Ex-auDA Chair Responds

The article “Does Chaos Reign At auDA?” published on Domainer two days ago has received some interesting feedback.

None more so than yesterday morning when I took a call from the ex-Chair of auDA Chris Leptos who had obviously read the article. He wanted to set the record straight on one matter I had referred to in my article. It was not an “off the record discussion”.

Now I have absolutely no love for the man. In my opinion and experience, he thrives on being an autocratic corporate warrior with little regard for those he considers inferior (for whatever reasons). He plays the “game” hard, and takes no prisoners.

That said, this was the essence of our conversation:

  • He said that most of the things I suggested he could not comment on (due to Boardroom confidentiality);
  • But he thought he should tell me factually one issue – he did not get a payout; and it’s not appropriate for Directors to get a payout;
  • When he resigned – “for whatever reason” – there was no cash or non-cash contribution sought or offered;
  • I then said that to the outside observer looking in, it does all seem very strange. The Minutes hint at something, but you can’t ascertain any facts.
  • He said that “it is very strange; and there are issues there; but I just can’t talk about it. And I never would. But you know, more strength to your arm – keep going!”.

My Summation / Opinion

Based on what I consider fairly reputable inside information, it appears to me that the simmering stoush between Leptos and Cameron Boardman (who was CEO at the time) came to a head at the Board Meeting on Monday 17th June 2019 .

As is his way, Leptos raised certain historic issues about Boardman (these had been in his locker for some time, and many of the Directors were aware of them). A majority of Directors (not the Independents) sided with Boardman, and Leptos immediately exited the building, and resigned by email later that day. Erhan Karabardak took control of the rest of the meeting.

It seems obvious to me that “damage control” was then the order of business over the next couple of weeks. Boardman had to go, but he played hard-ball according to my sources. He went on “gardening leave” (again), and a settlement was reached. The auDA Board then “reluctantly” accepted his resignation.

If my summary is wrong or incorrect in any way, I invite any person (or auDA) to correct the record. I also again invite auDA to formally respond to the questions raised in the original article.

Ned O’Meara – 28th

13 thoughts on “Ex-auDA Chair Responds

  • Avatar
    August 28, 2019 at 8:29 am
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    “But he thought he should tell me factually one issue – he did not get a payout; and it’s not appropriate for Directors to get a payout;”

    In my opinion that is a fairly obvious conclusion. He is a man of wealth and taste so why would be bother with some trifling payout?

    Different situation for the CEO and others.

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    • Neddy
      August 28, 2019 at 8:54 am
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      “Different situation for the CEO and others”.

      Are you suggesting that they have no wealth or taste? 😉

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  • Avatar
    August 28, 2019 at 9:00 am
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    This is what I believe:

    1. Boardman got the job via his mates. It appears the whole process was a sham and waste of money and time for other candidates strung along
    https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/au_domain_administration_ltd_aud

    2. Boardman was in fact an auDA voting demand class member personally and via his company BCB Consulting prior to getting the CEO job.

    3. Boardmans contract expired in July 2019. The auDA Board was not going to renew it. He should not have received any payout.

    4. Boardman previously went on leave when the board wanted to remove him. The sum discussed was apparently agreed at over $1 million for him to go, in the end the board was told by outside advice they could not pay him so much. They came back with an offer of $800,000 which he refused.. he then stuck it out.

    5. Boardman was paid over $400,000 per year plus super, plus bonuses plus expenses. This is way above market rates for a NFP or role managing a domain name namespace administration.

    This is NOT how a Not For Profit should be run and not the .au domain name registrant Consumer money they should be wasting.

    The whole recruitment process of the CEO role and way they give out auDA money to mates, consultants, buying support is a sham at auDA. It is disgusting and should be fully investigated.

    DoCA should have closed them down and gone to Expressions Of Interest. Nothing would have been lost by an EOI but a lot could have been gained

    DoCA have failed https://www.communications.gov.au/have-your-say/review-australias-au-domain-management

    The current manager of this Fiasco for DoCA is Vicki Middleton https://www.directory.gov.au/people/vicki-middleton

    Richard Bullock https://www.directory.gov.au/people/richard-bullock has jumped ship also to another role away at ACMA from the auDA mess he was in charge of fixing and completely failed to fix or oversee properly.

    The buck should have stopped with Chris Leptos for this very expensive mess at auDA. His direct personal dirty attacks on people should be a warning to other organisations.

    Does Chris Leptos have the guts to share his letters he said he personally sent out relating to the stacking of members in 2018? He stated in a CMWG meeting he wrote to selected parties to join auDA but he refused to share this with the CMWG when asked for it.
    https://www.domainpulse.com/2018/06/18/auda-stacks-membership-no-accountability/
    https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/auda_membership_irregularities

    The perception remains to many that Leptos and Boardman stacked 7 people from the old CMWG onto the Nominations Committee / Governing Members… Do those people still support what Leptos and Boardman was peddling and the chaos they created?

