Given the choice between drinking lemonade by his Palm Springs pool or joining the rough-and-tumble world of Internet politics, M. Stuart Lynn decided last week on the latter.
But the day after being named president and chief executive of the beleaguered Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees the Net's addressing system, he vowed not to take sides with any of the factions sparring over the direction of the Los Angeles-based group.
In his previous job as de facto chief information officer for the University of California system, Lynn said, his primary role was persuading disparate groups to work together to build cutting-edge computer networks. His role at ICANN will be similar, he said.
"What kind of decisions are going to lead to a better Internet, a more stable Internet, a more usable Internet?" Lynn said. "When people have those kinds of goals in mind, we'll be able to work together."
Lynn will take over from ICANN's founding president and chief executive, Mike Roberts, after the group's next board meeting in Melbourne, Australia, ends March 13. The 63-year-old computer scientist will come out of retirement to lead the nonprofit group for two to three years and pull down a salary of $245,000.
ICANN is facing stiff criticism about the way it selected new suffixes to join .com, .net and .org. Congressional hearings in Washington are set for the coming months.