Axial's Growth 100 : Brian McManus

Brian McManus

CEO, Lighthouse eDiscovery

Discovering Growth

Brian McManus’ first interaction with Lighthouse eDiscovery was as a board member. The company provides data storage solutions for clients in involved in litigation, governmental or internal investigations. The company’s west coast beginnings, which date back to 1995, are linked to big regional clients like Eddie Bauer, Starbucks, and Microsoft.

As a partner at a Seattle law firm in the early 90s, Brian went on to work for a client of his in the tech sector, became the CEO of that business and has served in various C-level positions since that time. Among them, Brian ran the largest division at internet services company, Blucora (f.k.a. InfoSpace). He left the organization in 2008. “It was a good time for me to exit the business. I took a few years off and participated on boards and did some nonprofit work before deciding I really wanted to get back into running a business,” says Brian.

By 2011, Lighthouse was looking for someone to help the company evolve from their west coast roots into a national provider. In the years since Brian joined, Lighthouse opened a New York center to balance their workload across the country, and towards the end of 2015, they opened a new operating center in London. They are now servicing clients throughout North America and the European Union.

Growth in Numbers

Brian outlines the keys to their rapid expansion (4x growth over the last three years) beginning with his number one: unparalleled access to talent.

Brian thanks Seattle for a strong talent pool due to its first-mover status in the electronic discovery field. “Seattle is a really talented market from a people perspective,” Brian says. He calls the local workforce highly educated and highly motivated. “There is a history of great companies,” he says pointing to Boeing and Microsoft, Starbucks, and Nordstrom.” I think in large part it’s because of the great people.”

Brian believes that it was his experience finding the right employees that helped Lighthouse get out ahead of competition. “It really started with bringing the right people on board who were great at the technology aspects of the business and then adding some subject matter experts in the eDiscovery field,” he says. “Most of the competition either has one or the other.”

Brian’s second move was to make sure Lighthouse’s infrastructure could handle the data volumes of some of the largest companies in the world. “We brought on platforms that had open APIs and allowed us to build on top of them,” he says. This was important as Lighthouse strived to get ahead of its competition by more discreetly serving the companies and the problems they were having.

Changes Ahead

Brian is still looking for opportunities for expansion. Pharmaceutical, financial services and technology are industries that continue to need a lot of help in this area. “When I look beyond 2016, the industry is going to change quite a bit,” Brian says. “In part because the corporate market is moving to the cloud and looking for more efficient solutions to dealing with data that is in the cloud rather than exporting data out of the cloud.”

To make sure they stay ahead of the curve, Brian is focused on striking relationships with industry leaders such as Microsoft. “[The industry] is going to change quite a bit and I think we’ll be one of the change agents in the industry.”