Or Lenchner: 5 Lessons I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO of Luminati
Promote from within. Even if there’s a professional gap to bridge, there is great value in promoting people from inside — especially if they already align with your DNA and feel a connection to the organization. They will surely work hard to drive the organization to even greater success.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Or Lenchner. Ever since his appointment as Luminati CEO, Or has continued to expand the company’s market base, as a data collection operator, dedicated to maintaining the openness, transparency and integrity of the online ecosystem.
Among Luminati’s 10,000+ customers, you will find Fortune 500 companies, major e-commerce firms and sites, prominent travel companies, ad agencies, security firms, financial services, government offices and more.
Prior to his career at Luminati, Lenchner founded and managed several web-based businesses, developing digital assets and online marketing programs. Joining Luminati as head of product development, Lenchner’s career and evolvement at the company has been driven by his firm belief in a transparent, ethical by design web-environment benefiting both, enterprises/businesses and consumers.
Luminati Networks’ market leadership in the data collection sector was recently recognized by several organizations including research firms as well as universities and academic institutes.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
The development of new technology has always excited me. It may be a cliché, but I have always been interested in pioneering technology, and this interest has led me from the beginning of my career. That and surfing, which I’ve been passionate about since childhood. I found out early on that I could not become a professional surfer, so for me, technology was the only other option.
Before I joined the team at Luminati Networks, I founded and built my own companies that focused on digital marketing. Once I met the Luminati founders, it was clear to me that I wanted to join the team and help build the company. It’s been more than four years since I joined as the head of the product development team. Product development is very close to my heart, and I’m still very much involved in it even now as CEO.
I was appointed CEO a little over 18 months ago, and it’s coincided with increasingly exciting times in the data collection domain. Alongside the ever-growing market demand, there are multiple challenges that we’re working to address.
At Luminati, we take pride in our ethical code and embrace the challenge of moving forward quickly, while still practicing and keeping our ethical code intact. This is something I’ve really tried to prioritize as CEO, educating our teams as well as promoting ethical conduct across the market.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
As CEO, my first priority is to set in motion things that are beneficial for the company, not only in the present but also for future growth. Early on I encountered a significant challenge, which led me to believe that I was acting for the benefit of the company even though the advice I was receiving at the time opposed my actions. I later found out that those who advised me were spot on, and I was wrong and had to deal with the consequences.
Now, I make sure I carefully calculate every move, listen to any advice and make a decision based on all inputs available. In the technology field, there is sometimes a need to make quick significant decisions and moving fast is a required goal. I’ve realized that it’s more important, however, to base decisions on clear, accurate data or intelligence. This has become a part of our company DNA, and the ultimate product we deliver to our customers must be precise, relevant real-time data. Otherwise, our customers would never use us.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
I’m a great believer in Luminati’s DNA, which is built around transparency and focuses on achieving success for our customers. It’s so important when you join a company that you personally align with its ethics and culture, which is another reason why it is such a good fit for me. I could not have worked in a company I did not believe in its DNA. This is a critical point for me.
At Luminati, you get extensive exposure to a vast number of global customers as well as multiple advanced data collection use-cases. We help over 10,000 customers worldwide from start-ups to SMEs to Fortune 500 companies and we enable data research and collection in a variety of industry domains, including retail.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”?
- You may be a great leader and an even greater executor, but you will not be successful if you do everything on your own. You need to start building an excellent team right away. You may invest time and effort, but you will be grateful later on.
- Remain focused always and don’t be afraid of bold ideas. It’s okay to have brilliant ideas and to let some of them go, as long as this is based on a strategic decision and not as a result of hecticness or a disoriented business.
- Let go of the weaker links — the sooner the better. Yes, sometimes it’s very painful to do, but it will benefit the organization for the long run.
- Communicate. It may take away valuable time, but if your team cannot understand the rationale behind it all, they probably will not be as successful as they could be. Invest in it.
- Promote from within. Even if there’s a professional gap to bridge, there is great value in promoting people from inside — especially if they already align with your DNA and feel a connection to the organization. They will surely work hard to drive the organization to even greater success.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
It’s the same as I tell myself. It is very important to work in a company and business with which you have a personal connection. You feel the commitment and identify with its goals and DNA. This is what worked for me. It was clear to me from the very beginning that I wanted to be part of Luminati. The sheer belief in bringing back transparency to the world of the internet, enabling open, fair competition, has really made that connection for me.
In addition, I would say that maintaining your regular life, family life and hobbies are just as important. I make sure to surf as much as possible, spend as much time as I can with my family and follow my personal interests. Yes, succeeding at your job is vital but it’s just as important to live a satisfying life. I think it makes us all better professionals.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Ofer Vilenski and Derry Shribman, the founders of Luminati, are easily the ones who helped me succeed. It may be not the most surprising answer, but I’m immensely grateful for their vote of confidence.
From the first time I met these two, it was clear to me that I needed to work closely with them. I owned a company back then and decided after only one meeting to join Luminati. I sold my company to my partners and took this gamble which proved to be the best professional choice I’ve made to date. We may be known for our very direct, very candid sort of manner, but alongside that comes great empowerment and a huge amount of knowledge that one can leverage from.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
Professionally, I think our mission of bringing back web-transparency to the business world is still very much an ongoing mission. I personally believe that openness brings open competition and open competition will always benefit consumers. I also know that with collecting data at scale and operating the largest network in the world, brings great responsibility and we take multiple measures to protect our customers and peers and ensure their data is safe and secure. We implement an ethical code to ensure that we comply with and even surpass regulations. I want to keep doing that since data has become now more essential than ever to the success of every business. I believe the need for data will only grow. During 2019, in Luminati alone, we’ve seen a 186% growth in the demand for data (in comparison to 2018). Data, after all, drive innovation forward.
On the personal side of things, I would like to disseminate our expertise, as much as possible, to those who are launching their careers in the data collection domain. There are many important lessons I’ve learned as a CEO that are basic to any data related operation, and I want to make sure that I pass this knowledge on to the future professional generation. This is why we work closely with universities and research institutes, and I personally travel to lecture.
I hope to continue doing this and enhance this activity which is so important to me personally.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
Ultimately, I hope our work at Luminati will lead to a more transparent web for all. As a professional, I always preach for openness and this leads in every step I take. Accurate data is the lifeblood of modern companies, as it’s very difficult to make informed business decisions without access to it. We’re striving to set a standard for unobscured data access across the web, while still focusing on and maintaining a strict ethical standard.
Competition thrives in transparency and through healthy competition the overall market benefits. When the web is transparent, companies are able to innovate based on a full picture of the available data. Customers also benefit from having better product options spurred by the increased competition. If Luminati helps bring about this innovation and competitiveness by making the internet more transparent, that would be a great legacy to have.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
Similar to my previous answer, I’d aim to start a movement that bolsters transparency and open data, ensuring regulation that allows just that. Misleading and false data currently run rampant on the web, and ultimately hurt customers and the overall market. The more awareness about open data and web transparency that exists, the more beneficial it will be for everyone.
Just imagine a world with no access to data i.e. no transparency. Pricing and consumer offers will probably reach new heights. Online advertising campaigns will be constantly hacked, causing a great deal of revenue loss and copyright infringement will become much more common.
It would be great to educate more people about the need for more transparency across all sectors and inspire them to shift their support to businesses that support more open and transparent practices.
Thank you for all of these great insights!