SIPA Member Profile: Khosrodad Builds Community and Furniture

Amir A. Khosrodad, President, Cranium Softworks, Silver Spring, Maryland

SIPA: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into this business?
KHOSRODAD: My first job out of college was with a small local publisher called AKA publishing that produced a foreign-language weekly dealing with political events in the Middle East. I initially started as a lowly programmer building “green-screen” applications to help manage subscribers but soon got involved with setting up elaborate ways to gather and compile news and information from reporters abroad using dial-up networks.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road.
The one that clearly stands out occurred in 2001 when Hitachi acquired Virtual Logic (the company I was working for at the time) and started breaking it up into smaller pieces. My team and I separated away and started Cranium Softworks that year. My career, as it stands today, was specifically shaped from that event.

In brief, describe your business/company?
Cranium Softworks provides publishers with solutions to profitably deliver their periodicals to subscribers through the Internet. Capabilities include: content management, electronic marketing and e-commerce, subscription management, copyright enforcement and e-Learning features. Soon to be added are tools that enable the same capabilities on mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that have helped you to succeed in business?
The most important—I would say—is to understand that your market is a “community” and you’re part of it. News about how happy your clients are travels fast. News about how unhappy they are travels twice as fast. Your reputation provides the biggest marketing bang for your dollars.

What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing right now?
Our clients buy our software to help them grow and increase profits. Rather than make empty promises, we partner with our clients and tie our revenue to their success. If they don’t make money, neither do we. So we go out of our way to make sure our clients do. It’s a “win-win” for both of us.

Do you see a trend or path in 2010 that you know you have to lock onto?
Three areas.
Search – Everything on the publisher’s website must be open to Google search. The content delivery engine must allow Google to index password-protected pages and then give visitors only a preview. Andrew Madden from Google discussed this at the SIPA conference last June and now it’s becoming a reality.
e-Learning – Your corporate subscribers want the metrics to confirm that they are getting value from the publisher’s website. Metrics of pages viewed by users demonstrate that users are coming to the site, and metrics from quizzes display that the user “gets it.” Online quizzes validate that the user has acquired the knowledge on the site.
Mobile – Just as the publishing industry is starting to understand and manage challenges and opportunities in the age of the Internet, a new wave is about to hit. The onslaught of mobile devices is simply inevitable and it’s going to re-shape how people consume content. When it first came out, Apple sold six million iPads in six weeks. That’s more than just a trend; it is an omen, a glimpse into the future.

What are the key benefits of SIPA membership for you and your team?
Many of our clients come from the SIPA community, and SIPA as an organization provides the infrastructure and the forum for us to know our clients and understand their needs.

Where did you grow up?
Bethesda, Maryland, and I attended Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?
I attended University of Maryland at College Park and received both my Bachelor and Masters degrees from there. As for a particular time that stands out, other than graduation day, the whole six years seems a blur—it went by so fast.

Are you married? Do you have children?
Happily married for 15 years. I have a daughter (Rain, 13) and a son (Amir, 9).

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?
I build furniture in my spare time and have gotten quite good at it over the years. It all started when my wife and I moved into our first house. She kept bringing pictures home, cut out of magazines. She insisted “build it or I will have to buy it…”

What was the last book you read?
Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco. If you liked The DaVinci Code, you will love Foucault’s Pendulum.

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