Entain Baltics & Nordics is the largest iGaming operator in the Baltics with an ambition to expand well beyond, becoming one of the leading online gaming companies in other regions of Europe as well. The company offers iGaming products through many of its brands and is a truly diverse company with more than 720 people from more than 15 countries working from 7 different offices all across Europe.
We talked to Oleg Karpušenko, the head of the HR department at Entain Baltics & Nordics, about how to build a great company culture that values diversity and inclusiveness and what are the essential elements for creating a friendly and down-to-earth company culture.
🔵 Let’s start with the first question. What exactly does Entain Baltics & Nordics do?
Previously known as Enlabs we are now known as Entain Baltics & Nordics and we represent the iGaming industry, which is well developed in the Baltics. We’ve been in this business for nearly twenty years by now, ever since 2006.
We offer our customers five key products.
Online casino with a variety of games.
Live casino with an actual dealer on the other side of the screen who communicates with players.
Sportsbook, where it is possible to bet mostly on sports, but on specific occasions – also on elections, Eurovision, Academy Awards, etc.
We have a variety of brands with different products. “Optibet” and “Ninja Casino” are the biggest ones which perhaps you might have heard of. In total, we have eight brands as part of our company portfolio.
Essentially, we’re offering the purest form of entertainment. Compared to many illegal operators, which don’t have a license to operate on the market, we operate in the licensed and regulated markets with governmental institutions supervising and controlling our operations. We are on good terms and relations with these institutions, and we comply with every market’s rules and regulations.
We have also introduced different programs to address customer protection issues, and we have a department where our employees track the behaviour of players. If we see abnormalities, for example, someone is playing and losing non-stop, then we act upon it and limit or even restrict their activity. We have always said that we are up for fun, and as soon as the element of fun for our customers disappears, no one is winning.
🔵 Entain Baltics & Nordics operates globally, with offices in Tallinn, Riga, Marbella, Vilnius, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Valletta. In your opinion, what are the biggest advantages of a diverse workplace?
There are many aspects to it, but one peculiar thing is that a team consisting of diverse people will definitely help create better results, translating them into success for the company.
It has happened organically for us. There’s a reason why we have an office in all those locations. Having those gives us many opportunities and advantages. For example, people get to travel between different offices, change their environment, meet other people and exchange ideas.
🔵 What steps have you taken in your organisation to make Entain Baltics & Nordics a diverse and inclusive workplace?
Firstly, the decisions which have shaped Entain Baltics & Nordics into what it is today are because of actions the company has executed from top to bottom. One of the main key success factors is our CEO George Ustinov who has always supported all the crucial changes and trusted me as Head of HR as well as an entire function of HR and what it can bring to the table. There are quite many companies where CEOs see HR function only as a cost or as an administrative function tasked only with preparing employment contracts and doing the paperwork. I am happy and proud to say this is not the case with us.
We would never prefer to hire people from one specific country/region, only because it’s harder for us to relocate them or have a prejudice that they will not perform well. Sadly, if we look at this aspect broader, I think this kind of mindset seemingly exists in the heads of directors of departments and sometimes even CEOs. We have infused our philosophy and attitude into everyone within our company. That’s the first layer of diversity at our company.
Because of this trust from the top and a heavy support from my HR team, as well as fellow peers (heads of departments), we built the HR function the way I thought it had to function in the company. There is no internal company “culture” where there is a need to receive a formal approval for every little thing. I have heard and witnessed myself, from my previous experience, that in other companies there is a very high level of bureaucracy and over-formalised twenty-five layers of approvals to manage even the simplest things. This requires to go through unnecessarily plenty of approval stages, making it hard to get things done fast and efficiently.
Every day in our company we make an utmost effort to treat our people like they would want to be treated – we actually listen to them and make an effort to satisfy their needs when/if possible. We have built a very collective and friendly team where people communicate easily, openly and transparently. Yes, there is a certain hierarchy and a rational, logical, efficient organisational structure, but there aren’t too many unnecessary hierarchical levels which usually tend to complicate things. All our heads of departments/functions are friendly, down-to-earth, helpful, approachable and supportive. We do operate an “Open Doors” policy and, for example, if a junior level employee needs to talk to our CEO, they can just come in and do that. No need to “apply for an appointment” or operate other silly corporate “bs”.
