AiThority Interview with Or Lenchner, CEO at Luminati Networks
Hi Or, please tell us about your journey in the technology space and how you started at Luminati Networks.
I started my career initiating and founding a couple of web-based companies. Once I met the founders of Luminati Networks, I was so intrigued by the company and its goals that I had to join them.
They simply spoke my language. I quickly sold my companies and joined Luminati as a product manager. I then rapidly advanced to become vice president of the product department.
Designing new products aimed at solving present and future customer concerns is something that has always been a passion of mine. Until today, I have maintained this role alongside the role of CEO. If I’m honest with myself, it’s what I enjoy the most.
For the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve been CEO of Luminati while the company and the domain have grown exponentially. Our goal to deliver transparency to the World Wide Web has proven to be essential or even mission critical to almost all market sectors. Even once-reluctant market sectors, such as the financial and banking sectors, have now turned to public online data for frequent reality checks of their market. During the past year, online data has proven to be the only source of information that is fast and flexible enough to provide a reliable market or consumer-based snapshot.
As a CEO of a tech company, how much has your role evolved in the COVID-19 era?
I’m sure many CEOs would agree with me on this: The past year was a year like no other. We’ve experienced and are still experiencing a crisis that has been presenting multiple unprecedented challenges. On the one hand, it’s a health challenge that requires you, as a CEO, to factor in plenty of health concerns that you never had to deal with before. On the other hand, almost overnight we have had to manage a completely different market reality, which translated itself into a rapid shift in demand.
During the early days of the pandemic, I found myself looking for a definition. I knew once I could define the situation for myself and the company it would quickly translate into a plan. Definition means strategy, and strategy meant an action plan to manage the present and future steps that we were anticipating. As always, frequent data gathering helped us analyze and left little room for guess work.
As a CEO, I feel my role evolved in the overall scale of responsibility, not necessarily in my skillset. Handling and successfully managing a crisis at this scale meant dedicating a lot more attention and resources to details, which, as a company, we excel in doing. In fact, attention to detail is truly our everyday routine.
Tell us a bit about your remote workplace / pandemic management technology stack. How do these technology stacks help you stay on top of your game?
Even before the pandemic, we were hiring based on skills rather than physical location, so we were already familiar with building our team and their capabilities to work on a remote basis. As a rule, we always let our teams select their work office location, and many worked remotely prior to the pandemic. Therefore, our tech set-up was completely adjusted to the circumstances.
As the pandemic started, we quickly found out that we all prefer to work from the office. Overall, it’s more efficient. However, the shift to working only from home was an easy and rapid shift altogether.
As a company, we are great believers in working according to well-set, well-defined procedures, processes and checklists that are based on transparent communication. We are also focused on implementing automation as much as possible into our processes, which affects our internal working tools as well. So, when we were faced with working from home, we created such procedures to quickly adapt to the new situation, allowing our teams to work at the same speed as they did before the pandemic. Whether it is dealing with product development processes or even marketing campaign approvals, everyone quickly adjusted to working remotely, which is how we work today.
Our communication channels have become even more transparent than before, and we make sure we all maintain a very steady stream of communication. Adding automation has only helped this process. I believe that many new processes that have been created to cope with working remotely will stay with us well after the pandemic ends.
Your interaction with CIOs and CDOs — what do they usually sound like? An impressive lesson you learned during these conversations?
Usually, CIOs and CDOs are trying to solve a problem they have within the organization or in their industry. It’s always interesting to communicate with CIOs and CDOs because they can guide you and shed light over the major issues they see today as well as future issues they want to solve. As we see ourselves as a loyal partner to our customers, I like to think a couple of steps ahead with them and see how we can better utilize the data to serve their technology roadmaps as well as their business strategies. For example, currently, there is a huge increase in demand for alternative data by hedge funds and banks. The past year has quickly demonstrated that those kinds of organizations can no longer rely on traditional sources of data alone. Getting frequent data that relates to immediate investments has become a must. These types of data, such as a company’s recruitment activities, have not been at the forefront in the past but are now taking center stage. And this has definitely been led by CIOs and CDOs to address emerging needs.
About Services and Technology Offerings
What are data center proxies? What kind of data management resource does a company need to handle these?
Data center proxies are a traditional static set of IP proxies as opposed to Residential IP proxies. As a customer, you are assigned to a set pool of IPs and can use them as you see fit to address your business requirements.
On the customer side, all you need is a proxy manager to have complete visibility of this entire pool, either self-made or by using an open-source proxy manager that we provide.
