A month ago ICANN and VeriSign (VRSN) went public with the results of a year of secret negotiations, proposing to let VeriSign, the onetime monopoly registrar of domain names, keep control of the lucrative dot-com database until at least 2007. The press was all over the story then and followed the ensuing month's controversy and outcry. Yesterday, when ICANN's board voted to finalize the deal with only cosmetic changes, many media outlets ran only a brief notice or a few paragraphs of wire copy, and Media Grok had to look elsewhere for cogent analysis.
Good Morning Silicon Valley adopted a sharp tone in coverage yesterday, calling ICANN's decision process a "secret, open and transparent board meeting." Upside ran Reuters copy that quoted a Bear Stearns analyst telling just how sweet the deal is for VeriSign and its stockholders: "As long as they (VeriSign) don't do anything really awful in terms of running .com, it's basically self-renewing."
Fox MarketWire's reporter got an ICANN lawyer to admit that one of the last-minute adjustments to the contract, adopted to placate critics, might turn out to be toothless. VeriSign agreed to spend $200 million on research and improvements in its database. But Fox reported that "ICANN lawyer Joe Sims acknowledged that the organization has no way to ensure that the company spends the money or wouldn't have spent it anyway."
Business 2.0's Elizabeth Hurt pulled some juicy quotes from dissenting ICANN board member Karl Auerbach, including this one: "This contract throws two of the largest domains (.org and .net) to the wind. They are playing with live ammunition." Newsbytes also quoted Auerbach: "This was not a win for the Internet community. This was a win for some business interests, VeriSign in particular."
The Register's Thomas C Greene commented on the final hurdle that VeriSign must overcome before its contract becomes final: a review by the U.S. Commerce Department. "No one seriously expects that process to involve more than a wink and a rubber stamp," Greene wrote.
ICANN Approves VeriSign Deal in Secret, Open and Transparent, Board Meeting
Good Morning Silicon Valley
ICANN Board Approves VeriSign Deal in Rushed Meeting
VeriSign Keeps Dot-Com Domain (Reuters)
ICANN Approves Deal to Give VeriSign Longer Rights to Dot-Com
Fox Market Wire
ICANN Approves VeriSign Agreement
ICANN Board Member Blasts VeriSign Decision
ICANN Approves VeriSign's Dot-Com Monopoly