Anyone who has spent time in Las Vegas can understand the thrill of casino life, a Mecca devoted to the big pay-out is almost intrinsically linked to the very notion of what America means; the idea that you start with very little to then explode stratospherically with riches is what could be described as ‘living the dream.’ And it’s a great notion – egalitarian, open to skill and chance – everything is equal on the playing field. The world of gaming is not dissimilar to that of business in general, or life for that matter – good ideas tend to endure, and those who have the ingenuity and foresight (along with a pinch of luck) will continue to thrive.
It’s also no surprise that gaming has had to move with the times, particularly as computers and the internet have become the portal of choice – we no longer need to go to Vegas to experience the buzz of Roulette, Blackjack or Slots – it is available from home or within our own communities (the free drinks and the visual splendor of many retirees and their sea of blue rinse might be missing, however). It has taken time to develop, but now gaming in all of its manifestations is big, big business (Zynga’s Texas Hold ‘Em Poker page is the most popular page on Facebook, and the gaming industry online and off creates billions yearly) and if you take a minute to see how good the graphics, sound and feel of the modern experience is, you understand why. This paradigm shift didn’t happen by magic, it took some very bright entrepreneurs to see where people were headed and then create the platform to take them there.
One of the leading lights and forerunners of this evolving technological and cultural medium is a gentleman by the name of Alan Azizollahoff, as creatively diverse a businessman as you can imagine, and a good example of modern entrepreneurialism; a businessman that has learned to exist and thrive with an ability to rapidly change and adapt to markets, progressive ideas and investments.
Born in South Africa and educated in Israel, Azizollahoff first came to prominence after receiving an engineering degree and then investing in the mid 1980’s in a humble bingo hall in Peru. Something so simple on paper, must have flicked a switch of inspiration for Azizollahof because that was just the beginning of what was to become a veritable gaming empire in South America. By 1996, Azizollahof had co-founded Heal Technology, a developmental arm dedicated to bringing electronic Roulette, Craps, Bingo and Slots to a new generation of gaming fans – machines that brought the thrill of casino classics with a new modern paradigm, and to locations like shopping centers, restaurants and other local areas; his portfolio can now boast of over 50 casino properties in Latin America and his Jade Water Group had sales in 2008 of over $80m.
His development and growth weren’t isolated to the world of business, however. Throughout Azizollahof’s successful ascent, he has always been devoted, in equal measure, to philanthropic pursuits. Years before Bill Gates and Warren Buffett made business headlines for their charitable enterprises, before it became ‘trendy to care’ (which is one trend that can’t be disparaged), Azizollahof was involved in helping projects dear to his heart. Currently residing in Miami, Florida, he has found much to keep him busy and many local causes to champion: a proud supporter of his Jewish roots, he has devoted his time, energy and finance to The Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Mount Sinai Medical Center (world renowned facility treating more than 60,000 inpatients a year) and the Willie and Celia Trump Synagogue.
All of the aforementioned charities are community-based and local, but Alan Azizollahof also contributes to an important foundation in Israel, The Tiferet Shlomo Orphan Home – a home for homeless and orphaned children that aims not only to shelter and protect, but crucially, to provide longer term vocational opportunities for social betterment; a way to see that the quality of our connected whole must be nurtured and invested in; and it starts with reaching out to the communities we value.
Like many of his successful business contemporaries, Azizollahof has the ability to grow in his chosen field by looking ahead and seeing where the future of business might lie. Diverse investments and a keen, prescient eye have kept this businessman from stagnating where many others would have. Moving forward individually, and still helping collectively, is a model which the younger generation of CEO’s should adhere to – the Zuckerberg’s of Facebook, and ‘Twitter revolutionaries’ need to develop the ability to adapt and see what may not be presently in front of them; and without love, social conscience and philanthropy, the world of business would have a much more hollow ring.