PIR’s New CEO Jon Nevett Discusses .ORG, GDPR Challenges, New gTLDs and How It All Applies To NGOs

In December 2018 the Public Interest Registry appointed Jon Nevett as their President and CEO. Today he’s taking part in the Domain Pulse Q&A series. Jon discusses how the GDPR was the biggest thing to hit the domain name industry in 2018, saying it “emerged in 2018 as a highlight, a challenge and an opportunity for the domain industry.” It had a particular impact on .org registrants with many smaller .orgs having fewer staff and resources to deal with the changes, so PIR became an information source to help them comply.

Looking forward to 2019, Jon is looking forward to keeping “.org polished and performing” as well as fostering “.org’s reputation as … safe, secure and trustworthy”. Jon also wants to move away from DUM as the “be-all and end-all” metric to “developing more qualitative measures”. In 2019 PIR will be launching “a new and exciting education and outreach campaign” and he discusses how he sees the role of new gTLDs, particularly from a non-profit point of view.

Domain Pulse: What were the highlights, lowlights and challenges of 2018 in the domain name industry for you?

Jon Nevett: In 2018, compliance with the European GDPR legislation had the greatest impact on our industry, as well as organisations and businesses around the world across a variety of industries. At Public Interest Registry we felt it was important to our users to join the conversation and provide informational resources to many of the organisations on the .org domain that we knew would be impacted by this new, far reaching legislation. Many of the smaller .orgs have fewer staff and resources and so it was important for us to provide guidance and help raise awareness in our community on compliance. GDPR, however, is still a massive global undertaking, and not without its challenges for the domain industry, in particular when it comes to the impacts on WHOIS. So, overall, GDPR emerged in 2018 as a highlight, a challenge and an opportunity for the domain industry.

DP: What are you looking forward to in 2019?

JN: I’m looking forward to digging in at Public Interest Registry through support and growth of .org, which I believe to be the crown jewel of the domain name system. My job as CEO is to keep .org polished and performing for those who rely on it as their home online, which, in turn, will help the people and organisations of the .org community shine. I’m looking forward to witnessing the work of this engaged and impactful community.

And even though I just started, I recognize the great culture that Public Interest Registry has built, around a fun and forward-thinking group of very qualified people. I want to ensure that we continue our mission-driven work with a can-do attitude so that the organisation moves forward into the future and thrives.

DP: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the year ahead?

JN: You’ve likely heard me say this before, but quality of the domain space will continue to be a priority for me. The focus for our team at Public Interest Registry this year will be continuing to foster .org’s reputation as a safe, secure and trustworthy domain extension, and moving away from total domains under management (DUM) as the be-all and end-all of domain metrics. We’re interested in developing more qualitative measures that we believe will help us better evaluate the long-term health and growth of the .org domain.

I’m also looking forward to unveiling a new and exciting education and outreach campaign in 2019 focused on enhancing the online presence of nonprofits globally. Our team has exceptional expertise to lend to our industry and broader non-profit community that is the backbone of .org. We hope to begin a roll out of new education opportunities in Q3 of 2019.

DP: 2019 will mark 5 years since the first new gTLDs came online. How do you view them now, including those operated by PIR?

JN: The new gTLDs can serve as great complements to some of the legacy domain extensions. There’s definitely an opportunity to look at the new domain extensions as collaborative sets and they can be incredibly useful for organisations who want to create differentiated online identities for some of their unique business functions like sustainability or CSR efforts.

We always recommend for organisations to choose a trusted domain extension, like .org, as their primary domain due to the reputational value, reliability and security of the domain. That said, securing an organisation’s name on multiple domain extensions is a smart business practice for online reputation and identity management.

Public Interest Registry continues to support .ngo/.ong registrants as well as three IDNs in Chinese, Hindi and Russian. We are committed to the larger NGO community to ensure their success online. We’re really proud of these extensions and the thousands of nonprofit registrants for whom the domain is vital to perform their work. Public Interest Registry’s mission is to support those who want to make a difference in the world, so while these extensions support a niche sector it is still important work for our team.

DP: Are domain names as relevant now for consumers – business, government and individuals – as they have been in the past?

JN: Yes, I believe domain names continue to hold relevancy. Looking specifically at .org, we see a lot of relevancy when mission- or cause-based organisations can have the opportunity to elaborate on that mission through their .org domain name. The trustworthy reputation that .org has built throughout its history helps registrants get excited about creative domain names and the semantic meaning of .org is irreplaceable for those dedicated to improving our world online.

To learn more about Jon, the new CEO of Public Interest Registry, visit this recent Q&A blog post, also available on Domain Pulse here.

Previous Q&As in this series were with:

If you’d like to participate in this Domain Pulse series with industry figures, please contact David Goldstein at Domain Pulse by email to david[at]goldsteinreport.com.

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