What SimilarWeb CMO, CTO Have In Common, And What They Don’t

What SimilarWeb CMO, CTO Have In Common, And What They Don’t

by , Staff Writer @lauriesullivan, September 17, 2020

What SimilarWeb CMO, CTO Have In Common, And What They Don't | DeviceDaily.com

SimilarWeb announced the appointment of a CMO and a CTO to its leadership team this week as Kevin Spurway stepped into the role of CMO, responsible for global marketing efforts. Ron Asher became the company’s CTO, leading research and development.

The two have many of the same interests, but they bring very different experiences to Tel Aviv-based SimilarWeb. For example, both had an interest in technology at a very early age, but Spurway took a different path than Asher.

Spurway’s uncle worked as an executive at Wang Computer, which was a tech giant back in the 1980s. “When I was in fourth grade he gave me a tour of their facility in Lowell, Massachusetts,” he said. “I don’t think I had any real understanding of what he did, but to me the products Wang built were like something out of ‘Star Wars’.”

Admittedly, his math skills were never the sharpest, so the journey led him to marketing instead of engineering, he said.

By the time Asher entered grade school he also had a fascination with technology, although computers and software were not accessible. Instead, he built amateur radio receivers and walkie-talkies.

By the time he entered high school, he was already programming. “I still keep old punch cards of my COBOL project as a memento,” he said. “Being a CTO at SimilarWeb fulfills my desire to lead in technology and business.”

Delving deeper into what makes these executives tick, Inside Performance connected with both executives to learn more about their hobbies and goals for the year. Excerpts from the interviews follow.

Inside Performance:  Kevin, what is the best piece of advice you were given throughout your career and who gave it to you?

Kevin Spurway:  A professor and mentor of mine back in college advised me to find a career that I could be passionate about. It took me a couple of false starts to find what that was, but it was great advice to follow.

If you can build a career in a space you’re passionate about, it makes it fun to go to work every day.

IP:  Do you have time to read fiction or nonfiction? If yes, what are you reading, and how might it relate to your profession?

Spurway:  I’ve always loved reading, especially about history. Right now, I’m in the middle of Ron Chernow’s biography of Ulysses S. Grant, who won the Civil War for the Union and is one of America’s most underrated presidents. There are many lessons to be learned from Grant’s unwavering moral character and steady, persistent approach to leadership.

IP:  Do you have hobbies outside of work? If yes, what are they?

Spurway:  I have three young children, and they are where I spend the majority of my free time. Also, like my colleague Ron, I enjoy the visceral experience of driving — fast! I have managed to combine those two interests by owning one of the world’s fastest Estate Cars. In the U.S. they are known as station wagons and are incredibly unpopular, so my choice of vehicle is quite unusual.

IP:  What brought you to SimilarWeb and what are your goals for the year?

Spurway:  As a marketer, I know the pain of flying blind when it comes to understanding the digital behavior of customers, competition, and audience generally. The internet is like a big black box.

SimilarWeb is like turning on a light. It’s a real privilege to market a product that can create so much insight and impact for customers.

My goal is to significantly expand the universe of people who recognize SimilarWeb and understand what our product can do. That, in turn, will help drive our growth. 

IP:  What were your plans in getting a law degree at Harvard, and how do you use the degree today?

Spurway:  Even in law school, I always knew I wanted to be in technology in some capacity. For a while, I thought that would be as a lawyer doing VC work or working in-house, but my career developed differently.

Today, as CMO, I feel like my legal experience helps me craft messaging and use language with precision, and it also gives me a leg up in diverse areas that touch CMOs — everything from contract negotiation with vendors to data privacy.

IP:  Ron, what is the best piece of advice you were given throughout your career, and who gave it to you?

Ron Asher:  My first manager and mentor advised me to rely on talent more than experience. It has proven to be right with many situations and with every team that I have been fortunate to lead.

IP:  Do you have time to read fiction or nonfiction? If yes, what are you reading, and how might it relate to your profession?

Asher:  I enjoy reading about technologies that are not related to my job, but more in line with my hobbies like automobiles, autonomous machines, the production of complex material like Graphene, or clean production of hydrogen.

Essentially, great ideas in one domain can inspire breakthroughs in totally different domains. For example, I helped a friend develop a program that measured similarity of genomes. Eventually, it inspired an idea of how to create efficient data deduplication.

IP:  Do you have hobbies outside of work? If yes, what are they?

Asher: I’ve been attracted to sports cars and the technology that drives them from a very early age and I’m fortunate to own and drive one.That experience is very dynamic; it gives you the feeling of freedom and keeps your instincts sharp. I also enjoy intensive workouts, which keep you not only mentally strong, but also physically strong. Lastly, I enjoy gourmet cooking at home with my family — they have also come to enjoy it over these last few months!

IP:  What brought you to SimilarWeb and what are your goals for the year? 

Asher:  SimilarWeb has an amazing team and a business that customers truly appreciate. I’m here to help the engineering team bring unparalleled value to our customers and grow our business.

IP:  Did you grow up in Israel? If not, how did you find your way there?  If you did, how did serving in the military influence your life?

Asher Most of my nine-year army service was in the elite intelligence unit, where we developed a surveillance system that won the lucrative Israel Defense Prize awarded by the President. We attained significant breakthroughs in many computer science domains like distributed and parallel computing, HPC, wireless communication, signal processing and more.

This early career training helped me build the discipline to constantly innovate and to be able to cross any barrier. 

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