our culture

Lots of companies talk about wanting to hire a great team, build a great product, or “change the world.” And of course, we want these things too!

But since everyone says they want those things, we know we need more than just words to help you understand why our culture is different. So before we start talking philosophy, here are a few specific, concrete things Modulate does differently which might interest you:

Hiring with minimal bias. We go out of our way to avoid biasing demographic information during hiring - including using our own voice-changing technology to transform the voices of each applicant during phone interviews. Building an equitable and inclusive team is deeply important to us, and steps like this help us ensure our subconscious biases don’t get in the way.

Pay transparency. As part of our commitment to transparency and equity within the team, every team member at Modulate is able to view the compensation of every other role. (We say “role” rather than “team member” because we know individual team members may have different risk tolerances, and so some folks might prefer a bit more cash over a bit more equity. As such, we offer flexibility to individuals and don’t reveal their specific choice; but we do transparently share which options someone in that role will be choosing among!) As Modulate evolves, we’ll continue sharing any changes just as transparently, to ensure everyone understands their own opportunities for growth within the organization!

Hybrid work. As a small startup, we’re big advocates of flexibility, but also big beneficiaries of the collaboration and innovation that’s only possible through in-person work. We’ve worked with our team to find the best balance, and landed today on hybrid work. We all come into the office for at least a few core hours on synchronized days (Monday/Tuesday/Thursday) to ensure we’re all there together; and each employee chooses whatever works best for them on Wednesday and Friday. Of course, we also make a commitment to continually check in with the team and re-evaluate this approach, and anticipate that as we grow, individual teams may settle into different strategies depending on their need for in-person collaboration and cross-team communication. To learn more about how we think about hybrid work, check out our blog post!

Acknowledging different styles with “Dex” entries. Each member of the team completes a simple profile within an internal tool we’ve affectionately coined the Modulate Pokedex, or simply “Dex.” These entries share context about each individuals preferred style for giving and receiving feedback, the best time of day for them to join meetings, how they feel about being interrupted mid-workstream, and much more. You can see a snapshot of our CEO’s Dex page below, showcasing some of his preferences around scheduling and how he organizes work.

Recognizing limitations with “User Guides.” A “User Guide” is a document designed to educate others about what it’s like to work with you and how they can get the best results when collaborating with you. It’s a document that requires candid acknowledgement of one’s own limited perspective; and should provide not only tips and guidance for your colleagues to ‘avoid’ your weaknesses, but also to teach them how best to provide you feedback to help you grow! To read an example user guide, check out our CEO’s user guide here.

Leadership growth. Every two weeks, our leadership team hosts an hour-long conversation for anyone interested, in which they discuss topics like where our culture pillars came from; how to build an effective hiring and onboarding process; or even sharing lessons from fields like psychology and behavioral economics that can help take your work to the next level. We also host additional conversations monthly covering the broader evolution of the gaming industry, as well as regularly inviting in leaders from around the industry to share their own experiences and give our team a broader range of mentors to learn from.

Our Cultural Philosophy

While hopefully the above context is helpful, it’s also important to understand what our ultimate vision is for the culture - what are we striving for? In order to answer these, we define "our value facets”, which are listed along with simple taglines below in alphabetical order. The intent of these facets is not exactly to be unambiguous, but rather to call out the things we consider most important to protect and cultivate within our culture. These facets may sometimes collide, but that’s ok - we use that as an opportunity to recognize an important discussion that should involve as much of the team as possible, and this gives us the ability to constantly check ourselves against these ideals to see how we’re doing.

Our value facets are:

What makes accrual so great?
Too many companies treat their employees as “cogs”, expecting one size to fit all or simply not appreciating the substantial effort each employee puts in to make the company a success. At Modulate, we’re acutely aware that our team is made of people, and that real incusivity takes WORK, and we dedicate real effort and resources towards investing in our people – both in terms of helping folks grow, but also making sure each team member feels included, respected, and empowered to do their best work here.
Why isn't accrual for everyone?
Many folks don't put in the work necessary to appreciate other perspectives, check their biases, and truly support their team. Sometimes, this looks like that person just being a jerk. In other cases, it comes from someone who may simply not be aware of how their behavior hurts their teammates, or Modulate's overall ability to succeed. To be clear, it's worth emphasizing that the best Modulators aren't afraid to speak up about their preferred work style, differing perspectives, or atypical situations; and are absolutely right to ask, and expect, their colleagues to respect those differences. The trick is recognizing that each of those requests does cost something to others - not just time or money, but often their own mental welfare or their own feeling of being supported and included at Modulate. So the best Modulators discuss these issues from a place of collaboration, with the aim to find approaches that balance their needs, the needs of their colleagues, and the needs of Modulate as an organization, while those who struggle to adopt this collaborative mindset, or who view those with different perspectives as adversaries to defeat, will not be a fit here.

