Q&A With Twistbox's Ler Khodaverdy
Meet Ler Khodaverdy, the longtime executive of Twistbox Entertainment, a global producer and publisher of mobile content and services.
Twistbox, which will be hitting its 12th anniversary next year, operates with exclusive licenses with leading brands and has direct distribution with wireless operators in Europe and Latin America. Khodaverdy has been with Twistbox for 10 of those years.
XBIZ sat down with Khodaverdy, the company’s vice president of operations, to learn more about Twistbox, as well as its crucial relationships with carrier, content, traffic and affiliate partners.
XBIZ: How and when did you get your start in the adult entertainment biz, and what is your role at Twistbox?
Khodaverdy: January will mark my 10-year anniversary. I joined Twistbox as an entry-level quality assurance team member responsible for testing each and every aspect of our products, including technical functionality, content compliance, user experience, billing, etc. Since I dealt directly with our sales, development, product and operations departments, I soaked everything up faster than even I thought I would. By 2007, I was managing a large team, traveling across Europe to meet with partners and looking forward to my next challenge on a daily basis within the company. And since 2012, I have been overseeing all business operations. It’s been a very long and interesting journey to say the least, but I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by an amazing team of colleagues who were, and still are to this day, more friends and family than co-workers.
XBIZ: What exactly does Twistbox offer?
Khodaverdy: Twistbox is a mobile content and service provider, mainly video-on-demand portals. We have a proprietary mobile content distribution platform that was built in-house. We do everything in-house, and that’s something we take great pride in. All of our products and solutions are integrated with direct-carrier billing, which is how it all started in 2004. Twistbox was responsible for launching some of the first adult services with the largest carriers across Europe in their walled-garden portals. We were the “18+” link. But with the launch of the iPhone and smartphones in general, our business took a pretty significant hit as more and more users were able to find free content. So we partnered up with the largest tube site at the time and were their turnkey mobile solution, which got us involved in the advertising side of the business for the first time. These days, Twistbox is still focused on our solutions with one-click carrier billing, but we’re marketing our products and offers ourselves and have made our assets available to anyone with mobile traffic. Competitors are now partners and vice versa. The industry and the company have gone through many changes over the years, but we’re still both here, which is good.
XBIZ: What trends lately have you noticed with online mobile adult consumption, and what are porn fans really looking for these days?
Khodaverdy: It’s quite interesting when you start looking at the data, because it really does depend what country you’re talking about. What is consumed in the U.K. is different than what users are looking for in Portugal, and that’s different from Spain, etc. When we look at search queries on our sites, it’s really just about supply and demand. Users are looking for what they don’t have much access to in their country.
XBIZ: How about trends in the mobile traffic business. What have you noticed?
Khodaverdy: This is the exciting thing for us right now, because everyone is starting to pay attention to mobile traffic like never before, and as a result we’re seeing more opportunities. Publishers, ad networks and anyone else with traffic that wasn’t filtering or targeting mobile traffic are realizing that they’re leaving money on the table; so as a direct advertiser, I’m getting more access to carrier-targeted traffic than ever before. There’s just as much opportunity in lower-tier markets, as there is in your high-profile countries like Germany, Italy, Spain, France, etc. In fact, the lower-tier markets are where we’ve seen most of our growth this past year.
XBIZ: What are the key markets for Twistbox?
Khodaverdy: We have services live in Spain, Portugal, Greece, France, Mexico and Switzerland. But our best performing has been Portugal and Greece. This is due to a long-lasting partnership Twistbox has with the carriers in those markets, which means we have certain billing connections and features that no other partner can offer. But even so, we are seeing more competition in these markets, so we too are expanding into new countries.
XBIZ: What’s coming up for Twistbox as we look forward to 2016?
Khodaverdy: In addition to taking our products into new markets and expanding our connectivity coverage, we are also focused on launching new products outside of VOD and streaming TV channels. With all the features and offers in the cams and dating space, we feel there is a huge opportunity to converge these products with the ease of carrier billing to create a true value-added service for users. One that will make the billing flow super easy and increase user retention.
XBIZ: What’s a typical work day like?
Khodaverdy: No such thing! There are always a million things happening at the same time, all of which are equally important. And being based in Los Angeles while the majority of our business is in Europe means I am working and available during multiple time-zone business hours like most of us in the industry. But one of the most important parts of my day is communicating with our partners. Without them, Twistbox isn’t where it is today. Whether it be our carrier partners, content partners or traffic and affiliate partners, it’s important for me to make sure they’re taken care of before my day actually starts or ends. And, of course, there’s checking stats throughout the day. Clicking refresh … it really is an addiction, but at least a good one!
XBIZ: When not thinking about the biz, what do you like to do?
Khodaverdy: It’s hard to really turn the brain off. But when I do, I’m just spending time with friends and family and my beautiful wife. We love traveling any chance we get since we don’t have kids yet, but the home away from home is Las Vegas since it’s only a 45-minute flight! I also enjoy music, food and just hanging out. And during football season, American football that is … you can find me glued to a TV all day Sunday, as well as Monday and Thursday nights.