A word on tone and key choice

5th February 2021

Russell Haworth

Russell Haworth
CEO (until March 2021)

I wanted to share a short note with our members at the close of a busy and eventful week. As you can imagine, this week’s call for an EGM has been something of a crystalising moment. I’ve had some time to reflect, and wanted to share two of those reflections. 

The first is about the nature of our disagreement.  

Nominet was founded at a time when the Internet was a palpable source of hope and optimism, long before it was considered critical national infrastructure, and before the very real challenges all of us now face keeping things running and safe. 

Reflecting on this helped me see what I think might be an important distinction between my view of Nominet’s mission and how some of our critics may see things.  

We try to manage Nominet for the Internet that we have, even as we keep striving for the world where technology continues to deliver on its potential as a force for good.  

As we know, today’s Internet sadly has too many bad actors bent on destruction and equipped with increasingly complex digital weaponry. Managing crucial elements of the UK’s Internet infrastructure requires that we bring a cold realism to the challenge and that we equip ourselves professionally and commercially to succeed. To do so, we must also attract and keep the best talent in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace. Our amazing staff field calls every day from top tech employers and many others, so attracting and keeping the best requires a strategy with ambition and a common purpose. 

Starting next week, we’re going to share a clear vision for Nominet’s next few years – a vision that the Board and I have been working on throughout 2020 and was slated for discussion at this year’s AGM. I hope you’ll see in those plans a strong desire to continue to position Nominet for success, and an approach rooted in a realistic, pragmatic assessment of the complex landscape we are operating in.  

I realise that there are other, more specific concerns. We’ll be addressing as many of those as we can in the coming weeks, too. 

For members considering their own views, I hope you’ll give us a chance to communicate our plans and perspective before firmly making up your mind. 

My second reflection is about the tone of the debate that I hope we can have in the coming weeks. 

In thinking about concerns and motives, I realised how important it is that we all recognise our common desire for Nominet’s success. While we might differ on the best way to achieve that, it’s vital to acknowledge that we have at least one thing bringing us together. 

I’m conscious that there has been a level of dissatisfaction among some members for a long time, indeed, in some cases back to the launch of the second level domain .UK. Perhaps as a result of the length of some of these disagreements, we all may have found ourselves approaching our interactions with the wrong tone. 

In order to make progress, that needs to change. I commit to playing my part to make that happen. Starting now. 

I appreciate that there are many other issues to discuss, and the Board and I intend to address as many as we possibly can. If you have questions or a different view, I hope you’ll let us know. I have no doubt that you will. And I hope all constituencies will be able to engage in a constructive way. 

I look forward to continuing the conversation.