Syntopical » Who We Are

Who We Are

Cliff Guren: A recognized industry leader known for his passion for driving innovation, Cliff Guren founded Syntopical to meld his love for great writing with his fascination with publishing technologies.

Cliff has worked at the intersection of publishing and technology for over 20 years. He is the co-founder of one of San Francisco’s earliest PC user groups. A five year veteran of Apple Computer, he worked on HyperCard, one of the earliest successful interactive multimedia platforms, and managed an interactive publishing unit. He went on to serve as a Director at Asymetrix Corporation, where he participated in the development of another industry-leading interactive platform: Multimedia ToolBook.

In 1993 Cliff founded Quebecor Interactive—a digital publishing division within Quebecor, Inc., then one of the world’s largest commercial printing companies. Quebecor Interactive developed award-winning CD-ROMs and web sites for companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Prentice Hall.

After his five year tenure at Quebecor Interactive Cliff joined Microsoft Corporation as Product Unit Manager for the Encarta Reference Productivity Products group. He managed the teams responsible for Microsoft Small Business Planner, the Encarta World English Dictionary, and Encarta Interactive English Learning.

Following his passion for innovation, Cliff joined the newly formed Microsoft Advanced Reading Technologies team and, in August 2000, helped launch the Microsoft Reader eBook platform. Microsoft Reader used the company’s ClearType font rendering technology and advanced layout algorithms to deliver an on-screen reading experience that (for the first time) rivaled print. As Group Product Manager, Cliff led the ongoing development of Microsoft Reader and the growth of its publisher network.

A serial entrepreneur/intrapreneur, in 2006 Cliff joined Microsoft’s newly formed book-search team as the Senior Director of Publisher Evangelism. Cliff’s evangelism team worked with publishers large and small to build a search index of over 500,000 in-copyright titles.

Following his 10 year career with Microsoft, Cliff joined Firstpaper, a start-up funded by Hearst Corporation. (FirstPaper was rebranded as Skiff.) As Vice President of Publisher Relations and Content Operations, Cliff and his team worked to secure the rights to publisher content and develop the infrastructure required to make digital newspapers, magazines, books, and blogs available for sale to Skiff users. Skiff was acquired by News Corporation in June, 2010.

In early 2011 Cliff joined Bluefire Productions as its VP of Business Development. Bluefire is the highly regarded developer of the free Bluefire Reader apps for iOS, Android, and Windows and the Bluefire white-label platform. Over the course of five years at Bluefire Cliff licensed white-label reading apps to 70 companies around the world, including industry leaders such as EBSCO, HarperCollins, Penguin Australia, Baker & Taylor, and Sony. He also drove the licensing of Adobe Content Server and related technologies to over 90 companies on nearly every continent.

In February, 2016 Cliff left Bluefire to refocus on the development of Synoptical.

Cliff holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University in New York, New York.