Letter from Louis
Touton to Mike Roberts
October 18, 1999
Michael M. Roberts
The Board’s action this morning in electing me as Vice-President, Secretary, and General Counsel is at once flattering and sobering. The goal of the ICANN process--to provide private-sector, consensus-based technical coordination for the Internet in the public interest--presents an unprecedented challenge. I enthusiastically look forward to working with the Internet community to meet this challenge and hope I will end up deserving the confidence the Board has shown in me.
ICANN is barely a year old. In that short time, the community has completed the basic design of ICANN’s organization and has come together to achieve consensus on a few of the Internet’s more pressing coordination needs.
All of this has been possible because so many participants have been willing to put aside narrow private interests and work together for the common good. ICANN was founded on Jon Postel’s public-service vision, survived its infancy through philanthropic contributions and extensions of credit, and thrives today based on the volunteer service of hundreds of members of the Internet community at the supporting organizations, on ICANN’s various committees, and at the Board itself.
I firmly believe that the ICANN cause is a good one and deserves the volunteer spirit it has so broadly evoked. ICANN’s resources, however, are severely challenged by the many issues it is addressing, including the need to fashion a permanent cost-recovery mechanism. I therefore wish to waive all salary for my service at ICANN, at least through the end of this first fiscal year (i.e. June 30, 2000).
In waiving my salary, I recognize that public-service organizations cannot expect all their full-time employees to work for nothing, and such a precedent would be misguided. It is appropriate for ICANN to establish compensation levels for its employees that take into account both other employment opportunities and ICANN’s non-profit character. But although the Internet community has been generous in its financial support through ICANN’s startup phase, ICANN should always strive for economy in its operations. The community has a right to expect ICANN to be both light-handed in its coordination activities and light-fingered in its budgetary needs.
ICANN must recognize that the monetary compensation it can offer to its management will be much lower than the remuneration those people can receive in the for-profit sector. To obtain the services of highly qualified management despite these budgetary realities, I believe that ICANN should acknowledge and harness the attractive power of a strong tradition of volunteerism. I hope that by waiving my salary I can do my part to promote that tradition.
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