Speaker Spotlight: Or Offer

Or Offer is the co-founder and CEO of SimilarWeb, and will be speaking at day 2 of Turing 2015: Billion Dollar Scale-Ups. Or started SimilarWeb in 2009 as an analytics and data mining product for websites and apps. The company has grown to become the ultimate market intelligence platform, scaling rapidly from an initial development team to company with 180 members of staff.

How do you retain company culture while scaling a team?  

That is one of the biggest challenges facing our team. We grew from 60 to 180 employees over the last 12 months, and thanks to our amazing HR team I feel like the culture within the company has kept pace.

We spend significant effort and resources on encouraging employee-led activities so that the company culture grows organically from within. Some of our best rock star recruits come from employee recommendations. We have built a recruitment program that rewards friends bringing friends with prizes like iPhones and secret trips abroad.

Happy hour at SimilarWeb is led each week by different teams, from pub quizzes to TED style talks. These gatherings encourage social interaction and personal engagement. Then there’s our annual company trip, which usually involves a cool destination plus fun, food, and pampering, so we can have a good time together as a team outside of the office. 

How do you keep the company from becoming "political" as business functions expand? 

We focus on the objectives. We utilize the OKR system to help each team and unit understand how they are contributing to the greater goals. By breaking down our objectives into smaller and smaller tasks we can keep teams small and specialized to get the job done more effectively. This tends to eliminate a lot of the potential for petty office politics.

How do you help people to scale? i.e. from being a manager of a few people to managing many?

We do this by putting in place the infrastructure to support the scaling. With such a rapid influx of new employees we had to create an education team and the resources behind it. We now have an internal academy for new employees to self-learn and get up to speed with the company. With the bonus being that once our internal education infrastructure is in place we can turn and use the same resources to educate our customers and prospects so that we can support an even more scalable pace of growth. 

The other thing that we focus on when hiring is the rule to only hire some under you who can do the job better than you could. If we are going to slow down the process by growing the team, then the new team members need to bring the talents really maximize the working capacity of the team. We don’t settle for just “getting the job done,” we want employees who can get the job done better.

How do you structure Product Management to keep building the best possible business?

Product’s primary objective is to find the biggest opportunities for the company. We built out the product management team to not only focus on delivering the best product, but to recognize and identify the opportunities presented to us. For example, we have several product managers just working on our conversion funnel improving short term results.

While at the same time we have our strategy group out in the wild talking to customers and prospect to build a product strategy that will bring us the largest results. We also invest heavily in BI and internal measurement. We want our product team to have the resources to quickly understand the impact of product changes and improve our offering. What are the toughest lessons that you have learned?

Perseverance has been key to our success. For a long time we had a huge vision but were limited with resources when it came to execution. But we kept iterating and pivoting, constantly testing to reach the results that have proven so successful for us today.

How do you take insights from sales and marketing to iterate on the product?

Our product strategy team works closely with both sales and marketing to influence our roadmap. Marketing has the wide breadth of knowledge about the market and competitors to highlight the differentiating features, while sales serves partially as an invaluable voice of the customer.

How do you think about the role of sales teams when deploying digital business?

We are a B2B company so sales are at the heart of our growth plans. If you can’t talk to and understand your customers it will be very difficult to launch and scale a business. How do you manage your own Board so they deliver the rights sort of support for the business?

Maybe I am lucky, but I don’t feel like I have to manage my board. I rely on my board to give the guidance and help shape the strategy that has made us one of the fastest growing companies in the world.  

How do you retain staff?

It starts with hiring, if we hire the best and surround them with good people then they are much less likely to want to leave. We also invest a lot in our employees. We send employees to conferences where they can learn and engage with peers from other companies. We send our teams to technical training courses where we cover the associated costs.

We are starting a program that will build career paths for employees by setting career goals and hooking them up with mentors.  Our HR team also keeps a vigilant eye on the market to make sure that we are competitive with salaries and benefits.