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Relativity

"The vision powering Relativity’s product and UX teams"

Below is an article originally written by Alton Zenon III at Built In Chicago, and published on June 3, 2019. This article is about PowerToFly Partner Relativity. Go to Relativity's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

Without the combined efforts of its product and user experience teams, products would be inefficient, unusable or both. And in the legal world, no one can afford to have a product fail or be overly cumbersome. Relativity understands this idea well, and the teams behind the e-discovery platform it's developing are striving to evolve the company's product, how customers interact with it, and how they advance their own professional skills.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS MURPHY


PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS MURPHY


PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS MURPHY

Relativity

FOUNDED: 2001

EMPLOYEES: 925, around 775 locally

WHAT THEY DO: Relativity provides and maintains a cloud-based solution for storing and analyzing the large volumes of data generated during the discovery processes of litigation, internal investigations and compliance projects.

WHERE THEY DO IT: Chicago

PHILANTHROPIC ARM: Relativity Gives is devoted to giving back to the Chicago community. It donates tens of thousands of dollars to schools each year and offers staff many opportunities to volunteer.

CULTURE IS KEY: From a number of highly varied community resource groups and a dedication to philanthropy to providing opportunities for staff to have some fun, Relativity is adamant about organically strengthening and widening its cultural arms.


Chris Brown, Chief Product Officer

Chris is responsible for charting the company's overall product vision, strategy and roadmap. He also leads the product and user experience teams, in coordination with the tech division, as they work to reach those future-state destinations.

NO BACKPEDALING: Chris is an outdoor athlete and enjoys snowboarding and biking. He plans to stage his own Tour De Iowa and bike across the state over the summer.

How does Relativity's product fit into the ever-changing tech landscape of today?

Relativity sits at the nexus of the major technology transformations of our time: AI, mobility, IoT, security and the public cloud. As every organization goes through their own transformations in these areas, we are working to build a cloud platform to support them. That amounts to a few key areas for us: improving our user experience, providing the most comprehensive end-to-end e-discovery solution, and increasing our platform extensibility to solve other unstructured data challenges beyond e-discovery.

We use key results across each of our areas that align up to our product strategy and company goals.

How do you facilitate cross-team collaboration to help different teams work towards shared goals?

It starts with building the DNA of great sprint teams, complete with a strong, embedded triad of product, engineering and UX leaders working together. We use key results across each of our areas that align up to our product strategy and company goals and have a mix of ceremonies to keep folks informed and involved in debates around shifting priorities.


Brian Hunt, Director of User Experience

In his role, Brian is always thinking of the user and is in charge of leading the vision and strategy behind optimizing their experiences in using Relativity's products.

A TRAVELING ARTIST: Brian has been writing, recording and performing music with a group of his friends since he was in the 5th grade. He has gone on many U.S. and European tours with a band, and traveling with bandmates taught him a lot about facing challenges and celebrating wins as part of a team.

What are some of the challenges your team is presently working to solve?

We're working to reduce redundant code and unnecessary variations and inconsistencies in the UI. We're employing a design system to provide an easy way to build features utilizing reusable components. Once adopted, our user experience will have a uniform, consistent and improved look and feel.

What's a major project you will be working on in the coming months?

Defining the next generation interface for Relativity. We are looking to bring fast, meaningful improvements to the platform while also mapping out an entirely new user experience for our customers.


Cherry Mangat, Senior Product Manager

Cherry is the product lead for the company's case strategy product line, for which she gives customers tools that allow them to organize important details about their cases.

STORY TIME: Cherry loves storytelling and has practiced it in many ways: via blogging, authoring a book and performing stand-up comedy. She said the idea of combining numerous elements to make a compelling narrative translates to managing a product.

How do you work to keep yourself sharp and in-the-know regarding tech and industry trends?

One of the easiest ways is the internal weekly digest that highlights what's happening in our industry. I joined Women In Product, which is great for networking and learning more about product management and tech. I recently took a training workshop on how Google runs its design sprints, which was insightful and fun.

What tools does your team currently use, and how do they enable your team to work efficiently and successfully?

We use JIRA for tracking development work, Aha! for roadmaps, Salesforce for customer feedback, Tableau for metrics, Asana for task management, Slack for chat and many other tools. It can be a little overwhelming initially to use so many tools, but over time I've come to value the integrations between many of them. They help us collaborate and prioritize the most important work, then align it to our top-level business goals and track the outcomes.


Alex Moy, Director of Product Management

Alex works with product managers, designers and engineers to help give life to Relativity's products, with RelativityOne being the center of attention these days.