Four and a half years ago, when I joined the company, we had under 200 employees. Today we are a Team of over 720 people. People choose to stay in the company and our employee turnover rate is healthy. Also other key HR KPIs such as overall engagement and motivation scores, as well as eNPS (Employee Net promoter score) are very good. This growth of the business and actual HR KPIs allow me to believe that everything I have just described about our culture, diversity, and inclusiveness is working in real life and correlates with reality and is just not existing in my utopian imagination.
🔵 In your opinion, why is diversity and inclusion in the workplace important?
Ultimately, it gives people the opportunity and an environment where they feel good, safe and protected. HR department employees, with a strong support of other heads of departments, are actively participating in creating this environment. The more diversity and inclusivity initiatives we do, the more present and happy people we get to have in our company. This directly translates into their output and performance and this in turn – directly into the company’s results and success.
I will gladly give another example of how we embrace, promote and celebrate diversity in our company. June, as you probably know, was the worldwide month of Pride celebration. For the first time in the history of our company this year we started talking candidly and openly about this topic with our employees, inviting the director of the LGBT Association in Estonia to discuss this topic during an open forum.
My logic is telling me – even if it is just one person who feels unsafe or insecure, and the same person sees or notices this effort from the company, my guess is that this person would think, “Okay, that’s good to know – I’m actually working in a company where they accept you being gay, lesbian, queer or transgender.”. If, let’s imagine, this employee comes back to their family and friends, and says “You know what? I am working in this awesome 21st century-minded company where they openly talk about these things!”, then for us in HR it is totally and completely worth our entire effort.
We are also aware and are openly discussing aspects where we know we are not exactly the best example when it comes to diversity. For instance, if I look at the top management team and the percentage of females represented on that level – I know for sure there is still room for improvement for us. And this is the exciting bit right here – we are aware where we can be better, and we are planning to work on that front to ensure higher gender equality and representation.
🔵 What metrics do you have in place to measure the success of your inclusiveness in the company?
We have quite a lot of metrics. Firstly, we have our key HR KPIs. We are constantly measuring and tracking our employee turnover rate (monthly, annual, voluntary, involuntary, etc.). We also consistently track our employee engagement scores, as well as eNPS. If we’re looking at more particular metrics, we have identified and set some specific diversity-related metrics, for instance, percentage of gender split.
Few other KPIs are related to pay equality. On that front – we have just done our internal analysis, and we are quite pleased with our findings. What is super important in my opinion is to measure those KPIs regularly, not doing an employee engagement survey once per year as some other companies still do. And this is exactly what we do in Entain – we follow and track our HR KPIs on a monthly, sometimes even on a weekly basis.
🔵 That’s an excellent thing! I’ve heard about companies doing their employee satisfaction surveys only once per year, usually during Christmas when everyone is happy because they received a bonus. That means they’re distorting reality.
The drawback in this situation is that most likely people in HR or heads of departments get a very tiny glimpse into employee satisfaction. They know how people felt on that specific day, once per year, giving them no valuable insights over the longer term.
We in our company are using an awesome HR tool called Officevibe, which enables us to track daily/weekly/monthly engagement rates and satisfaction, and measures happiness, relationships with peers, and a bunch of other relevant aspects. It allows employees to answer the questions completely anonymously.
Check out Entain Baltics & Nordicscareer page and open positions:
🔵 Could you name the essential insights, conclusions, or takeaways you’ve learned from the process of building a diverse and inclusive workplace?
I think the key to success here is actually quite simple: to genuinely, truthfully like and want to take care of people. Every time someone approaches you with an issue, question or complaint, it is essential to find the time and opportunity to listen to this person, give advice or consult, and help find a solution. It is vital to pay attention to your people. And the truth is quite sour in my opinion – if you are busy once and do not have time for that colleague the next time – very likely they will not come back to you. Ever.
I am hopeful that this behaviour of mine, and actions – the way I have been treating our employees throughout the years – have been noticed by my peers, superiors, subordinates, fellow colleagues, and that they have been inspired by it and have also adopted this way of thinking and the mindset of how people have to be treated in the organisation.