What makes autonomy so great?
At Modulate, Autonomy means that your manager recognizes that you have context and expertise that they don’t. So rather than trying to tell you how to solve a problem, your manager will work closely with you to make sure you understand why they consider this problem important; and then you’ll be given free reign to figure out the best way to solve things. Ultimately, that freedom makes work more fun; lets you have a wider impact; helps you learn faster; and frequently produces genuinely better results as well!
Why isn't autonomy for everyone?
That freedom cuts both ways. While your manager won’t stifle your creativity or novel ideas, that also means you are accountable for figuring out the right thing you should be doing. Your manager won’t restrict you if you have amazing ideas about what to do – their job is just to judge whether you can be trusted with the autonomy we grant you. *Your* job is to leverage that freedom in thoughtful ways, and ask questions to make sure you're working in useful directions! Those who take 'autonomy' to simply mean that whatever they think is right, is necessarily best, won’t be able to be successful here.

What makes net impact so great?
Few people, if any, actually aspire to do evil; but as companies grow and optimize ever more eagerly for profit, they often tend to enter more and more 'evil' territory, or at the very least gamble with developing technologies and systems that could easily be turned to evil, without putting in proper safeguards because of the short-sighted impact on the bottom line. Modulate is a place for people who want to do Something Else Which Is Not That.
Why isn't net impact for everyone?
Tech has consequences. The more impactful our work is, by definition, the more consequences it can have. That means that the more successful we are, the more we’ll need to constantly be considering the ways our actions, our brand, and our products could be misused, misinterpreted, or otherwise negative for society. For many folks, getting a brilliant idea shot down because of our inability to mitigate the risk can be painful and demotivating; Modulate is best suited for those who will instead feel energized, even if it’s their own project being shot down, knowing that they can trust that the work they do complete is being determined with genuine prosocial care and thought. And importantly, that also includes recognizing that *inaction* is also a choice, and that achieving good outcomes sometimes requires paying some cost. Folks at Modulate should be comfortable with the idea that some ethics questions are hard and won't have clear right answers; but that they'll always get a chance to weigh in on the conversation.

What makes personal growth so great?
There are few, if any, people in the world who are able to truly master any skills entirely on their own. For most of us, we need support in the form of feedback. So the good news is that, if you’re looking to improve yourself, your colleagues at Modulate will support you passionately be helping you identify ways to grow.
Why isn't personal growth for everyone?
Everyone agrees, in principle, that they’d like to always be improving. But the truth is that constantly giving and receiving feedback is exhausting. We know that for many, sometimes it’s nice to just bask in a successful project without feeling the need to ask “how could I have done even better?” The most successful Modulators, though, are those who find the act of receiving critical feedback energizing, not simply those who treat it as “eating their vegetables.”

What makes trajectory so great?
We understand that you have your own goals. Some of you might be looking to grow with Modulate for the next twenty years; others might be using us as a stepping stone in order to eventually create their own startup one day, or to develop their skills to take to another organization down the road. We strongly support all of this – just as we get value from you being at Modulate, so do we want to make sure that Modulate contributes to your own trajectory. This means you can be open about your own long-term goals, whether or not they tie directly into Modulate, and you’ll benefit from a community of energetic colleagues constantly pushing you to keep moving forward. It also means we’ll respect and support you if you decide to move on, and advocate for you as best we can even as we’ll surely be sad to see you go.
Why isn't trajectory for everyone?
Success isn't graded on a curve. If you’re truly serious about meeting a goal you’ve set for yourself, you’ll need to unlearn many defensive habits we develop from a young age, starting with removing phrases like “but I tried my best” or “but I couldn’t possibly have seen this coming” from your vocabulary. It’s difficult and often unpleasant to seriously treat every instance of missing your goals as an obligation to learn and grow, but successful Modulators would much prefer to endure that unpleasantness now to ensure they have the tools to improve themselves and plan around their limitations that will actually see them through to their objectives.

What makes transparency so great?
Transparency is great for the obvious reason that you’ll have access to the information you care about most. Trying to understand your growth opportunities with the company? Start by checking out our transparent compensation plans for all the roles across the company; and if you have further questions about the speed we’ll be growing the team or how you personally are doing on that trajectory, we’ll be candid with you there too. Same thing goes for how Modulate itself is doing – we’ll keep the whole team in the loop if we ever find ourselves in a tough financial situation, and be proactive in sharing details as we contemplate team growth, new funding rounds, or an IPO or acquisition.
Why isn't transparency for everyone?
Transparency isn’t just about upper management sharing information about the company. It’s also about every employee being expected to be proactive in sharing the work that they are doing and having conversations – even difficult ones about their own mistakes – out in the open so the entire team can benefit and learn from them. Many folks find it uncomfortable to admit their errors to their team, or even to discuss a question in a public slack channel instead of a DM. We understand where these folks are coming from, and will coach those who struggle at finding comfort here, but individuals who continuously try to hide the bad and only share the good, or even simply too afraid of ‘spamming’ colleagues to bring up any new ideas in the first place, will quickly find themselves struggling to work effectively with colleagues who are able to use the benefits of Transparency to iterate and innovate faster.

Any questions? Email us at contact@modulate.ai and we'll get back to you as soon as possible!