The Manifest Threat to Nominet’s Reputation & Stability

10th March 2021

Russell Haworth

Russell Haworth
CEO (until March 2021)

Some have claimed that the resolution they have proposed for the upcoming EGM won’t affect Nominet’s stability, or indeed our reputation, which has taken years to build, and will take days to destruct. We believe that the EGM will inevitably cause serious disruption. But let us go into that in a bit more detail and explore the many reasons why. 

Business Continuity Under Threat 

The advocates of the EGM resolution argue that both firing the leadership and reducing the price of domains will not have any serious impact on the organisation. But cutting prices will ultimately lead to sustained under-investment in the registry. Coupled with another demand of the campaigners to disband our DNS cyber capabilities it would wind the clock back 10 years and completely ignore how complex and challenging the internet has become in the intervening decade. Figure 1 below shows the rising complexity of managing the .UK domain namespace given the number of DNS queries and security risks. 

While we have business continuity plans covering a wide array of contingencies and threats, those plans don’t contemplate an immediate, wholesale change of strategy taken without proper preparation or consideration. These actions will put Nominet in stasis for a long time to come. 

Nominet graph showing increased DNS queries complexity of running .UK

Figure 1: Showing increased DNS queries/complexity of running .UK 

Employees Make our Registry Work 

Now let’s consider people and culture. Nominet’s employee engagement scores are higher than the industry average. This means we attract and retain the amazing, diverse and motivated talent we need to run one of the world’s largest domain registries. 

Talent is attracted to Nominet by the exciting challenges, culture and values of the business. We can grow a business, while having a positive impact on society. This ‘profit with a purpose’ goal – where we aim to increase the connectivity, inclusivity and security of the internet is what drives our people. Our values of ownership, integrity and boldness and a culture that’s challenging, collaborative and fun is how all the parts move together to run a reliable registry and grow a world class DNS cyber business. 

If Nominet takes a 10-year step back in time, it immediately becomes a less exciting place to work. Without high technical and business aspirations we will struggle to retain our best people, and with a tarnished reputation we’ll struggle to replace the good people who leave. This means we’ll rely on contractor resource which increases costs and makes it harder to maintain a unified culture. 

Instability Undermines Reputation and Threatens Yet More Instability 

If the EGM resolution passes, our stakeholders in the UK and around the world will see Nominet in a different light. They will naturally question the stability of our business. They will worry about the threat of more destabilising EGM proposalsAnd they will be concerned about Nominet’s ability to continue operating with the quality and level of service that they have come to expect. That could quickly trigger an accelerating spiral of decline. 

Stakeholders in the UK government will inevitably ask questions, too. And if Nominet steers into dangerous, uncharted waters, they will undoubtedly step in. 

An Unnecessary Step 

All of these points add up to enormous dangers to Nominet. The impact of the EGM resolution might not be to burn down the entire house in one go, but it will seriously damage it and, like deep rot, it will set a path to a steady erosion which will get worse as time goes by.  

At the same time, the 7 Point Plan we have launched addresses all of the concerns raised by those advocating for the EGM resolution, making voting ‘yes’ for the resolution entirely unnecessary.   

Stability blog infographic

In closing… 

We strongly believe dialogue is better than destruction. We’re taking concrete steps, and we’re eager for more input from members on these steps to ensure every member who wants to weigh in has a chance to do so – now through the RAC. 

The stakes for Nominetand you as members, couldn’t be higher. Our plan gives stability in the short and long term without unnecessary risk and reputational damage. 

We ask you to vote, as your voice is important. Please vote ‘no’. 

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