Why do organizations need a reliable Proxy Manager with Data Collector?
Using the Data Collector actually saves the customer the need to install, configure and maintain a proxy manager and all the infrastructure of browsers behind it. The Data Collector does the work you need and provides ready, validated, and quality structured data in the format you request.
A proxy manager is only needed if the customer himself generates the browser requests and needs to manage the pool of IPs he is using to run them through.
The Luminati pyramid enables customers to collect high-quality, reliable public web data with speed and effectiveness.
- Luminati’s bottom layer consists of a solid IP proxy infrastructure that has a variety of IP types, a large IP pool, and presence in every geographical region in the world. Scalability and accuracy of their customers’ data collection depends on this layer.
- Their second layer is the software tools they’ve built that decipher bot detection techniques and unblock their customers’ target sites, as well as cookie and fingerprint management. This ensures their customers have access to the public online data they need.
- Finally, the top layer, using the vital elements from the bottom two layers, consists of their latest tool, the Data Collector. This is the first-of-its-kind automated data collection tool, which allows their customers to collect the most accurate data at scale quickly, easily, and without getting blocked.
The Data Collector integrates and automates all stages of the data collection process for their customers but leaves them in full control over the data they collect. Customers can choose from hundreds of existing collection templates. They can ‘click and collect’ a new target with the Data Collector extension without any prior coding knowledge. Alternatively, they can use the IDE code editor, where they can write more complex crawl code, and the system extracts the data they need without any manual intervention or onboarding required.
For customers, building a system from which to collect data effectively usually takes months and requires ongoing management and maintenance. The Data Collector solves this issue and allows them to collect the most reliable data at scale in a matter of minutes.
What is the methodology driving “Alternative Data”? What role is Luminati playing in bringing alternative data to center of banking and fintech platforms?
Alternative data is driven by the growing demand for real-time insights from non-traditional data sources. While all industries can benefit from analyzing alternative data, banking and fintech companies have a heightened need for it, since their decisions involve financial transactions.
While many banks and fintech firms have not let go of traditional data, they have started to embrace alternative data as a way to gain a competitive edge over competitors. COVID-19 created a shift towards online activities and a digital marketplace that’s driving banks and investors to turn to alternative data, since it can provide a real-time picture that lets these industries come to timely decisions about risk management, loans, and more.
Big Data is exploding and so are the threats of data leaks.
Tell us how a company like Luminati provides a Data Collector without coding support and still be successful in the industry as far as preventing data leaks are concerned?
For the Data Collector, we are continuously going through security audits, GDPR compliance reviews, and specific security reviews for being a data processor. We are taking every measure we can to prevent data leakage and to maintain complete compliance and stick to ethical guidelines. It is important to us to continuously check and upgrade our operation, and I fully recommend that every company who manages a large-scale data collection operation does the same.
Could you provide a detailed overview on the ethical usage management adopted at Luminati?
Transparency is our core and a must-have fundamental guideline. As an organization, it is well imprinted into our technology, methodology and the company’s DNA and culture.
We only collect publicly available data. We fully abide by GDPR and CCPA regulations. Our customers are well aware of it.
This is important to state.
Our IP proxy network also follows these well-established ethical usage guidelines. We clearly state and make sure our network opted-in consumers are well aware of the terms of contributing their IP address to the network as well as how and when their IP addresses will be used. No other asset is ever accessed besides their IP addresses. In addition, we make sure their overall user experience is improved by providing significant benefits they can immediately enjoy and leverage.
Our opted-in consumers can also easily opt out at any given time with ease.
As for our processes and methodology, once again, we let transparency guide us. Every new customer must go through a comprehensive compliance procedure, and only business or use cases promoting web-transparency are approved. For example, during 2020, we terminated or else did not approve from the get-go 619 cases that did not comply with our ethical guidelines. Such cases included fake engagement on social media or using the network for a different purpose than previously stated. We also continuously monitor our network, using both manual and automated methods; we ensure our network is safeguarded 24/7.
When it comes to collecting public data, we make sure we do not overload the websites with requests and carefully monitor the traffic. We always monitor the site functionality to ensure that we never cause any harm to the digital ecosystem. This is a critical element to any data collection operation and must be respected at all times!
For this reason and many more, together with the World Ethical Data Forum, we have recently established a-first-of its-kind data collection ethical committee which will address all emerging data collection related questions, providing clear guidance where it is needed the most.
