Looking back, looking ahead

It’s been an interesting day, to say the least. I’m very excited to announce that iranian.com has entered a new phase with the official handover of our former investors’ shares to the new. We had a phone conference on Skype and went over the last details.

All I did basically was listen with mixed emotions — feeling good about the wide-open possibilities and at the same time nostalgic about the past.

It’s been more than four years since iranian.com became a private company with several Iranian-American and American investors bringing in about $120,000 to modernize the site. This included installing a content management system, implementing a new design and integrating some 12 years of content. It was a giant step forward. The most important was making the site more interactive with the introduction of blogs and comments.

With the formation of Iranian LLC, we became one of the handful of the biggest Iranian websites to become a formal company without the support of any government or institution. It allowed us to remain completely independent from any outside influence, essential for a free and open forum.

During this period, the company made enough money from ads, events and a one-time fund-raising campaign to cover current expenses but never enough to invest in major upgrades. And investors certainly never gained a profit. We were running out of options and falling behind other sites in offering new and better tools to our visitors while burdened with a huge debt to our investors.

About a year ago I began discussing the possibility of a partnership with a friend who had expressed interest in iranian.com on a number of occasions in the past. Over the years I’ve developed great respect for him as I watched him become one of the most successful Iranian-Americans on the internet. He’s best known as the founder of IranianPersonals.com, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with, but he’s also been a major player in several other internet sites and projects. A few months ago he started negotiations with iranian.com investors and an agreement was finally worked out.

So as of today I’m officially working with new partners. There are a lot of unknowns about the future but all that means is that we are open to any changes necessary to make iranian.com realize it’s full potential. I’m confident that it will only become better, with better interactivity, more user-friendlyness, and hopefully some social networking tools. When will you start seeing the changes? I’m guessing over the next three to six months. Your input is essential. Leave comments here and tell us what you would like to see.

Will the site become more financially successful? I hope so. But that’s not my area of expertise. I’m a journalist turned publisher of sorts. All I know is content. I don’t understand money, business or finance. I did not read the contract I signed with the outgoing investors and didn’t read more than a page of the new. Not very smart, nevertheless I’ve relied completely on trust. Show me a ten-page contract full of legal terms and my mind goes completely blank! I’m confident I’m going to be working with a good, smart, capable team and that’s enough for me.

As much as I’m excited about the future, I’m sad to say goodbye to my old team who have been incredibly supportive, hard-working and full of good faith. I’m particularly grateful to my dear friend Kayvan who had the vision to turn iranian.com into a company and brought a group of investors who put their faith in me and iranian.com. He worked his butt off without earning a dime, especially in the past year as the sole manager of the company. My admiration for his honesty and professionalism increased tremendously. The man is as solid as they come with a heart of gold.

And I owe a big thank you to Wayne who acted as manager for the first two plus years, also without a salary or any financial gain. I learned a lot (although not nearly enough) from his efficient no non-sense style, great organizational skills and sharp business sense. We all loved his great sense of humor too, especially in the most unexpected moments of our serious weekly meetings on Skype!

Finally, my hats off to Foaad who did a tremendous job not only in implementing and maintaining iranian.com’s current design but more so for caring so much about everything that went on here with great sincerity. In many ways this site has been his baby too and I know he will miss being behind the scenes. I surely will miss him and I hope I can always turn to him for advice and inspiration.

I am well aware that I share much of the blame for the fact that iranian.com did not become the financial success investors had hoped. After all, most of the ideas about how the site should be organized and maintained were mine and everyone put their trust in me. But I hope they can feel good about their part in building this wonderful, vibrant community that has made a significant contribution to the virtual Iranian civil society, if not the actual.

It’s now time to build the future on lessons learned…

Enough talk! Let’s do it!

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