Ronny joins Outbrain following a six year tenure as Chief Data Scientist at Yahoo! to Head Outbrain’s Recommendations Group.
Hear more from the man himself on why Outbrain was the right next step, his predictions for content discovery in the second half of 2014 and why he loves a fast growing organisation.
Why did you want to join Outbrain?
Outbrain has an excellent reputation in Israel, both in terms of the business success and in terms of the quality of people on board. Couple that with my passion for the technological area of content recommendation and personalization, and joining Outbrain was a no-brainer.
What is the most attractive aspect of Outbrain’s culture?
Outbrain is still small enough for everybody to understand how all the pieces in the puzzle fit together, and what’s going on with the company as the business grows. This creates a strong sense of dedication and connection with the company as a whole rather than just with one’s own group or unit. Coming from companies that were 30 or 1000 times larger, that wasn’t always the case.
Who will you follow first from the company on Yammer, Twitter…?
Sorry, I’m not a Twitter user at all (nor Facebook, etc.), and haven’t really spent enough time on Yammer yet.
What are the most interesting/relevant insights from your previous companies/experience that you will bring to bear at Outbrain?
Coming from over 11 years at industrial research organizations such as Yahoo Labs and IBM Research, I hope to emphasize principled scientific approaches as we continue to advance recommendation technology here at Outbrain.
Do you have any predictions for 2014 relating to content discovery/marketing?
I believe we’ll see a continuing trend of people discovering content either through social networks or through the work of personalization and recommendation algorithms, at the expense of traditional editorial selection and prioritization of content at online media outlets. We’ll also see video growing at the expense of text.
What is/are some of your favourite type/s of content?
I have 3-4 favorite outlets (Israel specific, sports and tech) where I begin my browsing sessions, and from there I meander through the Web through the use of whatever recommendations are available. In certain stories I make sure to read users’ comments, which in some cases have a tendency to be hilarious. I don’t consume too much video content, mainly because pre-roll ads test my patience.
How would you summarise your background?
I did my MSc and PhD focusing on search engine technology, and then spent 4.5 years doing research and building enterprise search products at IBM Research. I then moved to Yahoo Labs, where my 6.5 years there started out with a focus on Web search and ended with a focus on media recommendation and ad targeting. Search and recommendation technology share many similarities and one can draw plenty of parallels between the two domains, so in some sense my entire academic and industrial experience has been around routing relevant information and content to users.
What do you love about fast growing organisations?
Well, fast growth is typically a result of business success, and there’s always lots of excitement and vibe in successful organizations. Furthermore, the influx of new people brings with it new energies and new ideas that is crucial for continued innovation.