policies.[18]

Mr. Chehadé said that he planned to arrive early to collaborate and communicate with attendees. He also laid to rest allegations of an inharmonious relationship between ICANN and the ITU by stating, "There is no war between the ITU and ICANN. There may be confusion, by some members of the community, that believe our roles may be confused; but our roles are clearly separate and well-defined."[19]

Contract Renewed to 2017

In August 2014 the ICANN Board resolved to renew Mr. Chehadé's contract until June 30, 2017, although his contract with ICANN was not set to expire until July 2015. The Board noted that the early renewal signaled their confidence in his leadership. Chehadé received an increase in his base salary from $560,000 to $630,000 and a bonus increase from $240,000 to $270,000. Despite the increase, Chehadé's salary package was still less than previous CEO Rod Beckstrom, who had a base salary of $750,000.[20]

International Outreach & Engagement with Underrepresented Regions

Fadi Chehadé made expanding on previous CEO Rod Beckstrom's work on reaching out to the international world a major priority, which notably entailed requiring new staff hires to speak 2 languages and personal and staff tours to promote ICANN and its New gTLD Program. It seemed through the way he talked about the current level of outreach and engagement and the lack of results that he believed that previous efforts were not substantial enough. He noted in his first speech to an ICANN audience, at ICANN 44 in Prague before he took up the CEO position, that he had already met with the African and Latin American delegations and that they were "yearning" to be reached out, which would be a top priority.[21] The day that he assumed the position of CEO he also appointed Sally Costerton to lead Stakeholder Engagement and Tarek Kamel to act as Senior Adviser to Government Affairs. The promotion of Mr. Kamel, an Egyptian national, was the first time an individual from the developing world had been made an Executive of ICANN. Both these positions are based in ICANN's European Headquarters and report directly to the CEO.[22]

Weeks later, 4 Vice Presidents of Regional Stakeholder Engagement were announced. These positions report directly to Sally Costerton and were mostly internal promotions intended to raise the level of importance for global engagement. The Vice Presidents are: Pierre Dandjinou, Africa; Baher Esmat, Middle East; Veni Markovski, Russia, CIS and Eastern Europe; Savenaca Vocea, Australasia/Pacific Islands.[23]

In October 2012, AFRINIC and ICANN signed an agreement to facilitate the deployment of anycast instances of L Root DNS server, operated by ICANN, in the African region. ICANN, as the operator of the L-Root Server, will work cooperatively with AFRINIC to identify candidate sites within the region of Africa that meet the criteria for the hosting of anycast instances of the L-Root server operated by ICANN. Part of AFRINIC's mission aims to increase the number of DNS root servers instances in the African region as well as its own DNS Anycast platform where AFRINIC hosts its own DNS services but also make it available at no cost for ccTLDs in the region.[24]

In March 2013, CEO Chehadé expressed his desire to raise the number of registrars in Africa from 5 to 25, via personal and business relations with the banking and insurance sectors that would allow the African companies to more easily meet some form of tailored ICANN accreditation. His hope is to accomplish this in just a few months, with something implemented around ICANN 47 in Durban, in July 2013[25]

Mr. Chehadé continued on his global outreach tour and engaged Middle eastern stakeholders at the Arab Multi-Stakeholder Internet Governance meeting in Dubai. The meeting, hosted by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the United Arab Emirates, brought together representatives from several different Internet organizations. Fadi Chehadé noted that he hoped to have a more clear engagement strategy for the Arab World by May, and noted that this goal would only be possible if the many Arab stakeholders involved also came to the table.[26]

Plans to Diminish ICANN presence and ties with U.S.

At ICANN 45 in Toronto, a 3 year plan, entitled "ICANN's New Approach to Africa", was unveiled and presented to the community for comment. The plan was created through a working group convened at the previous ICANN meeting, which involved input from much of the African delegation, AFRINIC, and other important contacts knowledgeable about the region.[27]

In February 2013, CEO Fadi Chehadé announced that ICANN's office in L.A. would diminish in importance while two new "hubs" would be created to fill the gap and provide new means of outreach to ICANN's international constituents. The hubs are to be located in Singapore and Istanbul, and are to act with far more authority and purpose than a stand-alone office; it is clear that many senior staff from the L.A. office will be asked to move, and the CEO himself said he will be based in Singapore once that office is up and running.[28][29] The news was announced during Mr. Chehadé's first comprehensive tour of Asia, with trips to South Korea, China, Japan, and Singapore. He noted that ICANN needed to apologize to Asia, as it had long not been given the attention it deserved within the organization.[30]

During the Munich Conference on new gTLds that was held in October 2013, Mr. Chehadé made a keynote address that focused on his plan to break the ties that the United States government has with ICANN. He stressed that the powerful role the government has over the DNS root zone is not sustainable for the future, but warned that breaking ties could create a governance vacuum that could be cause for concern. He also referenced recent news regarding Internet surveillance by the U.S. government as cause for speeding up the process.[31][32] View the video of Mr. Chehadé's address at the conference here.