Why should companies pay more attention to Consent and User Compliance Evaluation in 2021?
User consent is part of transparency, and we always support companies being transparent with their customers. This is especially relevant to online activity, such as shopping: 41% of online shoppers will walk away without making a purchase when they find out they are being monitored. In today’s environment, consumers don’t think of transparency as an added bonus – they see it as an expectation from all.
If you’re not giving customers an opt-in option of having their data collected, then you risk losing customer trust. One way to show customers the importance of data collection is to show them the value of it – such as offering a better shopping experience by suggesting similar items they’ve recently browsed. If companies want to maintain their customer base in 2021, they have to make sure they’re being transparent.
Vision and Insights for 2021
What is your vision for 2021 as far as fending away threats such as sensitive data leaks and ransomware are concerned? Can AI ML and IT Network Automation prove to be a potent answer against these threats?
Data leakage security is not Luminati Networks’ area of expertise, so I find it hard to comment on which technologies will emerge to combat the phenomena. Luminati is helping its customers to collect publicly available data. However, the significant measures needed to safeguard the data that Luminati collects, and the amount of time and effort required to seal off possible leak points and reduce risks make it quite clear that most companies would lack the resources and focus needed to properly safeguard such data. Therefore, they would benefit from the option of leaving their data in the safe hands of expert companies who focus on collecting and storing web data. These companies allow their clients to safely collect the data they need as frequently as they need it and to quickly analyze it to draw the right business or tech strategy conclusions. With this data, they can frequently infuse their business case with reliable, relevant information while discarding the raw data without having the trouble of storing it for long periods of time, which places them at great risk.
Your most prized customer win / case study that you would like to
We have several wins and case studies that we are hugely proud of but cannot openly discuss for obvious reasons. As you know, data is probably the most valuable asset a company holds these days.
I will, however, mention one case of a brand protection company that we have been working with for some time. Red Points is the fastest-growing brand protection company in the market today. With offices in NY, Salt Lake City, Barcelona, and Beijing, Red Points has transformed an industry traditionally led by intellectual property lawyers and services-focused companies into a scalable, cost-effective technology solution. The company serves multiple leading global brands in several market sectors and is included in the top-three list of global companies dedicated to brand protection. Red Points needed a scalable dynamic solution for collecting public online data without getting blocked. As you know, counterfeit brand and brand-related fraudulent activity has become an increasingly growing issue, especially during the last year.
Red Points’ data collection operations are mostly concentrated on identifying potential product fraud, illegal representation of brand names, and the illegal display of brand products. They were also searching for videos, images, and audio files that may breach Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
Red Points selected Luminati Networks’ Unblocker tool to help collect online data. Our Unblocker solution allowed Red Points to easily expand its offering to more customers and improve the quality of service to existing customers. It also allowed Red Points to re-allocate its workforce from debugging and unblocking tasks to other activities, saving the company great resources. Luminati’s automated data collection provided Red Points with the optimal tool to comprehensively address the mission of brand protection from every angle.
One startup segment / company you are most keenly following in 2021
I closely follow Twitch. Their ethical guidelines are an inspiration to me. They recently decided to fight the ‘fake engagement pandemic’ – they realized that this source of activity generates significant amounts of fake views and other types of engagement, which also causes AI machines to be fed with the wrong type of data. I think they are on the right track, and I totally support them and follow their direction of responsible conduct.
Thank you, Or! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
Ever since his appointment as Luminati CEO, Or Lenchner, 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, finance 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.
Our value system and mission are both predicated on the principles of achieving complete data transparency while promoting an equal opportunity digital environment. In this context, businesses and consumers alike benefit from our ethically sound and legally compliant data collection capabilities.
Our global network is comprised of consumers and businesses who share our values and want to accomplish everything from competitive pricing and brand protection to creating digital assets free from malicious security threats and ad fraud.
We also believe in fair partnerships that allow users, app/website owners, and businesses to enjoy benefits such as an ad-free user experience (users), getting paid for opt-ins (app-owners), and attaining crucial, live data (businesses).
We are trusted by Fortune 500 companies across the globe, have been recognized by Gartner for our data contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic and distinguished by Frost & Sullivan for our technological prowess.
We offer our partners and clients several layers GDPR and CCPA compliant proxy network and data collection solutions which are unique and unrivaled – with 72 million residential IP addresses and over 750 granted patent claims. Our global team is leaded by data specialists that help companies value the importance of data collection as a key component for success now and in the future!