What it's like to work at the Guild

Our mission

The Data Guild is dedicated to building products, services, and companies that improve the quality of human life and address humanity’s greatest challenges. We believe a world-class community, that is building compelling solutions with strategic partners and incubating differentiated companies, offers a unique approach to creating value in the world.

Artificial Intelligence, fed by pervasive data collection and transformation, will undoubtedly change human society over the coming decades; however, the deployment of this technology could take several different paths. In some futures, panoptic technologies are used to exploit populations and increase social inequality; in others, these powers are used to better understand our world and empower communities to strengthen their social and economic well-being.

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

  • The Guild only engages in opportunities that are aligned with its desire to improve the well-being and resilience of human life.
  • The Guild and its members commit themselves to public leadership on the ethical use of data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
  • The Guild commits itself to transparency about its values and decision-making.

Following from these basic principles, the Guild’s actions and decisions are governed by its membership. How the guild works

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.

Principles

Mutual Respect - The Guild’s strength rests in large part on the diversity of its membership, and it is essential that Guild members treat each other with compassion.

Transparency - The Guild defaults to openness with its members, reserving confidentiality for matters of individual member safety and privacy, as well as legally restricted information.

Sustainability - The Guild operates in a manner designed to promote the peak performance and satisfaction of its members over the long term.

Collective Equity

The Guild’s larger opportunity for shared value comes from the creation of valuable intellectual property, products, and companies that solve important challenges. In this way, 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 your ownership of liquidity events.

All members share in the realized equity gains that the Guild receives in proportion to the number of shares they have. Shares are 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.

Note that 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.

Membership

Guild membership is designed to be long-lasting, though there will be a wide range of tenures. The Guild is cautious and deliberate in bringing on new members at any level, since each new member represents a significant commitment. 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.

At first blush, you may find working with us a bit strange. We work on a range of projects, and these shift over time - sometimes gradually, sometimes rather abruptly. 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. As a member, your voice is important to that process.. You can lead, or you can let others lead, and this can change with every project.

Communication

Good communication is the foundation for success at the Guild. We are a distributed team working on under-specified, exploratory projects, in collaboration with organizations around the world. You should plan to spend significant time keeping others informed of new developments, sharing context, and documenting decisions. We have fun on Slack and in other communication channels, but at the end of the day a big part of each member’s job is making sure that everyone involved on a project - whether other members, contractors, or external collaborators - has the knowledge they need to be productive.

Compensation

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.

Member Obligations

Members are expected to devote the large majority of their professional effort to Guild activities. However, the Guild does not police or outright prohibit other professional commitments, primarily because the Guild recognizes that its members’ other associations can bring value in the long term.

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.

Public Persona

To the maximum extent compatible with the Guild’s reputation and values, members are free to develop their own brand, social media presence, and public profile. While the Guild reserves the right to take action based on members’ public statements, it expects to reserve these actions for extreme circumstances. As a rule, the Guild as a whole hopes to benefit from its members success and prominence, and it defaults to a position of trust in its members.

Mentoring and Training

More senior Guild members are expected to actively help more junior members to develop their technical, communication, and management skills.

Gatherings and Special Interest Groups

Members are expected to actively participate in and are encouraged to lead and plan Guild community events. These can range from ad-hoc, one-off meetings to larger public events to thematic sharing and mentoring around a specific domain (for example, the Engineering Round Table).

Writing and Speaking

Members are encouraged to write and speak about their Guild work in a variety of formats and venues. The only restrictions on this (other than rare situations where the venue conflicts with the Code of Conduct or the Guild’s mission) rest in proprietary IP or customer sensitivities. Guild members are granted wide discretion in how they communicate publicly, and with this comes the responsibility of protecting the Guild’s brand and reputation.

Remote and Distributed Work

Guild members routinely work remotely, and in doing so they must cultivate very strong communication habits. This implies being open and transparent about your availability, reachable on multiple communications channels, and generally taking care in how you’re communicating with Guild peers. It’s not a matter of more comms or lighting up Slack; it’s about the quality and clarity of communications. Done well, remote collaboration frees everyone up to work more efficiently, while giving you options in terms of where you feel you can be at your best (personally and professionally). levels


Apprentice

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.

Junior

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

Full

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.

Senior

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.

Lead

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.

Principal

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. Distinguished

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. Partner

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.