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February 22, 2016

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The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

Major Management Move at Minds + Machines: Toby Hall Replaces Co-Founder Antony Van Couvering as CEO

Toby Hall
Minds+Machines CEO

Minds + Machines Group Ltd.,  (LSE:MMX), a public company that is one of the major players in the new gTLD space as owners and operators of a variety of new top level domains, has a new CEO. The company announced this morning that Co-Founder Antony Van Couvering was relieved of the CEO role at a Board of Directors meeting Friday (February 19), 2016). 

Toby Hall, who has been serving as the company's Chief Marketing Officer, has, subject to regulatory approvals, accepted an offer to take over as Chief Executive. Hall is to join the Board in that capacity at the first Board meeting after that approval has been received. A press release on the change said, "The Group is currently making the transition from asset gatherer to monetisation of its leading portfolio of top-level domains; the Board believes a change of leadership will assist in this process." In short, the company will focus less on adding more new gTLDs to their portfolio and more on generating revenue from the ones they already have. A key way they intend to do that is to build partnerships with other registrars to sell their TLDs, rather than rely primarily on their own registrar operation as Van Couvering preferred to do. 

Hall said, "We are operating in a sector of significant growth and opportunity. As a portfolio registry player, we are exceptionally 

well placed to reach into markets both geographic and vertical through a strategy of partnership. It is a strategy that will allow us to drive growth while maintaining a tight control on costs.

In the wake of his dismissal, Van Couvering published an insightful article today at Circle ID (succinctly titled I Got Fired) that laid out the variety of strategies that are being employed by the many new gTLD operators. At this very early stage of the game there are a lot of different business models out there and varying opinions as to which is most likely to succeed. That kind of  difference of opinion between himself and the Minds + Machines board led to this parting of the ways.

Van Couvering has been one of the most visible and vocal proponents of new gTLDs since well before the ICANN program began. While his departure from the company he co-founded surprised many, it will be even more surprising if he doesn't soon re-surface in another key role in the new gTLD sector. There are still a lot of laps left in this race and it will be some time before we see which strategies prove to be the winning ones. 

Antony Van Couvering

(Posted February 22, 2016)

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