"My mission as a CEO is to make sure that the employees at Darrow are 100% into telling their own life story.”
Evyatar Ben Artzi, Darrow's co-founder and CEO, explains that if each Darrower lives a true and authentic version of themselves, the team will be stronger and only then could their mission be accomplished.
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I want to understand Darrow better.
We were looking at this world where a lot of legal violations existed, issues where companies were harming a lot of people by doing something illegal. We said, "How many cases are there that are never detected and never reach court?" It shocked us. We said, "We should change the way that we're thinking about this." I met Elad, Co-founder and COO at Darrow, in law school. Then we got to that position where we were thinking about the same problems.
Was this in the context of starting a company?
No. I really wanted to be a public attorney. We did have some thoughts about the world of tech and how law wasn't progressing enough. But we both went to clerk for the same Supreme Court justice. We both took the bar and worked as lawyers.
Then we brought a whiteboard into our office. We started looking at that whiteboard, and we would see many cases a day and we would dismiss most of them. But we saw there were a lot of legal violations that never got to court. We started drawing the problems on the whiteboard.
Once we met Gila, our CTO, we understood this was a problem of intelligence gathering. She said, "I like this idea because it's going to a social impact place." We got connected over ideology. We understood that there may be a technological solution. It was this data pipeline that allowed us to find new information about cases that were never brought to court. Then the first thing that we saw was this huge data breach in Israel that no one sued over.
Why is that?
We thought people were not seeing the information. Then later on, we learned that people were just seeing bits and pieces of it. No one's shouting a coherent, factual story, saying, "This company had a data breach on this date. And that's wrong because of that law. And therefore, it should be sued." Combining all that information together, getting to one factual story that people could actually read and take action on, that was the problem. It was finding a lot of information, clustering it together to find an event, and then understanding what was the legal value of that specific event.
Where is Darrow headed?
We didn't want to be another legal tech company. We didn't want to make attorneys’ day-to-day lives more efficient. We wanted to bring justice to the world. The vision for us is creating a world of "frictionless justice." People are electing officials who are making law. That law is supposed to spill over into reality. But to do that, you need enforcement and it's not optimized at all. We want to optimize that justice economy so we actually get all the cases that should be filed in court, to court, and get them resolved as fast as we can.
The mission for Darrow is to find every legal violation and resolve it. The method that we're using is building a data platform for lawyers to source new cases, share them inside the firm, and then take them to court and act upon them.
The major thing that we discovered is that you need to underwrite these cases. You want to tell attorneys “this is the damage caused to people”, “this is the probability of success in court based on previous case law”, and “this is what you're going to make in some probability”. If you show that to attorneys and you get them enough cases, they can make their model more stable and bring in a steady stream of litigation.
Where's the impact side, going back to Gila's motivation?
The north star for Darrow is the value we bring to victims. We want to make it so that victims of illegal action get back what it is that was taken from them. The way to quantify that in a capitalistic society is money. Once we get the case to court, then we also help the law firm build their case and get it resolved as fast as possible.
What is the north star for you as CEO?
We thought about a company that was going to be human-centric in the sense that our mission in the world would be to find every legal violation and resolve it. Why do you want to bring justice to the world? It's because you think that with justice, people could be themselves. They could be the authors of the life story that they're telling.
We want to help victims of illegal actions resolve their problems and live the life that they want. But we also want our team to tell their life stories. I think my mission as a CEO is to make sure that the employees at Darrow are a hundred percent into telling their own life story. They're authentic. They bring themselves to work. They live a life that they're happy about. If that's true, then I think everything will be true: from sales to product. Everything would be amazing if everyone at Darrow felt that they could be their real self.
How do you measure that KPI?
It's hard to find one. When we tried to quantify it in the first iteration here, we asked employees, "Would you recommend Darrow as a place of work to a friend?" We need to discuss our culture and make sure that people from within are building it. We want every Darrow value to be manifested by the employees. We want people to build what it is that we're doing here so they feel ownership of culture.
I think a lot of the time, culture is discussed as this leadership issue. We don't believe that. We could decide about a lot of other things as executives at Darrow, but we can never decide anything about culture without everyone that's involved being a part of the decision. We want everyone to bring their own story into the Darrow story.
I want to learn more about you.
I was born and raised in Israel. I grew up in Herzliya, but actually in the nearby kibbutz, Galil Yam. I was an outsider kid in the kibbutz. The differences between the places that I grew up in made me think about social structures very early on. After my father retired from the army, we went back home to the city. You would think everyone would accept you as part of it. But people felt like, "You're from the kibbutz." I understood that an outsider position was something I would hold for a long time.
Then I went to the army. I was part of the founding team of a unit called Rimon. Later on, I fell in love with law. Law had that promise of authorship of your own life story. Information technology had the same kind of promise at that time. It took me a few months to see that because of the interference of capital, both promises were not real. Law was being controlled, and still is controlled, by capital. A lot of the people who don't have enough money just don't get whatever it is that seems to be justice for them. I wanted to use tech to build up law to make good on its promise of helping people be the authors of their own life story.
How would others describe you in a few words?
For Darrowers, it would be weird. But I'm also a hopeless romantic. I believe in what we're doing from within. I’m someone who’s susceptible to being disappointed when something bad happens and being extremely happy when something good happens.
Michael Matias, Forbes 30 Under 30, is the author of Age is Only an Int: Lessons I Learned as a Young Entrepreneur. He studies Artificial Intelligence at Stanford University, while working as a software engineer at Hippo Insurance and as a Senior Associate at J-Ventures. Matias previously served as an officer in the 8200 unit. 20MinuteLeaders is a tech entrepreneurship interview series featuring one-on-one interviews with fascinating founders, innovators and thought leaders sharing their journeys and experiences.
Contributing editors: Michael Matias, Megan Ryan