Imagine playing a 3D game featuring stunning cinematic content and a detailed storyline. Now imagine helping create the tools to make that scenario possible. We spoke to four Austin companies using machine learning and artificial intelligence technology that gamers, companies and charitable organizations can benefit from.
Below, members of their leadership teams shared how they support their company culture as they scale, including investing in professional development and group problem-solving. The data to improve the world, industry by industry, is there. But it’s up to the employees behind the solutions to make the ultimate difference.
What they do: Unity Technologies is a 3D gaming development platform that allows users to access designer tools, collaborate with others and increase workflow efficiency. They also offer products for animators, engineers and edtech professionals to create fully immersive experiences.
One thing that would surprise people about Unity Technologies: Unity actually has a variety of use cases that go beyond gaming. While they’re best known for their roots in that industry, they deliver a real-time 3D development platform, giving users accessible tools to create, operate and monetize experiences for the real-time world. The company’s vision, that the world is a better place with more creators in it, supports the many other industries that use their technology.
One trait all team members share: “Though our team is made up of members from all over the world, I believe we reflect the best aspects of Austin and Texas,” Director of Development Stephen Palmer told us. “We exemplify kindness, respectfulness, a little weirdness and an insatiable appetite for brisket.” Palmer said that the team cares about the success of their users, who are often trying to build their own businesses using Unity technology.
What they do: Personify Corp helps nonprofits and associations fulfill their missions to make the world a better place. They offer collaboration tools, event management solutions and constituent management for YMCAs, JCCs and health and wellness organizations, to name a few.
One thing that would surprise people Personify: The scope of the company’s work. “Our clients are finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, advocating for their profession and industry, and reducing human impact on our climate,” said Vice President of Marketing Teresa Zimmerman. “Our employees are passionate about the organizations that we work with. Many of them volunteer with these groups in their free time.” The Personify marketing team recently held a volunteer day where they each supported an organization in the Austin community by participating in activities like sorting books for children and planting vegetables at a refugee garden.
One trait all team members share: Enthusiasm. They host an annual three-day conference called PersoniFest where they bring together clients, partners and staff from across the country for education, training and thought leadership. The conference takes them about nine months to plan. “It requires that every member of our team roll up their sleeves, take ownership of different parts of the event and live and breathe PersoniFest for the week that we’re on site,” said Zimmerman.
What they do: Smarter Sorting uses machine learning technology to help businesses make the most informed decisions possible regarding what to do with unsold or damaged products. Their services advance their partner’s zero-waste goals, a mission anyone concerned with the environment can support.
One thing that would surprise people about Smarter Sorting: They have converted what would otherwise have been trash into eight houses with Habitat for Humanity. People from across the country played a part in diverting that garbage from the waste stream, making their sustainable mission possible. “It’s always a lovely thought that crosses my mind,” said Senior VP of Operations Katy McIntosh. “Turning trash into houses, y’all.”
One trait all team members share: One of their core values is committing to becoming experts. “We’re all very passionate about continuing education and individual career growth,” said McIntosh. Smarter Sorting has purchased courses for data science development and sponsored several employees’ professional certifications. Leadership often recommends books from their company library and funds attendance to relevant conferences or panels within the community.
What they do: Pushnami provides customers with automated, omni-channel messaging functions so that businesses can efficiently deliver their content to viewers. Used by more than 20,000 global sites, Pushnami delivers more than 10 billion messages per month across web push notifications, mobile app notifications and email.
One thing that would surprise people about Pushnami: According to Head of People Angela Benz, several young adults essentially started their careers at Pushnami. “These folks have now all moved into director positions to manage teams under them, have equity in the company and are building great foundations for their futures,” Benz said. “By allowing our talent to foster and grow with the company, we have created a diverse culture of success and positivity that is contagious across every department. We even have an all-female product team.”
One trait all team members share: “Our entire organization has a passion for maintaining a healthy lifestyle which is encouraged from the top down,” Benz said. “Team members often head to OrangeTheory or yoga classes together, and we’re able to provide a healthy catered lunch Monday through Thursday for our entire team.”