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An Interview with Henry ‘Hal’ Lubsen, Afilias, Inc. CEO: ‘We are the Top Level Domain (TLD) Registry Services and DNS Solutions Experts’


“Our mission is to connect the world with reliable, secure, scalable and globally available technology that makes Internet addresses more accessible and useful.”

Are you interested in owning and controlling your own new generic Top Level Domain (new gTLD)? Or do you currently have a Top-Level Domain and are looking to change your existing registry services provider?

In light of the above-mentioned scenario, we are thrilled to present Afilias Inc.

Afilias primarily provides top-level domain (TLD) registry services worldwide. The company is the ICANN-designated registry operator for about 20 generic TLDs like .info, and acts as a registry service provider for various generic, country code and “dot Brand” TLDs. It also provides managed DNS services to approximately 20 million domain names. In addition, the company offers mobile Web services such as DeviceAtlas, a device intelligence solution.

Afilias was incorporated in 2000 and is headquartered in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

Henry ‘Hal’ Lubsen, Afilias, Inc. CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why was the company set up? How did you select the vertical and decide to be a part of the global platform?

Afilias was formed by a group of 18 major domain name registrars. It was formed to introduce competition to the internet domain registry space as part of ICANN’s mission to boost competition. Domain registries are responsible for maintaining the unique set of names in each top-level domain

(e.g. all names with the .org extension, .info extension, etc.) as well as globally publishing the directory for these names in a way that allows internet users to quickly and reliably reach any site they wish.

ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees the security and stability of the Domain Name System (DNS) in general.

Q. How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.

Afilias began operations with the launch of the .info extension in mid-2001. .info now has about six million registered names, making it one of the most popular addresses in the world. It also holds the record as the most successful ‘new’ extension launched since the domain name system began with .com, .net, .org, .mil, .gov, .edu and .int (plus a two-letter code for each country).

Q. What were the grounds on which you have expanded your company and its offerings over the years?

Following the launch of .info, Afilias’ next big project was the transition of all .org names from the legacy provider to our systems in 2003. Afilias teamed up with ISOC (the Internet Society) to compete in ICANN’s process to run .org and was fortunate to win the rights to operate this prestigious domain. Afilias has been providing technical services in support of .org ever since, helping to build it to over 10 million names.

Q. How well do your employees know their role in contributing to the team’s and company’s success?

The entire life cycle, from recruitment, through onboarding, and continued performance management is focused on giving the employee a thorough understanding of their role, the importance of their contributions, and the impact their work has on their team, other teams, and the organization as a whole.

Q. What causes conflicts between employees in an organization, and how do take precautions against conflicts?

We try to channel conflicts to a constructive resolution. Not all conflicts are necessarily destructive; sometimes they lead to new solutions or a deeper understanding of the organization. We strive to handle conflict in the most constructive way possible.

Q. ‘It is difficult to start a venture. But far more difficult to maintain it’. How would you and your team interpret this saying?

We support this whole heartedly. The key to long-term success is to first understand what works, then formalize it and scale it up. Afilias is much more process and metrics driven now than at the beginning, and that has enabled us to grow confidently.

Q.How does your company contribute to the global IT platform?

Most people think that the Internet ‘‘just works’’. Afilias is one of the little-known companies that make it ‘‘just work’’ 24x7x365. We take our responsibility for the registry technology part very seriously; we make continuous improvements across our operations, and we are proud of our record of continuous uptime and service availability.

Q. Do you have any new products ready to be rolled out into the market?

We have a number of new ideas we are formulating into products that we expect will further enhance the security and stability of the internet elements that we support. Stay tuned!

Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

We have made steady gains growing the company to be closer to our largest competitor (which is now more than 10x our size!). We’ll also be even better at identifying and eliminating cyber-crime in the domain extensions we support.

Leadership: Afilias, Inc.

Henry ‘Hal’ Lubsen: Hal Lubsen is a Co-founder of Afilias and has over 50 years of business experience including over 20years in the Domain Name industry, through executive roles at both Domain Name companies and associations. In 1997, he Co-founded the Registrar Domain Bank, one of the Internet’s first Registrars and one of Afilias’ founding member companies and remained involved in the business until it was sold in 2005. Hal was formerly an Executive Committee member of the Internet Council of Registrars (CORE), a Swiss not-for-profit membership association of Domain Name businesses that was formed in 1997. He has been a director of Afilias since it was founded and has served as its Chief Executive Officer since 2001. Highlights during Hal’s tenure at Afilias include the launch and development of .info and the transition of .org onto the Afilias registry platform.

Jonathan Robinson: Jonathan Robinson is the Executive Chairman, Afilias, Inc.

Huw Spiers: Huw Spiers is the Chief Financial Officer, Afilias, Inc.

Scott Hemphill: Scott Hemphill is the General Counsel, Afilias, Inc.

Ram Mohan: Ram Mohan is Executive VP and Chief Technology Officer, Afilias, Inc.

Roland LaPlante: Roland LaPlante is the Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer, Afilias, Inc.

John Kane: John Kane is the VP, Corporate Services, Afilias, Inc.

Steve Heflin: Steve Heflin is the VP, Sales, Afilias, Inc.

Steven Pack: Steven Pack is VP of Corporate Affairs and Compliance, Afilias, Inc.

Melinda Clem: Melinda Clem is Vice President, Strategy of Afilias, Inc.

Keith Lubsen: Keith Lubsen is Vice President of Business Development of Afilias, Inc.

“Afilias is the world’s largest provider of domain registry services, supporting more than 22 million registrations across 200 different TLDs, 150 of which are new TLDs under contract with ICANN! In fact, Afilias has more new TLD registrations than all other registry services providers combined.”