One more thing I will gladly share with you on a closing note – in order to build a diverse and inclusive workplace – you need to have a clear understanding, plan and a roadmap which combined will answer all of these questions: why do you want to build such an environment? What advantages will it give you? Do you have your CEO’s and colleagues’ back for it? Do you have the tools and resources for it? Are you sure it will be sustainable in your organisation? And most importantly – are people ready for it? If you have an answer for the majority of these questions – brace yourself and get ready for the journey! And I promise you it will be a very exciting and exhilarating one!
We have had the opportunity to interview a lot of great companies & people over the past year – each with their own unique story to tell. We’ve talked about remote hiring, building outstanding company culture, “spoiling the employees” with perks and many more interesting topics. ✌️
Here are the top 10 most popular articles from last year, ranked by the number of readers.
#10 – Ubiquiti
We start off the list with a conversation with Kristaps Rikans, Regional Managing Director at Ubiquiti. 🛠
Ubiquiti is a truly unique technology company globally, as there are no other companies that have shipped so many different IT products with such a small R&D team. We talked about how does Ubiquiti manage to keep its employees happy, motivated and so productive.
We chatted with Httpool a while back, in the summer of 2021, but the interview is as relevant and popular as ever, because Httpool’s global reach and direct access to the largest tech platforms in the world. 🌍
We interviewed Arnis Ozols, Regional Managing Director, about why talent should consider joining the journey. For a candid look into the company and its projects, we also chatted with four bright sales & marketing experts from Httpool about their experiences.
To get a glimpse of life in a truly global adtech company, we interviewed Karolina Baltuonytė, Global Platform Solutions Consultant at Adform.
The people filling the client-facing roles in Adform, work in a truly international environment with the biggest brand names in the world. We talked about NYC’s hustle and bustle, how to gain clients’ attention in a different cultural environment and how to step out of your comfort zone for a confidence boost. 🚀
Surfshark is a cybersecurity company with quite a story, for example, reaching one million paying customers faster than Netflix and becoming one of the most popular VPNs globally in just 30 months. Shortly after the interview, Surfshark joined forces with Nord Security to become 2nd Lithuanian tech unicorn. 🦄
We talked with Regimantas Urbanas, Chief Marketing Officer of Surfshark, about its most significant achievements, stellar growth, cybersecurity trends, and much more.
Katana, one of the most popular Estonian employers on MeetFrank, is well on its way to building the world’s leading manufacturing platform. Naturally, we had tonnes of questions for Priit Kaasik, its co-founder and CTO. 💡
The conversation went deep into their technological backbone, but also touched on lighter subjects, such as why is their office PS5 and barista-grade coffee so heavily underused.
Every now and then, a start-up goes into hypergrowth. Kilo Health is the perfect example of this by more than doubling both the revenue and size of the team in a year. 🚀
This is why we were excited to interview Juste Vižinytė, Chief People Officer at Kilo Health. We asked her about the thinking behind “spoiling the employees” with perks and benefits, why they discarded all rules regarding the working location, and much more!
The most popular interview of the past year comes from the aviation industry. The speed, the stressful situations, the fun, and the ever-changing daily life is the normal for all those working in SmartLynx Airlines. ✈️
We talked with SmartLynx Airlines Chief of People & Culture, Mara Steinberga, about what does it mean to work in the aviation, what are the most exclusive things about working in this industry, and how does the average daily routine looks like at SmartLynx (spoiler: every day is unique).
The trend in the IT market has remained the same over the past few years: the talents have the upper hand in the negotiation. Since there are more open positions than available talent, companies are implementing academies, growth & development plans, and developing internal talent to eventually fill senior positions. Oxylabs, a tech company providing web-scraping infrastructure, has faced these challenges first-hand.
Over the past three years, Oxylabs launched several new products, attracted the attention of Fortune 500 companies, and managed to double its headcount. In the interview, Monika Gerybaite, Web Product Owner, explains how their company tackled the industry-wide challenges and worked to maintain rapid growth.
🔵 How would you describe Oxylabs as a company? What is so unique about it?
Well, what surprised me the most was how much freedom Oxylabs offered. There is a lot of encouragement to create new products or try new technologies, not to mention professional growth opportunities. As you might imagine, not many companies that work directly with Fortune 500 companies can allow themselves to depart from their successful products.