CARVING OUT LEADERS: Weather permitting, Alex loves to hit the slopes on his snowboard. The sport demands concentration under pressure, courage and becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable — traits he has taken to his role as a leader and ones he encourages his team members to employ in their own work.

What are some non-technical skills you look for in new hires?

I look for candidates that are naturally user- and value-centric in their thinking. I search for candidates that have T-shape skills when it comes to business, design and technical acumen, as well as individuals with outstanding communication and influence skills. I look for values that I believe are key to the best product managers: courageous with a growth mindset, perseverant attitude in the face of challenges, and putting the team first. And I look for candidates who lead with a servant-leader approach.

Every team member has $3,000 to invest in their professional development each year.

What types of professional or career development resources are available at your company?

Full-time team members have $3,000 to invest in their professional development each year. Last year, we coordinated to level up our product management skills as a team. We all bought copies of Marty Cagan's "INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love" and had a weekly book club to discuss our learnings, thoughts, and actions together. Then, the team capped off that learning by going to one of Marty Cagan's workshops together. It was a great experience to learn with and from each other.

Relativity

"LinkedIn alum Mike Gamson named CEO at Relativity"

Below is an article originally written by John Pletz, Senior Reporter at Crain's Chicago Business, and published on June 26, 2019. This article is about PowerToFly Partner Relativity. Go to Relativity's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

Two big questions in Chicago tech just got answered: What's Mike Gamson, one of the city's most seasoned executives and investors, going to do next? What's ahead for Relativity, one of the city's most closely watched, high-growth companies?

Gamson, who left a top job at LinkedIn earlier this year, takes over as CEO of Relativity from founder Andrew Sieja, who will become executive chairman July 1.

Relativity, a maker of document-management software that's used by nearly all the 200 largest law firms in the country, has quietly grown to 1,000 employees. It has one of the largest engineering teams in Chicago and is seen as one of a handful of potential long-term winners and IPO prospects.

The move at Relativity defies an oft-cited weakness of a Chicago tech scene that's still looking to catch up to more established players such as Seattle, Boston and Austin, Texas. Chicago has a limited pool of experienced tech executives who've "seen the movie before" and can step in and guide a promising company to bigger and better things. Gamson, who joined LinkedIn in 2007 but was based in Chicago, certainly qualifies. He oversaw a sales force that grew from a handful of people to more than 5,000 employees in 36 cities around the world, generating more than $6 billion in revenue.

Gamson and Sieja are both humble but successful members of the Chicago tech community who have kept relatively low public profiles. Sieja, a self-taught coder, started a software company, then called kCura, in 2006. "I'll still come to work every day," the 42-year-old says.

Gamson, who joined Relativity's board two years ago, says, "This is Andrew's company. I've been fortunate to have worked inside a company (LinkedIn) where a founder transitioned to executive chairman from CEO and it played out to great success."

Relativity was largely under the radar until four years ago, when Iconiq Capital invested $125 million. The San Francisco-based fund, whose investors include Mark Zuckerberg and Sam Zell, is known as patient capital. But the investment immediately set off chatter about whether Sieja's company was potential IPO material.

Hiring Gamson will only amplify the speculation, although Caroline Xie, a vice president at Iconiq, says, "We spend almost no time talking about exits with our portfolio company partners (including Relativity), and while we know it is important to some investors, we have taken a slightly different view and find it sometimes can conflict with building durable businesses and making decisions for the long term."

Chicago has had few tech IPOs recently, and certainly none of them exploded to the scale of LinkedIn, a social media platform for professional networking and a recruiting tool for companies. It went public in 2011 with a valuation of $4.5 billion and sold to Microsoft five years later for $26 billion when it had more than 10,000 employees.

Gamson easily could have remained in the background as a tech investor after riding the LinkedIn wave from startup to IPO and through the Microsoft acquisition. But the 45-year-old Highland Park native has made it a personal goal to help boost the size and reputation of Chicago's tech community. One way to do that is to build a multibillion-dollar flagship tech company.

The only thing Gamson will say is, "We want to be an enduring company in the constellation of tech companies that matter on a global scale that solve big problems . . . building world-class technology that's interesting to work on."

Sieja also ducks the IPO question. "We're all thinking about the long game."

PIECES FALL IN PLACE

For the past couple of years, Sieja has been assembling an experienced senior management team, the kind that would be needed to both build a much bigger company and win investor confidence. Among the hires are Keith Carlson, chief technology officer, who was a top executive at Amazon Web Services, and Amanda Fennell, chief security officer, who worked at Zurich Insurance, Dell and Symantec.

Sieja, who frequently mapped out the future of his company years in advance and has the sketches to prove it, says he met Gamson by chance a few years ago after an introduction by a mutual friend. Without it, "I don't know if I would have made the decision to do this," he said. "It was a great opportunity."