Implementation vs. Policy Development

While a longstanding issue within the ICANN community, the difference and use of implementation procedures and policy development began to reach a noticeable head throughout 2012 and into 2013. Strictly speaking, anything that is "ICANN Policy" needs to go through its various supporting organizations and be approved, while implementation refers to matters adopted by the ICANN Board regardless of any consultation to the rest of the community. ICANN is supposed to be driven by bottom-up, consensus policy development, and this often results in the organization making slow progress. Implementation procedures are necessary to accommodate the practical issues related to organizational effectiveness.[33]

Issues that have recently sparked debates over implementation vs. policy development:

  • Special protections were given to the Internaional Olympic Comittee and Red Cross/Red Crescent in 2012 with regards to their marks across all New gTLDs. This action was approved by the ICANN Board despite the fact that the GNSO was still debating the issue though still largely against the special protections.
  • In 2012, the registry agreements for .com and .net were renewed without requirements for a "thick" Whois, despite policy development that was working for such requirements.[34]
  • The current model of the Trademark Clearinghouse and Uniform Rapid Suspension System did not come from the policy that was drafted on trademark issues but rather special groups, including the Implementation Review Team.
  • Further trademark issues appear to be forthcoming via implementation and not policy development after closed-door meetings in late 2012 with business and IP interests within the community.[33] This is known as the "Strawman Solution".[35]

New gTLD Program

At his arrival, Mr. Cheahdé made the success of the New gTLD Program a top priority. His assumption of power at the organization was roundly praised but there was also plenty of critics and concerns. One prominent concern came well into his initial foray into the New gTLD Program, in January 2013, when he met with top representative of registry providers at an ICANN regional meeting. At that time he noted a number of problems and obstacles for the program, including maximum staffing capabilities, the feasibility of programming and coding the necessary systems well an on time, and the frenzied pace they are working at in ICANN. He notably said, "Honestly, if it was up to me, I would delay the whole release of new gTLDs by at least a year," and while he went on to explain that wasn't going to happen, the suggestion itself worried some of the community hoping that ICANN could right its course of consistently missed new gTLD deadlines.[36] This admission was clearly disregarded soon afterward when he set April 23, 2013, as the date when ICANN will be ready to recommend the first TLDs for delegation.[37]

Trademark Protections

Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley and Congressional Representatives Lamar Smith and John Conyers issued an August 7 letter criticizing ICANN's approach to new gTLDs. They criticized ICANN's level of New GTLD outreach, stating that "many members of the public outside the ICANN community are unaware that the New gTLD program is underway" and go on to note that those who are aware are not given adequate time and information to participate. The letter also highlighted demands from IP interests that ICANN systematically offer stronger rights protection mechanisms on the new gTLDs, such as a permanent Trademark Clearinghouse service rather than the existing policy, which only required the Clearinghouse be available the first sixty days after a registry launches.[38]

On September 19, 2012, Chehadé sent a letter in return, where he said explained that the 60-day period was reached through a "multi-year, extensive process with the ICANN community" and therefore would not be in ICANN's power to unilaterally extend. He also noted that the Trademark Clearinghouse is "intended to be a repository for existing legal rights, and not an adjudicator of such rights or creator of new rights. Extending the protections offered through the Trademark Clearinghouse to any form of the name (such as the mark + generic term suggested in your letter) would potentially expand rights beyond those granted under trademark law and put the Clearinghouse in the role of making determinations as to the scope of particular rights."[39]

However, in early November 2012, Chehadé invited a group of business, IP, and noncommercial users, along with registrar and registry stakeholder groups, to discuss Clearinghouse-related issues. The meeting was private and criticized by some as circumventing required policy development processes at ICANN.[40] The so-called Strawman Solution that resulted from this meeting recommended:[41]:

  • Registration: How registration recording and verification are addressed
  1. Agreeing to map out trademark submission and verification components
  2. Developing a new system to offer timely and accurate information on new gTLD launches
  3. Implementing seminars between implementers and various users
  • Sunrise Management: How to use Sunrise data files and offer flexibility for rights holders
  1. Offering model in which Clearinghouse data can be provided securely to rights holders for early sunrise registration
  2. Giving details on the degree of "matching" between a Clearinghouse record and a domain name's Whois data.
  • Claims Management: How new gTLDs registries and registrars will facilitate Clearinghouse records during the registration process
  1. Agreeing to a hybrid decentralized and centralized system for Trademark Claims
  2. Offering trademark claims service for at least the first 60 days of general registration and all new gTLD registries must offer a minimum 30-day sunrise period
  3. Decided not to implement measures to address the potential mining of the Clearinghouse database for purposes not related to rights protection, on the basis that most controls would be ineffective