But I would consider our willingness to experiment and openness to failure to be our main reason for success. We have a relatively open market to experiment with, and public data isn’t being used to its full potential yet. It’s a big motivator to have an entire market we can conquer with enough innovation.
🔵 So you consider the freedom to experiment the main strength of the company? What are some other features about the organization that makes you proud?
Besides freedom, it has to be the people. Competitive salaries are a must these days, but having a team you can completely trust and share the same passion for new ideas and their implementation is exceptional. We are all different in our personalities but united in a desire to experiment and try something new together. Being this diverse yet tightly connected allows us to learn from each other, find inspiration, and keep exceeding ourselves.
Oxylabs, as an organization, has a culture that supports growth. Individuals are empowered to do what they can while striving to do better. A big kudos goes to our HR department, who have supported us every step and helped us grow continuously.
🔵 What’s Oxylabs’ position when it comes to people? How do you invest in people & company culture more broadly?
We love our people here, and it’s not an overstatement. Even the executives support individuals and teams, as they understand that it’s our most valuable resource. We are an industry-leading and rapidly-growing company based in Lithuania, where the pool of talents is relatively limited. Therefore, we must treat and nurture each individual as best as we can.
This reflects the overall work environment, as everyone brings their best to the table. We have a strong foundation of what Oxylabs is about and build upon it by learning from our talents, giving them all the resources they need, and keeping processes fluid.
By prioritizing the employees, we as an organization can identify areas for improvement and grow simultaneously. Because of that, we have a high retention rate, and our colleagues have a lot of growth opportunities, like being promoted or pivoting to other positions.
🔵 What about personal & team growth? You mentioned people grow, but what are the means to achieve it?
I consider feedback culture as a key factor for growth. We allow people to fail and share feedback in a safe setting, and through this, we nurture growth. Other tools for personal development are relatively common, like training budget and library for various topics.
On top of that, we seek to grow employees to managerial or senior positions. For example, seeing a motivated employee with a potential for such a role, we aim to provide them with the necessary training to develop their skills as team leaders and help prepare them as best as we can.
Overall, we, as direct managers, also create a strong sense of ownership in our teams. When faced with a market with lots of untapped potential, we tend to trust each other’s decision-making, thus making the ideal environment for trying, failing, and getting up again. Growth comes naturally when you combine a challenging environment, colleague support, and the ability to learn from your mistakes.
🔵 How do you keep the team aligned and moving in the right direction? How much autonomy do the employees have when setting goals?
We use an Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework. It lets us combine company-level strategic direction with team-level initiatives, and everyone is welcome to propose their ideas for the next quarter. This is yet another thing that makes me love Oxylabs – there is no micromanagement, and teams themselves get to decide what will make the most impact.
As we live in a fast-paced tech world, we have no choice but to believe that our employees know best. Setting a direction based on data and trends and then putting the “how” in their hands lets us stay on course and achieve more.
🔵 What risks come with the power of decision-making and personal ownership over tasks?
In my experience, ownership can easily be overdone. Some people want to do everything exactly right and try doing it by themselves. Others start neglecting feedback or overthinking the solutions. Caring too much can be just as harmful as not caring enough, and in such cases, any bump often leads to fear of mistakes, losing confidence, and taking the failure personally.
To minimize these risks we form cross-functional squads with dedicated CEOs and CTOs in the form of Product Owners and Tech Leads. They keep our processes smooth, overlook the whole picture and are accountable for critical decisions. So far, it has been working out well, and we believe it maximizes the potential of our teams.
🔵 Oxylabs being a tech company, how do you keep up with the changing trends in technology?
First and foremost, I would say that not every new trend needs to be followed immediately. Compromises drive technological advancement, so it’s important to realize when it is worth chasing the latest trends. Otherwise, tech companies would spend most of their time adapting to new systems instead of developing new products.
We tend to choose technology by its maintainability, efficiency, ease of adoption, community & support, and the situation in the hiring market. Although new solutions are incorporated all the time, the core needs to be more stable to keep our products fast, reliable, and secure. For us, something like Golang is a perfect choice.
🔵 What’s your process for hiring new talent?
Again, we have to thank our HR department for this one. We have a strong team of recruiters who somehow always manage to find people who are not only talented but also an excellent cultural fit for our team.
Simply put, the hiring process is similar to many other companies. When we see a need for a specific professional, we start looking into it. We might look into internal talents, seek referrals, or search in the hiring market.