He says he asked himself, "Am I really the right guy to lead the company indefinitely? I could probably muscle my way through it, but the company is way better served with an experienced, super-competent and charismatic leader."

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, who has invested in Chicago startups with Gamson, calls him "one of the most naturally gifted leaders I've ever worked with. He's always dreamt of being a CEO at some point. Coupled with his personal mission to accelerate the success of Chicago's startup ecosystem, this next play couldn't be a better fit."

Gamson became one of Chicago's most active startup investors over the past several years, largely out of public view. He declines to say how many companies he backed but says he has wound down most of his board commitments to focus on Relativity.

HOW BIG CAN IT GET?

Under Sieja, Relativity has made its mark by having one of the largest technology teams in Chicago. Whether it can become a juggernaut remains to be seen.

Sieja declines to disclose the company's revenue, but it's believed to be in the low nine figures.

Relativity counts nearly all of the 200 largest U.S. law firms as users, as well as big consulting firms, which means it's connected in some way to three-fourths of the 100 largest publicly traded companies.

Sieja says Relativity could triple the size of the business by continuing a move to cloud-based subscription software, getting a bigger share of industry spending on electronic discovery. It also aims to grow beyond the legal business.

Relativity is not only moving from customers' own computer servers to the cloud—it has evolved from pure data intake to more sophisticated analytics fueled by artificial intelligence.

It developed a new product called Trace to spot and prevent problems. Relativity's core product generally has been used to investigate misconduct after the fact. Sieja and Gamson also see opportunities in compliance and surveillance, which can take Relativity beyond law into other industries, such as trading and banking.

Gamson, who is soft-spoken but relentlessly upbeat, doesn't hesitate to sketch a bold vision for the company. "Relativity's mission, to organize data and discover the truth so that others can act on it, is something that the world needs right now."

Sort of the way Chicago needs a breakout tech success.

Relativity

Virtual Lunch & Learn: People Analytics - Featuring Relativity's Chief People Officer

Watch this virtual Lunch & Learn session to hear firsthand from Dorie Blesoff, Chief People Officer at Relativity.

To join the team at Relativity, click here to see all of their available opportunities and don't forget to press 'Follow' to receive custom job matches, event invitations and more!

Relativity

"Relativity names former LinkedIn SVP Mike Gamson as its new CEO"

Below is an article originally written by Gordon Gottsegen at Built In, and published on June 26, 2019. This article is about PowerToFly Partner Relativity. Go to Relativity's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

One of Chicago's biggest tech companies just announced who will take the helm through its next stage of growth.

On Wednesday, Relativity announced that it's bringing in Mike Gamson as its new CEO. Gamson will take on his new role with Relativity starting July 1.

Most recently, Gamson was an executive at LinkedIn, where he led about 5,000 employees across different teams and countries. He worked for LinkedIn from 2007 to 2019, starting as a general manager, then moving on to be VP of sales and then SVP of global solutions. He left the company in February.

But Gamson has also been on the board of Relativity since 2017. The company credits him with helping develop its strategy and advising it on how to address global demand.

Gamson will take over the role of CEO from Andrew Sieja, who founded Relativity and will continue to serve on Relativity's board of directors as executive chairman. The two have an established relationship from working together on the board.

"Working closely with Andrew and the Relativity team over the past two years has given me the unique opportunity to get to know the company's business and team extremely well," Gamson said in a statement. "I couldn't be any more excited for the future of the company and the opportunity I have to help move Relativity ahead to its next phase of growth."

Relativity creates e-discovery software, which is used to find information during legal proceedings like litigation or investigations. Relativity's platform is used by over 180,000 legal professionals and organizations ranging from Fortune 100 companies, top American law firms and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Founded in 2001 as a software consultancy, Relativity started development of its e-discovery platform in 2004 as an internal tool for an international law firm. The company retained the intellectual property rights for the software, which over time evolved into its core offering.

The company rebranded to Relativity from kCura in 2017 to align its name with that of its flagship product.

Besides being a big deal in the legal world, the company also plays a big role in the Chicago tech scene. With about 750 local employees, it's one of the largest tech companies in Chicago.

What's more: In February, Relativity announced it would hire another 300 people by the end of the year. The new hires will likely put Relativity over the 1,000-employee mark.

Beyond its impact on the tech scene, Relativity has also put an emphasis on its role in the city more broadly. It has a philanthropy branch, Relativity Gives, which has donated millions of dollars to Chicago schools over the years.

"It is a tremendous honor to continue my career as CEO of Relativity," Gamson said in a statement. "I look forward to partnering with our employees and our industry to fulfill Relativity's mission."

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