Strawman "Mistake"

In a meeting with registries and registrars in Amsterdam on January 25, 2013, Mr. Chehadé claimed that the biggest mistake yet of his 4 months as CEO was convening the meetings that led to the Strawman Solution. At that time the proposal was still open for public comments and had not been rescinded, and a complaint by Maria Farrell of the Non-Commercial Users Constituency had been filed with the ICANN Ombudsman. He noted that the speed at which they were addressing issues at ICANN was inevitably leading to mistakes, and that in his case he seems to have admitted to not appreciating the development process to create ICANN policy.[42]

Unilateral Right to Amend

In February 2013, ICANN introduced a revised Registry Accreditation Agreement related to new registry operations for new gTLDs and updating the current agreement. The most controversial aspect of the document was the "Unilateral Right to Amend," which would give the ICANN Board to amend the document via a supermajority (66%) vote. The current agreement defers to the approval of registries representing two-thirds of all registry fees paid to ICANN before they became law. As ICANN COO, Akram Atallah, explained, "Soon there will be 1,300 different registries - it's not going to be like today when everyone can get in a room and decide on the right thing to do. We want a solution where if there is something that ICANN needs to do, there is a mechanism for doing so."[43] The move was decried as a power grab and a shift away from the multistakeholder model by many ICANN constituents, and the Registry Stakeholder Group expectedly reacted very negatively. Mr. Chehadé signaled in a speech to the Association of National Advertisers that he was not going to back off this point,[44] and had noted in a video posted to his blog that this point has the potential to delay the implementation of New gTLDs.[45]

Career History

Chehadé has more than 25 years of experience in founding and leading progressive Internet businesses. He served most recently as the CEO of Vocado (October 2010 - October 2012), a firm providing cloud-based software to the administrations of educational institutions. Prior, he was CEO of CoreObjects Software (April 2009 – August 2010), a leader in new product software development services for both large and growing companies. In his time there, he oversaw the company's growth to more than 400 employees and its acquisition by Symphony Services. From February 2006 until March 2009, Fadi served as the General Manager of IBM's Global Technology Services in the Middle East and North Africa Department, following IBM's acquisition of his company, Viacore Inc. He founded Viacore, a B2B process integration hub, in February 2000. From February 1998 until February 2000, he served as the Founder and CEO of RosettaNet, a non-profit multi-stakeholder company that leads major international corporations including IBM, Microsoft, HP, Nokia, and Oracle, to collaborate on B2B standards. From July 1996 until February 1998, Chehadé served as the Vice President of Ingram Micro. In 1988, he founded Connectica Inc. and served as its CEO for 8 years. He began his career as a Systems Engineer at AT&T's Bell Labs.[46][47]


Chehadé received his M.S. in Engineering Management from Stanford University in 1986 and his B.S. in Computer Science from Polytechnic University in 1985.[47] He speaks English, Arabic, French, and Italian.[48]

Personal Background

Mr. Chehadé was born in Beirut of Egyptian parents who had lived in various parts of the world before they settled in Lebanon. His family is from a Coptic Catholic minority in Egypt, and he identifies as such. In Beirut, he attended a French Catholic school, speaking French at school and Arabic afterward, until at the age of 13 his father decided to send him to Damascus due to violent tensions and the Lebanese civil war. He arrived in the U.S. at the age of 18 without knowing any English; his first job, which he retained for 7 months, was peeling onions. During this time he was also attending school to learn English. Later, his tuition at Stanford was covered by a work-study agreement with his employer, AT&T.[11]



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  32. NewDomains.org
  33. 33.0 33.1 Race Toward New, BNA.comPublished 17 Jan 2013, Retrieved 18 Jan
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  37. Youtube Video, youtube.comPosted and Retrieved 15 Feb 2013
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  40. Trademark Clearinghouse “breakthrough” at private Brussels meeting. Domain Incite. Published 2012 November 8. Retrieved 2012 November 13.
  41. Building a Secure and Reliable Trademark Clearinghouse. ICANN Blog. Published 2012 November 7. Retrieved 2012 November 13.
  42. Industry Man Chehade Admits Strawman Mistake, DomainIncite.comPublished and Retrieved Jan 25 2013
  43. Atallah Responds Industry Anger, News.Dot-nxt.com Retrieved 25 March 2013
  44. Chehade to Play Hard Ball Over Unilateral Right to Ammend, DomainIncite.com Retrieved 25 March 2013
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  46. Fadi Chehadé | President and CEO. ICANN.
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