For members

5 minute read • updated August 29, 2018

How the Guild works with members

There is a real need for moral, intellectual, and economic leadership in this area, and the Guild members are committed to providing that leadership.

Guild members commit themselves to public leadership on the ethical use of data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. The Data Guild offers a new way for individuals to participate and benefit in the creation of new products and services that make a positive difference in the world.

Members are owners and designers of the Guild as an organization. They are broadly empowered to define and improve its operations, business, and brand. While some members will naturally be more active or passive in their involvement with the Guild, every member is expected to view the Guild as a collective project — not simply as a source of employment.

The Guild provides its members with a balance of market-rate compensation, income stability and benefits, upside exposure to a portfolio of equity, and agency. While it is not the best vehicle for reaching the extremes in any of these categories, it is unusual in offering significant value across all of these factors.

The Guild engages only in business that is aligned with its mission and values. The Guild expects that members will care about the substance and impact of their work, not just its technical content.

Collective Equity

Our equity arrangements are key to the structure of the Guild. Members share in the realized equity gains that the Guild receives in proportion to the number of shares they have.

The Guild acts as an equity investor, receiving returns when those investments pay off. Members accrue fully-vested shares in the Guild’s entire portfolio, exposing members to success held-in-common.

These are not stock options with complicated, negotiated vesting schedules; rather these are shares that equate to member ownership of liquidity events. Shares are transparently allocated as follows:

  • Guild members do not receive shares for the first three months of their membership; this window may be waived in the case of new members who have been closely involved in Guild activities prior to induction.
  • After that, each member receives a share allotment every month, at a level determined by membership level. All members at the same level receive the same allotment every month.
  • When liquidity events occur, members receive profits in proportion to their current, accumulated share level. These payouts are determined by share accumulation only, irrespective of individual contribution to a given project and member tenure.
  • Members retain shares after they leave the Guild, though they do not accumulate new shares.

Guild shares have a natural inflation — new shares are created each month and allocated to existing Guild members according to the above schedule. This means that the relative distribution of shares will shift naturally over time. Shares never expire, but each share is naturally diluted over time. Existing members will maintain their pro rata through new share creation and allocation (weighted by level), and departed members will be gradually diluted.


Prospective members typically go through a period as a consultant to at least one active Guild project to ensure fit. We offer membership to those interested in joining the Guild on a more permanent basis, but are also open to continuing to work with successful candidates as a part-time consultant if preferred.

We seek out “T-shaped” people for membership — folks who have a broad range of interests and one (or more) areas of particular expertise. We work together to move people onto the projects and roles that best fit their skills and interests.


In designing our special approach to compensation, our guiding principle is creating a compelling offering that ultimately helps members live more fulfilling lives. We design backwards from that.

Guild members are salaried employees of the Data Guild.

They receive compensation and benefits as full-time or part-time employees, possibly with appropriate differences dictated by their location of residence. The greatest benefits are those around which the Guild was formed: community, learning, shared growth and development and the potential to have global impact as a group. Members can be either full-time or part-time, spending at least half time working with the Guild. While all members receive benefits, Guild governance votes and board participation are reserved for full-time members.

Salary and Levels

Salary is important and is part of ensuring a reliable standard of living. We aim to pay a fair market salary, but we do not try to compete with large tech companies in this regard. Salary is dictated by membership level, possibly adjusted for cost of living and local conditions (differing health care environments, for example). All Guild members receive full benefits, including health insurance.

New members are brought in at the appropriate level for their experience and ability. Initial leveling and promotion are performed by a committee of existing Guild members.

Code of Conduct

The Guild requires all members to conform to the Guild Code of Conduct. This Code is itself a living document, regularly reviewed by the Guild membership and updated as necessary, which stresses the fundamentals of mutual respect.


Newly graduated, with little or no post-graduate professional experience. May require close supervision from a more senior member when performing even well-scoped tasks.


Some professional experience and demonstrated ability, able to perform well-scoped engineering and design tasks independently.


Significant professional experience. Demonstrated ability in their field, competence in self-directed learning, able to interpret requirements independently, well-developed small and distributed team skills.


Extensive professional experience, including excellent demonstrated technical ability and/or leadership. Whether manager or IC, clear ability to improve team performance and raise the level of others’ work.


An operator who leads in all ways, personally and professionally. Able to perform with excellence and creativity in their domain, and to own an entire project or a key function. Certainly an excellent communicator, and a skilled and experienced leader.


Principals make things happen - products, opportunities, IP, value. They reflect the best qualities of broad curiosity and deep niche experience in a particular field. Their contributions help the Guild grow and expand in often unexpected ways.


A recognized leader in their field, with extensive track record and level of accomplishment. Clear ability to deliver non-commodity, and even partner-level value.


The overall leaders of the Guild, who specifically place the day-to-day needs of the Guild first and who are most responsible for its growth and strength as a business, an institution, and a community.

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