But this adult content publisher has one thing Hefner does not. A major legal win against Internet giant Google.
Last week, Zada's Perfect 10 publication won a preliminary injunction against Google for alleged copyright infringement over its use of thumbnail photos of Perfect 10 models.
Champion of copyrights is the latest hat Zada's wearing--pulled from a closet with an assortment as wide-ranging as author, money manager, former university professor and mathematician.
Zada, who authored "Winning Poker Systems" for Prentice-Hall, also has geek blood running deep through his veins.
In addition to a stint at button-down IBM as a research staff member in the early 1970s, he wrote such papers as the "Theoretical efficiency of the Edmonds-Karp algorithm for computing maximal flows."
And then there's his dad, the renowned Lotfi Zadeh, who is considered by many in the technology industry to be the "father of fuzzy logic."
CNET News.com recently spoke to Zada, who formerly went by Norman Zadeh, about his life and his company's entanglement with Google, which these days are increasingly becoming one and the same.
Q: Perfect 10 has won a major round in its copyright fight against Google, which could ultimately affect the way people search for photos and other content online. But few people know the name Norm Zada like they do Hugh Hefner. Who is Norm Zada?
Zada: I was a research staff member for IBM in their main computer science department from 1972 to 1973. I also had teaching jobs at Stanford, Columbia, UCLA and UC Irvine (from 1975 to 1982) that were either in operations research, which is applied math for business, or in the business schools. So, I am basically a very applied mathematician.
After I stopped teaching at UCLA in 1982, I started running financial competitions called the U.S. Trading Championship and the U.S. Investing Championship. Later, I ran an investing competition called Money Manager Verified Ratings. Those contests were carried by Barrons and various other financial magazines and newspapers, and people started asking me who they should invest with and so forth.
I started referring them to various money managers and decided in 1991 to start managing money myself. I've been managing money ever since, with only one losing year, in 2003.
I gave back all my clients' money in 2003 and quit. But I resurrected my money management business in 2004 to make enough money to cover all the ongoing losses in Perfect 10. I've lost over $42 million in Perfect 10 since its inception in 1996. I am still a money manager and use my earnings in money management to finance Perfect 10.
How did you make the transition from university professor to publisher of adult content?
Zada: There are a lot of reasons. I've always been a lover of women, and I've always been very supportive of women. And I felt there was something wrong with what Playboy was doing. They were recommending implants to women that didn't need implants, and I just thought that implants are a very bad thing for women. Women's bodies are beautiful naturally, and they shouldn't feel they have to augment their bodies in order to be OK. So, I thought, let me start an all-natural magazine, which doesn't allow implants. I also thought I could make money doing it and thought it would be an interesting challenge. And I had a friend who had just been turned down by Playboy, and she was very distraught. And I said to myself, what can I do to make her feel better about herself? I said, I guess I'll have to start a magazine and put her in it. That wasn't the main reason, obviously, but it was one of the factors. I wanted something that would be more respectful of women. I thought I could make money doing it, and I wanted to help my friend.
And it's kind of cool when you publish a magazine. It's enabled me to interview some of the people that I would otherwise not have ever been able to interview. I've interviewed Dion DiMucci of Dion and the Belmonts, Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals. We've interviewed Morgan Freeman, Ray Charles, Sugar Ray Leonard, Robin Williams and Sidney Pollack. We've interviewed a tremendous number of wonderful people. We have a wonderful writing crew for Perfect 10, consisting of David Black, who is our editor in chief and former executive producer of "CSI: Miami." Most of the Perfect 10 writers are outstanding.
We have tried real hard to make a wonderful, wonderful publication, and we think we're entitled to benefit from the wonderful film that we've created that nobody else has. The problem is, everyone is infringing it, including large corporations, and benefiting from our hard work.
There have been a lot of people who have not been very sympathetic with Perfect 10, but I think that if they worked really hard to create a business and they had products they were proud of, they would go nuts if people were utilizing their products to make money at their expense. And that's what's happening right now.
And what is your prediction on how the courts will ultimately rule?
Zada: I'm pretty sure we'll win on the direct infringement issue. But the problem is that many of the direct infringers are in places like Russia and China, and there's no way to track them down. As far as indirect or secondary infringement is concerned, it's too easy for people to take advantage of our material without actually copying it themselves.
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