November 15, 2021

Exclusive: Spectrum Labs will move headquarters from San Francisco to Miami

A bottle of wine on a table

Spectrum Labs will trade Silicon Valley for Miami.

The artificial intelligence-powered content moderation platform is moving its headquarters from San Francisco to Miami in a bid to access a more diverse talent pool, said co-founder and CEO Justin Davis. That, in turn, will help Spectrum build safer online communities for the social networking, dating, e-commerce and gaming companies it serves.

“When you build a dating website or gaming community, you’re hoping to [help people] build positive connections,” Davis said. “Spectrum provides the underlying infrastructure that makes that happen so we can build brighter online communities.”

Spectrum’s trust and safety platform uses AI to detect more than than 40 “toxic” behaviors, such as the use of violent, misogynistic and racist language.

Having employees from a variety of economic and cultural backgrounds makes it possible for Spectrum to detect biased AI algorithms that may not identify behavior or language that could harm underrepresented groups.

Women, Black and Hispanic hires are already underrepresented in tech, but the problem is even worse in machine learning and data science. According to a 2019 report from the AI Now Institute, about 80% of AI professors are men, while just 15% of AI research staff at Facebook and 10% at Google are women. On top of that, only a small fraction of employees at large companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft are people of color.

“If you don’t have a diverse team [building the AI models], then the way you configure and label data – like the way you define definitions of hate speech or abuse – can be skewed,” Davis said.

Davis said Spectrum is also working to bring its technology to diverse startup founders. One way it’s doing that is through its sponsorship of the Inclusion by Design Fellowship started by the Oasis Consortium, a nonprofit with the mission of building a safer and more inclusive internet for all. The fellowship is open to Black, Hispanic and other minority founders, who will be given access to Spectrum’s content moderation platform at a discounted rate.

“Safety, privacy, and inclusion by design are the pillars to build ethics and civility into our digital future,” said Oasis Consortium president and co-founder Tiffany Xingyu Wang.

Despite the headquarters move, Spectrum will remain a remote-first workplace. The company currently has more than 40 employees across 16 states and will continue to consider new candidates in South Florida and beyond. Davis said he’s searching for an office space in the Downtown Miami or Edgewater area, which could be a base for employees who decide to relocate to the area.

“To be able to say we’re building a mission-driven company with the opportunity to move to Miami if you want to – I think that’s a significant competitive advantage for us when we’re hiring,” Davis said.