Facebook’s new Director of Corporate Development, Amin Zoufonoun, was hired to “lead Facebook’s fledgling merger and acquisition efforts, as the world’s No. 1 Internet social network shows a growing appetite for deals,” as CNBC puts it. But few know that Zoufonoun, a tough corporate negotiator and strategist, is also an avid admirer and performer of soulful classical (traditional) Persian music. The following is his short biography and comments provided in his interview yesterday with Kodoom.com:
Amin Zoufonoun (Zolfonoon), born 1971 in Tehran, Iran, is a grandson of famed tar maker and player Habib Zoufonoun, and son of Mahmoud Zoufonoun, noted Iranian violinist and a performer of “Golha” classical music series, who composed and performed a musical piece dedicated to Amin when he was born (video below). Amin’s uncle, Maestro Jalal Zolfonoon, is a noted Iranian setar player. Amin’s family immigrated to the United States in 1976. Amin learned to play setar at the age of 11, but he is also a self-taught Kamancheh (Persian bowed string instrument related to rebab) player. In his interview, he says he got interested in playing Kamancheh after he acquired a Kamancheh from the well known Iranian classical music group “Shams Ensemble.”
Amin received his Electrical/Computer Engineering degree, and later J.D. in law, from Santa Clara University in California. After serving for three years as Director of Intellectual Property & Corporate Counsel for ArrayComm LLC, a privately held wireless company, he joined Google in 2003 as Director of Corporate Development. In that role, he was directly involved in a number of key strategic acquisitions and investments such as On2, Grandcentral (Google Voice), Metaweb, and Feedburner. He left Google in March 2011 to join Facebook as Director of Corporate Development. CNBC reported that by hiring Zoufonoun, Facebook is building up its M&A team to increasingly vie with Google, which acquired more than 40 companies in 2010, partly thanks to Zoufonoun.
Amin attributes some of his career and professional success to his multicultural exposure and his family’s love of Persian music and culture. He grew up in a household frequented by legendary Persian musicians like maestros Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Hossein Alizadeh, and legendary poets like Simin Behbenahi. The picture above shows Amin and other young Persian (Iranian-American) musicians in Oakland, CA, March 2011, in a musical event on Persian new year, organized by Oakland East Bay Symphony.
Amin lives in the Northern California bay area with his wife and children. His three brothers, Amir, Ramin and Omid, besides being successful businessmen, are all musicians. Amir plays setar, Ramin plays tar and piano, and Omid (a graduate of Vienna music Conservatory) besides playing guitar is a well known composer of hybrid Iranian-Western style music pieces. The video shown below captures the “Zoufonoun Ensemble” (Amin and his three brothers led by Mahmoud Zoufonoun, Amin’s father) performing in October 2003 at the University of Minnesota, one of Mahmoud Zoufonoun’s compositions in the Dastgah (mode) of Mahour, entitled, “Gol o Zari” (lyrics by the sufi poet, Hafez).
Amin notes while his musical influence came from his father, but without support and multi-tasking of his mother and wife, he “could not accomplish anything.” While Amin enjoys music by contemporary Persian musicians, he says his favorite performers are Persian musicians from Iran’s old classical era, such as Banan and Roohollah Khaleghi. Amin is proud of his Persian heritage and also his new employer Facebook, which he says “has connected peoples and nations and cultures like never before.” Amin says he is impressed with the technical design and content of kodoom.com. He is a long time friend and former co-worker of Salar Kamangar, Google’s Executive in charge of YouTube. Amin is also related to famed Iranian natural nutritionist Dr. Mohammad Abolfazli.