Usually, we adjust the process for each position, but we always try to ensure the candidates can show their skills and meet the team.
In my case, I mostly hire developers. We incorporate live coding, coffee meetings with someone from the team, and office tours into our flow. However, what makes the process extraordinary is my team. They give great feedback on candidates’ technical skills and can offer real-life examples of what challenges they face and how our growth culture reflects in their daily work.
Typically, exciting projects, a culture with a deep focus on growth, and learning are the key priorities people look for, so I’m glad we can offer exactly that.
Perforce Software (previously ZeroTurnaround) is the leading provider of enterprise-scale software for technology developers and development operations teams. Their services are for teams who require productivity, visibility, and scale throughout all phases of the development lifecycle.
We interviewed Hannes Linno, Director of Software Engineering, who told us about the maturity of the DevOps field and how Perforce’s innovation helps developers around the world work smarter. Among other things, we talked about career opportunities in a team consisting mainly of senior level engineers and the challenges of developing a range of products in various stages of maturity.
🔵 ZeroTurnaround originally developed JRebel and XRebel before being acquired by Perforce back in 2017. What organisational changes, if any, did the acquisition bring as both products are still developed in Estonia?
After the acquisition, Estonia has become the European strategic development centre for Perforce, a talent hub for multiple products. In Estonia, we went from being a Java-only company to a company that offers tools for the entire DevOps cycle.
The acquisition brought organisational changes, as would be expected, but Rebels are still a key part of the Perforce family. However, the product portfolio here keeps growing, as does Perforce globally, via new acquisitions. Our newest acquisition is Puppet, a leading software configuration management tool.
🔵 As you mentioned, Perforce is building many products for the DevOps field. Before we dive into more details, could you clarify what you mean by DevOps in your context?
To answer this question, I would start with what it is not. In recent years there has been a huge increase in job openings for DevOps engineers. Sadly, it is often simply considered a nicer name for system and application administrators when more and more infrastructure orchestration is done via coding and scripting. In reality, DevOps is a wider area, so it is not simply taking care of servers and infrastructure on public clouds or on-premise infrastructure.
So, what is DevOps? It involves Development and Operations tools and processes covering the full spectrum of areas from product planning, development and quality control to execution and stability in production environments.
DevOps is totally focused on doing things smarter and automating wherever possible to have higher quality and shorter development cycles. While DevOps as an area includes both tools and processes, Perforce’s focus is on building the best tools that support DevOps processes.
Our product portfolio already covers all main phases of the DevOps cycle, so we have tools for planning, development, quality control and operating customer solutions.
🔵 How mature is the DevOps market currently and where it is heading in the next few years?
In software development, the digitalization wave is still picking up speed immensely. In Estonia, we are used to everything being digitalized, but the rest of the world is still lagging behind.
In the next several years, more and more traditional companies must increase their IT investments to keep up with stiff competition. To manage the extra complexity, companies that want to remain relevant in ten years must increasingly focus on the full cycle of the DevOps flow.
We can already see the huge gap in the available software engineering workforce and increasing demands will only add to the pressure. In addition to growing digitalization, the new emerging technologies like AI, virtual reality and quantum computing increase the complexity to the next level.
This means that development and operations must improve automation so that developers work smarter and spend less time doing repetitive tasks. Continuing in the same way as we have built software so far is not possible. There are simply not enough software engineers in the world.
At Perforce our focus is to build tools that aid software engineers (developers, QA, system administrators, and tech support) to decrease development time and ensure the quality of the results.
🔵 Who are the users of your products?
At Perforce, we are building tools for other engineers. I would say it is a unique opportunity because, often, we are solving problems that most developers, including ourselves, are facing.
Our engineers have access to all the tools we are building in-house, allowing our employees to work together across products to find insights and provide quick feedback on what to improve. Whether it is about the functionality, usability or simply the documentation that is available for using the products and tools. It also allows us to build the features that fill the gaps between our different products so that the full cycle of tools works together efficiently.
Having a wide selection of products in our portfolio enables us to focus on areas that otherwise could fall between different products or solutions, especially where the market is too small for anyone wanting to invest there. In other words, we fill the gaps to save our customers time, money and reduce stress!
