Some might see Or Lenchner’s journey to the top job at Bright Data as unconventional. In 2015, after using the company’s product a few times, Lenchner sent an email to the then CEO (and co-founder) of Bright Data sharing product feedback and suggestions. Minutes later, he received a reply inviting him for an in-person meeting.
And the rest, as they say, is history – with Lenchner joining the industry-leading public web data collection platform.
“I didn’t have any aspirations to work for a company, but the meeting went so well, and I was so impressed by the innovative path these two founders took, as well as by the huge potential the data domain carries, that I literally sold all my assets the next day and joined the company as product manager.”
Sounds unconventional, particularly when you consider that Lenchner – who is passionate about developing products – has no academic degree.
Lenchner argues however that the way he was recruited, and three years later nominated as CEO, offers a genuine insight into Bright Data’s culture and DNA.
“We are always open to new, genuine feedback and input, no matter where it comes from,” declares Lenchner, who continues to maintain this way of working today. “Back then, in 2015, we were just a few dozen people, but today, we are more than 400 people, and we remain as open and as attuned to feedback as we’ve ever been.”
Now the market leader in public web data collection, Bright Data works with more than 15,000 customers, including the largest industry players from almost every sector – from leading US banks to seven out of 10 leading e-commerce giants, to 88 of the leading 100 universities.
“Even the most reluctant industries have now turned to web data to address the most crucial questions their respective business strategies require,” he says. “This is because everything is on the web, you just need to know how to make sense of it.”
Last year, the company surpassed the US$100m mark in revenue and acquired three companies, including most recently top ecommerce digital analytics provider, Market Beyond – to help launch Bright Insights, which aims to be a game changer in the data industry.
Lenchner says that being profit-focused versus growth-focused is what has kept Bright Data successful and relevant. “We always ask ourselves: are we providing the added value that our customers need? Are we solving all their challenges? Does our data address their toughest, most critical questions? Also, are we future-ready enough? And the answer is ‘yes’.”
Here, we catch up with Or Lenchner to discuss leadership, work culture, and how the company is using data for good.
Tell us about the growth of the data domain
The data domain, and particularly the web data domain, is exploding. Recently, one of our customers told me that web data has become more than just a strategic add-on; they regard it like utilities – water or energy. Businesses today use data to address the most critical questions. They know they are constantly judged in real time and that they often need to make split-second decisions. Web data provides them with the ability to make that all-important call, which can make the difference between winning and winning more. Smart businesses are utilising the explosion of data for their benefit, turning it into further growth and profits.
In your opinion, what defines a good leader?
I believe that being a true leader starts with listening to team members, no matter how junior or senior, and providing them with the freedom to create and manage their own roles and tasks. During the pandemic, it was evident that without such personal autonomy, we would have been less successful. This personal responsibility over your own professional path is key to managing a rapidly growing company.
Listening both to customers and employees is critical too. The tech industry, and especially the data space, follows the split-second rule, meaning we are always advancing toward the next big innovation. If you stop from time to time and listen closely to your market you will learn a lot, and sometimes choose to recalculate your strategy. Yes, it takes courage to change routes, but doing so can often be the best decision.
How important is work culture at Bright Data?
From Bright Data’s early days, we knew that to keep moving fast to address every big and small market need for web data, we needed a culture that was customer-focused – and we needed to remove any obstacles that hinder creativity and innovation. And that’s exactly what we did, and still do today.
Our company DNA focuses on allowing every role to have complete autonomy, empowering everyone to experiment, fail fast and innovate bigger, and to focus on the tasks at hand without being bothered by a million internal alignment calls. Transparent communication plays a huge part in this. Each employee is expected to lead their own role with as much independence as possible, suggest improvements, and even go on calls with customers to better understand their challenges. I think this has always been the secret sauce to our success and is the backbone of our constant innovation.
How as a company do you give back to society?
As a market leader in our domain, we are committed to much more than just doing business – we are committed to really looking at the data domain and utilising its benefits where it matters the most. Launched two years ago, our pro bono program, The Bright Initiative focuses on using data to drive change in the world. Whether providing the tools for essential academic research or supporting value-driven social causes, like fighting human trafficking or helping teenagers exposed to abuse, just listing these important missions truly reflects on the important societal role this program plays.
Today, we have more than 600 partners from across the world, from the 50-plus organisations that are battling climate change to the 250-plus universities tackling issues like diversity inequity in the financial sector.
What are your goals for the next year?
We are growing and expanding our product suite and services. We continue to address our customers' needs with a full data cycle service – we are on our way to doing just that.
Finally, what technology are you most looking forward to using more of?
Obviously, I look at the data domain and I’m inspired by it. The same goes for any technology that visualises data. I’ve been following people who use our Bright Data datasets in the most creative ways, for things like implementing PowerBI on top of the datasets, and I find this hugely inspiring.
• This interview appears in the November issue of Business Chief magazine.