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BulkRegister's Bulk Restructuring: CEO, Others Fired

In a surprise move Tuesday, BulkRegister.com, the fourth largest domain registrar with 6.7 percent of the market as of Dec. 31, 2000, fired Chief Executive Officer Tony Keyes and 23 of its 33 employees.

Robert Judge, a co-founder and member of the board of BulkRegister, said most of the positions were in executive management as well as sales and marketing. Technical and customer support staff were not affected, he said.

"We had grown a little top-heavy. We believe that the domain regsitration market is not growing as fast as it was when we launched. Getting this company to profitability calls for a different course of action," said Judge, who added that BulkRegister customers will not see reduction in service as a result of the restructuring.

Tom Cunningham, chief executive officer of Bulkregister's sister company, web hosting and technology firm Alabanza Inc., has taken over as acting CEO of the domain registrar. A search is on for a permanent CEO.

According to one of the laid off employees, the fired workers were given no notice or severance pay and their medical insurance expires at the end of the month. They are in the process of seeking legal redress, the employee said.

Judge countered that laid-off employees were offered a small severance package, but that it was limited by the firms's financial situation.

"The executive management should have seen this coming. They had all the same numbers the board had. When a company has a ferocious burn, there's just not a lot to go around," he said.

The domain registration sector is in the throes of uncertainty following ICANN's decision last week to allow industry-leading registrar VeriSign to remain whole and hang on to the lucrative .com registry.

The deal appears to have overturned an October 1999 deal with the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the U.S. Department of Commerce which required VeriSign to divest ownership of its registry or registrar businesses. A number of detractors of last week's deal between VeriSign and ICANN said allowing VeriSign to continue to operate the sought-after .com registry and serve as a registrar gives it an unfair advantage.

But aside from industry-wide uncertainty, BulkRegister is suffering from a self-inflicted black eye it received last month after an error during a routine upgrade exposed the information of about 200 of its clients. Credit card information and account passwords were not leaked, but a bug in the system's query function caused customers doing look-ups on their accounts to see other customers' domain records, including account names, e-mail addresses and DNS information.

The downsizing at Bulkregister.com was first reported by ICBTollFreeNews.com.