When speaking to our candidates, we often hear that they are coming from industries where the company’s purpose is not interesting for them, or they don’t really understand the problem their product is trying to solve. In our case, it is the opposite: Most engineers love the area they are working in and are eager to have better tools that help them work smarter.
🔵 Let’s talk a little about your organisation. What best describes your engineering teams?
Our teams are mainly built around senior level engineers. The advantage is that even if a team member has been in the industry for 10 or 20 years, they still have interesting challenges and can continue their learning path, as they can discuss the issues and solutions with like-minded people. It allows our teams to be agile, move faster, make quicker decisions and have the greatest innovation potential.
We also try to focus our benefits package on senior engineers. The emphasis is on work-life balance and extra time off because we know how important it is to take time for yourself or spend it with your family and friends. Happy people are best positioned to create innovation.
People and teams have a lot of independence and trust. We also have flexitime where each person manages their own working time, and each team can agree what is the best work routine for their team, like how many meetings they want to have, what kind of meetings, how much office time and what are the team’s working hours in general.
🔵 What kind of technologies can one expect to work with when joining Perforce?
As we have a wide range of products in various stages of maturity, we offer interesting challenges for different tastes.
We have products (such as Gliffy) that are end-user facing, where the focus is on usability and clean design. Then we have products where developers must work on deep tech and solve problems on a very low level, close to operating system features, like Rebel products that interact with code on the compilation level, to make it smoother and faster to execute.
We also contribute a lot to open source communities by addressing all kinds of unexpected user cases and problems. In relation to open source, not many people know that Zend, the trusted tool for PHP developers, is also developed by us. And at the same time, specifically for the semiconductor industry, we are developing an IP lifecycle management solution – Methodics.
🔵 What kind of career opportunities does Perforce offer?
Having such a wide stack of technologies provides numerous opportunities for long term growth for our people. It is common that if an engineer would like to work on a different product or with a new tech stack, they will receive support from their managers on finding another project within Perforce.
The experience we have is that people with long tenure want to stay in the company, as they love our culture and benefits, but simply want a new challenge and continue improving their skillset. And the only opportunity is not just moving between projects and technologies – since we are growing rapidly, we also have many opportunities to grow from engineering roles to management roles.
🔵 Could you briefly describe your hiring process? Do you have any tips to be successful in the process?
After an initial quick meet and greet on the phone with our recruiter, we typically have a more in-depth interview where we look for the technical knowledge needed for the position. Assuming that goes successfully, there is a meeting with the team and the direct manager.
My primary advice is to do your research about the product and the company. The interview process is not there to find your weaknesses, but rather to see where your skillset will best advance the Perforce vision. We are looking for people who are genuinely interested in our products and the problems they are there to solve.
As businesses around the world start heading towards a data-oriented approach, they are looking for automated ways to analyze publicly available data. Such is the solution provided by Oxylabs, a company that provides data API platforms like scrapers and proxy-related infrastructure.
Recently we sat down with Zydrunas Tamasauskas, Head of Product Development, to learn about how they manage fast-moving engineering teams, their go-to technologies and the overall approach to developing new products used by Fortune 500 companies.
🔵 Tell us a bit about Oxylabs as a company. What are your products and what’s unique about them?
Oxylabs really stands as a great, fast-moving tech company developing data services. We work with world-class engineering solutions and product development activities, where uniqueness comes in many forms. Our engineering department builds solutions that are yet to be patented or even applied in practice with high load and distributed computing systems.
Our main products are proxy and web-scraping tools. To put it simply, we provide an infrastructure to gather large-scale public data using web-scraping technology. What’s distinct about our services is the quality – our clients are among the largest companies in the world, many being listed in Fortune 500.
🔵 What drives you forward in the competitive market?
Being one of the top 3 products in the field is a great motivation by itself. The question is how to move up from there?
We have no singular path forward, which is why we love to experiment, innovate and fail fast to stay competitive. I’d say this drives us the most. The notion of building something faster, more effective, and completely new to the world drives engineering teams forward and thus affects product and marketing too. This makes us feel like inventors that bring change to the market.
🔵 Are you a product or a data-driven company? How do you measure the success of your products?
