Outbrain, our baby startup, is now a public company. There’s lots to be proud of on a day like this. As the founders, we wanted to share a few things we’re particularly proud of:
Staying true to our vision
In nearly 15 years of building one of the world’s leading recommendation platforms with some of the most talented engineers and product people on the planet, there’s obviously so much that has changed during that period. We’ve evolved and grown much more than we could have imagined when we started.
At the same time, when comparing the core product experience today to the mock-up in our original 2006 business plan, the two products are remarkably similar. When we founded Outbrain as the world’s first recommendation platform for publishers, both discovery and advertising on publishers felt fundamentally broken to us.
15 years later, we’re incredibly proud to see that our vision for this part of the world has materialized and stayed so true to our original vision, not only at Outbrain, but also with quite a few other companies that we have inspired over the years to walk in our footsteps.
(thankfully, we have not stayed true to our original logo! )
Staying true to our values and culture
About a decade ago, when we had maybe 25 people on the team, our VCs decided to do an “intervention” of sorts, and summoned Ori and me for a serious talk. They told us that they were deeply impressed by our culture at Outbrain, which was very unique and special amongst the 100’s of companies across their portfolios. But they wanted to prepare us for the day that those values and culture needed to be compromised and ‘standardized’ as we grew beyond ~25 people. They told us with confidence that this is what always happens as companies grow.
15 years later, and now as a public company, we’re incredibly proud that we have been able to retain and grow the things that make Outbrain so special for all of us. If anything, we feel like some of our company’s core values like Trust and Integrity are now much more important than ever, and they are embedded so deeply into the Outbrain fabric.
When we started the company, values like being inclusive and respectful of others were important, but not widely applicable with 25 people in two locations. Today, with a company of nearly 900 people in more than a dozen incredibly diverse countries – those values are absolutely paramount for us.
We’ve attempted to codify some of what’s important for us in Outbrain’s culture and values via our Culture Manifesto, and we welcome you to read it here.
We’ve proved our core values to be resilient to growth and geographical expansion. And now we’re excited to prove how resilient that they will remain for us as we transition to the public markets.
Our colleagues, current and former
When Ori and I founded the company, we had a long discussion about those core attributes that were going to be fundamental for both of us. One of them was to ensure that as we embarked on this marathon, that we did our utmost to gather a team of people that every morning we excitedly wanted to come to work with. Our current ~900 teammates, as well as the thousands of former teammates we’ve had over the years are something we’re incredibly proud of.
Specifically, we’re most proud when we get to be an important part of a teammate’s development, both professionally and personally. It’s a special moment when we hear from an Outbrain employee, whether current or past, about the impact that the Outbrain culture left on their personality and their career path.
And this also works the other way around – over the years we have grown as founders and leaders, thanks to the incredible Outbrain teammates surrounding us. We’ve learned and been inspired in so many ways by our colleagues, current and former. For that we are incredibly thankful.
While the IPO is a huge milestone for the company, it is just that – a milestone. For our new shareholders that we’re welcoming, the IPO is the 1st day of their Outbrain journey. All of us Outbrainers are now assuming the responsibility of being great custodians of the great company we’ve built, for many years to come.
We listed the things that make us proud today, in light of our 15 year history. To make sure we all strive towards the same Lighthouse, we want to list a few things we hope to be incredibly proud of in the years and decades to come:
- Treat our new, public shareholders, with the same level of integrity and trust as we expect from each other. I blogged about having a ‘single story’ nearly a decade ago here.
- Keep delivering on our short-term projections, as proof of our long-term vision and strategy. Outbrain has always been a long-term inclined company, starting with our fundamental ‘1st Principle’ that optimizes for long-term values. Some might feel like our shift to a public company means we’re now a short-term focused company. Nothing could be further from the truth! Being a public company means that our long term focus and vision for our industry are more important than ever. At the same time, it’s also more important than ever that we continue delivering on our short-term commitments, as that’s usually a great indicator that we are executing well on our long-term strategy.
- Focus obsessively on our business partners. Keeping an eye open on competition is important, as is learning, adapting and improving to keep winning competition. But the market we’re in is gigantic, and the best way to ensure we continue growing and succeeding is to obsessively listen and learn from our customers. The better we serve them, the more ROAS we deliver to them, the more yield and CTR we generate, etc – the more successful we will all be.
- Lastly – never forget who our real Boss is. As I’ve told each Outbrainer over the years – we might be the bosses for the day-to-day things. But our collective real Boss is the consumer. They decide who serves them with a good, trusted user experience, and they decide who to ‘pay’ attention to. Our Boss has trusted Outbrain with their recommendations for 15 years now, and we have always done our best to serve them. Remember – our Boss does not care if our shares are listed privately or publicly. And so now more than ever, we have to always remember that the consumer is our real Boss, and it’s on us to stay accountable to her and serve her better than ever.
A new chapter begins now. Outbrainers – take the weekend to catch your breath from this incredible process, and back to work to deliver value to our new shareholders and Boss!!!
Yaron & Ori