    Leptos also pushed to pay himself more while the Chair so he was never really acting with the true intentions of this NFP I think. https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/auda_membership_irregularities

    Why did Leptos push to get paid 300% more than the CIRA Chair when the CIRA also run the wholesale Registry with greater responsibilities?

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    • Avatar
      August 28, 2019 at 5:04 pm
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      Is there an ombudsman to investigate domain space issues as such? … Or, when this has a huge impact on domain registrars, sellers, buyers and investors from lack of clarity for their understanding re what to price, buy, sell or hold … For those many with so much invested, all this indecisive and questionable leadership must certainly arrive much anxiety for many hard working honest people? … Could it become another class action for Maurice Blackburn? Hmmmm?

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      • Avatar
        August 28, 2019 at 6:20 pm
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        Domainers are never going to fund a class action (let alone win). Best thing anyone can do is “walk”. Don’t put money into that space.

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        • Avatar
          August 28, 2019 at 6:44 pm
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          Litigation Lenders fund Class Actions and they usually win.

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  • Scott.L
    August 28, 2019 at 11:42 am
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    Government Observer Richard Bullock left the meeting at 12:45. An in-camera session with Directors and the Chair was held between 1.00pm – 2.50pm The meeting resumed at 2.50pm. The CEO and Company Secretary re-joined the meeting at this time. It was noted the Chair, Chris Leptos, left the meeting at this time. The Board had RESOLVED for Erhan Karabardak, to be appointed as Acting Chair.

    Again, the Government Observer is missing from another crucial outcome, just as He was missing when the Board decided to approve over 1000 foreign Registrar employees as members for two weeks to pass critical reforms. It is interesting, that the guy who wrote the Government review is also gone, especially well timed, now Leptos and Boardman are also Gone!

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  • Avatar
    August 28, 2019 at 11:49 am
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    “There are issues there, but I just can’t talk about it.”

    Who will talk about it then? Stakeholders surely deserve the truth.

    Jeff

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  • Avatar
    August 28, 2019 at 7:31 pm
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    Cameron Boardman and His Consulting Company became auDA Demand Class members in 2012 just when Erhan Karabardak was campaigning for a seat the Big table, Erhan was successful in his appointment to the auDA Board, after which Cameron and his company dropped off as Members. Fast track 4 years, and long-time friends meet again in 2016 when Cameron is interviewed at the RACV club for the Job of auDA CEO; in this meeting, auDA Director Erhan Karabardak advised that (he) knew of Cameron from his days in the Victorian Parliament and attested to his character and professionalism. Indeed, that was put to the test when questions about his qualifications’ were raised and never confirmed; almost as if, concealed by the Board? 

    https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/cameron_boardman_llm_la_trobe_au

    https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/cameron_boardman_mba_monash_auda

    https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/auda_ceo_blair_cameron_boardman

     

    Perhaps, Leptos played a trump card and lost? Maybe, Boardman gaslit the board and pulled out his joker card qualifications from a cereal box? Presto, now pay up! Whatever did happen must have happened as planned, and if not planned, wow, what a lesson learned. Bravo!

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  • Avatar
    August 29, 2019 at 5:58 am
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    Seems like the only people who don’t think auDA is a basket case are the current directors.

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  • Tim
    August 29, 2019 at 8:57 am
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    Talk all you like, write to gov etc etc but nothing will change whilst erhan is on the board .

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    • Scott.L
      August 29, 2019 at 12:22 pm
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      He’s been there 7 years, along with Joe Manariti and that multi-class flipper Grant Wiltshire. I doubt the government will appoint any current director to the new board, especially those worn out old brooms responsible for the government intervention, which deemed them not-fit-for-purpose managers, agreeable to all those bad decisions and costly consultations, all of which brought the namespace into disrepute.

      Most of those directors are non-elected or entered through default, and All of them enjoy longevity because in my opinion they cowardly removed the members ability to get rid of them. I could almost guarantee that none of those directors would remain if member powers were restored.

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  • Avatar
    September 1, 2019 at 9:12 pm
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    Excellent summary Ned – I suspect you are right on the money.

    The last four years at auDA have been a disaster that was started by people who wanted revenge on the organisation and were envious of its success. The movement then attracted others who had been on the outer in the past. I expect considerable joy has been derived from “taking control” but I doubt there has ever been a moment of selflessness or genuine support for the ideal of running .au “for the benefit of the Australian Internet community”.

    Never forget that Karabardak had come off second best to Disspain, notably as lawyer for Nick Bolton years ago. When others such as Manariti, Deck and Grant Wiltshire (what class DOES he represent?) jumped on board, Karabardak suddenly had the numbers to topple the status quo.

    Karabardak and co then blatantly selected an unsuited and aggressive mate in Boardman as CEO and another ally in Leptos as Chair. What as shame that both egos wouldnt fit in the same room.

    Boardman and Leptos were only a part of the disaster at auDA who came after and left before the real culprits. The current Board must be held accountable for all of their decisions (including backing Boardman only weeks ago) and must go. A more noble leadership group would have already done so.

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