I believe as a company, we are product-led and data-informed. Data can be inaccurate and misleading, so sometimes, we just need to trust our hearts and minds. Being one of the leaders in the industry means that there are no footsteps to follow. That’s why we use our qualitative and quantitative data to get an idea of what we are going to build next.
As we strive to build better products, we measure metrics like customer satisfaction, ease of use, adoption rate, support issues, and similar. Of course, from the business perspective, product revenue always plays an important role. On a personal level, positive feedback from our customers who use the product daily and love it makes us proud and drives us to do even better.
🔵 Is there a way to predict the next big thing in the market that might just be the game-changer?
Since we are pioneers in our field, a large share of the innovation comes from our own people. Most of the developers at Oxylabs have been using proxies or data scraping at some point in their careers, so we try to build products for ourselves. This helps us figure out new product ideas and use cases. Then we start with building an MVP (minimum viable product) and check if something sticks. If it doesn’t, we scrap it and go for another big idea.
Some MVPs can be done even without writing a single line of code by using no-code or low code tools. We live by the idea of failing fast, improving faster. So, to answer the question: we don’t try to predict the next big thing. We just observe what features our users adapt and keep polishing them.
🔵 What, if any, are the go-to technologies at Oxylabs?
We don’t consider ourselves ‘tech-purists’, so we constantly incorporate something new to our tech stack, but it also depends on the hiring market.
Here in Vilnius, PHP is the most popular language, which is quite a nice language for writing APIs. We use Python for parsing, scraping, and data analysis due to its awesome libraries. In the front-end, React is a no-brainer as we also build browser extensions, mobile apps, and desktop apps (Electron, React Native). Golang is a fast language, so it was crucial to use it in our infrastructure, which gets an insane amount of load. As our front-end developers are switching to full-stack, we are now also incorporating Node.js, which gives them a lot of new cool stuff to learn.
🔵 How do you know what is the right technology to go with? How to stay relevant?
The choices depend on what we are doing with the technology, the appliances or goals that we strive to achieve, and what talent pool we have internally to use it. We already have a stable technology stack, and we evaluate new ones if we see them potentially beneficial for the product or the engineering community.
At some point, there might be a situation where previously widespread technology or framework falls in popularity, degrades in quality, or the hiring market dries up. Then we have to take action and replace it with something new and more exciting. Relevancy is an important topic for us given the scale of operations – we currently provide services in 216 countries and sell over 100M IPs while offering 24/7 service reliability.
🔵 Technology, engineering, and challenges – Is it a golden ratio for tech employees?
Yes, I tend to agree. Times have passed when you could impress potential employees with the latest hardware. For tech people to feel appreciated is to create conditions for personal growth, trying new things, and bringing new ideas to keep boredom away.
Tech talent wants to contribute, to have colleagues that support them throughout, and probably most importantly – they want to solve challenges that expand their knowledge base. People naturally want to grow. What makes you thrive as an employer is providing talent with challenges and tools so they can achieve personal growth.
🔵 How do you maintain this golden ratio? What are the management challenges?
The management challenges are relatively small. Most of the management at Oxylabs has a technology background, so they have faced similar challenges and know both inefficiencies and best practices. Specifically, in engineering teams, we thrive in a feedback culture. We listen to people, help them remove any roadblocks, and welcome all internal initiatives.
This lets us make fast decisions and allows pivoting from one technology to another if engineers are looking for a change of pace. Some examples might be switching from PHP to Golang, React.js to Node.js, Python or Django to Fast API. The best thing is the absence of a lengthy approval process – in most cases, only the Project Manager’s or Tech Lead’s approval is needed before an engineer can change the tech they’re working with, as long as it will do its job and is stable.
🔵 And what about quality & customer satisfaction? What part does it play in product development?
Quality and customer satisfaction are interrelated and cannot be separated, as we are a product-led company. At Oxylabs, we employ dedicated teams for parts of the product life cycle. Technology, product metrics, product-market strategy, sales, and all other relevant fields – these are all just pieces of a single puzzle. Our people stand united and motivated to deliver the very best possible product.
It is reflected by our Trustpilot rating of 4.7 with over 300 reviews from paid customers. Since we are led by our product and not necessarily the market, user feedback is crucial. The e-commerce self-service world is harsh, and customers tend to turn away if they are not happy. When thinking about our delivery to the end-user, we always strive to make it as user-friendly as possible.