RealTime IT News

Forman Out as Register.com CEO

Just days after dodging a proxy contest from a group of dissident shareholders, New York-based domain name specialists Register.com is parting ways with chief executive officer Richard Forman.

Forman, who started the company as Forman Interactive in the early days of Silicon Alley, will hold on to his board seat but his resignation from the CEO spot is seen as a major coup for Barington Companies Equity Partners, L.P., the dissident shareholder group that threatened a proxy contest to replace the company's directors and rescind the anti-takeover "shareholder rights plan."

Peter Forman, who co-founded the firm with his brother 1n 1994, will assume the president and CEO position, Register.com announced Monday.

The move comes as no surprise to industry watchers who predicted that senior management changes would accompany the $120 million cash agreement with Barington Companies.

Under Forman, Register.com spent the early part of this year rejecting several buyout offers and sources say the agreement with Barington Companies was a sign that the balance of power had shifted out of Forman's hands.

Register.com spokerperson Stephanie Marks denied talk that Forman was dismissed from the CEO position. "Richard has been considering this change for some time. Now that we've resolve the issue of the proxy fight, he (Forman) and the executive committee felt this is the appropriate time for hm to resign," Marks told internetnews.com.

The removal of Forman from the CEO spot adds to the long list of company executives leaving the number two domain name registrar. Last October, chief operating officer Rajiv Samant was fired after less than two years on the job.

The CEO-switch comes as Register.com is struggling to compete with rival URL registrars offering dirt cheap TLD registrations. While Register.com charges $35 a year to register a .COM, .NET or .ORG domain, competing firms like GoDaddy Software hawk registrations for as low as $8.95/year.

With cheaper alternatives widely available, Register.com has seen its core business -- registrations and renewals -- flatten in recent times.. At the end of the first quarter this year, Register.com registered, transferred and renewed approximately 584,000 domain names, a minor increase over the 520,000 domains handled in the fourth quarter of 2002.

While that represents a quarter-over-quarter improvement, the company is struggling with TLD renewals (approximately 50 percent rate in the first quarter of 2003).

Register.com has more than three million domain names under management and also sells add-on services like hosting and domain name management services SMBs, large corporations, as well as ISPs and telcos.