A Statement from Jacob McKean

I’d like to start off by saying what I should’ve said earlier: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that anyone has ever had to face harassment at Modern Times. No one should ever have to be traumatized at work, and it guts me that people have under my watch. I take full responsibility for that. My heart aches for anyone who came to work for us—full of hope for the career they expected to have with us—only to have that experience marred by harassment. That is truly awful, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart to anyone who has had that experience. I also apologize to all of our staff and fans who rightly expect so much better from us. You’ve invested your hearts and souls into this place, and I am so sorry to have let you down in this way.


I also want to address a specific incident in which I played a role. About a year ago, I had a contentious interaction with an employee via Slack that badly missed the mark. It was a personal and professional failure, and I take full accountability for that. A brave group of MT employees helped me see how I had come up short, which allowed me to overcome my defensiveness around this interaction. I spoke directly to the employee involved, and I apologized personally and profusely. That apology was accepted, and the conversation ended on friendly terms. I then apologized to all MT staff for the interaction and my subsequent handling of it, and I left the door open indefinitely for future dialogue on the subject. 


I mention these two things together because they both need to be addressed urgently and publicly, and because they speak to my role as the Founder and CEO of Modern Times. There are aspects of that role that have played to my strengths and others, quite obviously, that have not. I have been in the process of changing my role for the past 4 years, stepping back from the things I’m not good at and trying to focus more on the things I do well. Part of that involved stepping away from day-to-day management and focusing more on planning the company’s future. Planning was not something we had done a lot of in the past, preferring instead to take opportunities as they presented themselves and thus growing at a breakneck pace. Under-resourced and understaffed, that process led to burnout for me and many others at MT, and it contributed to the corrosion of the internal culture we’d worked so hard to build.


Clearly, we still have a long way to go in order to get to where we need to be. To that end, we’re taking the following steps immediately:

  1. I am stepping down from my role as CEO, and we will begin a formal search for new company leadership. In order to navigate us out of this extremely difficult moment, we need leadership with the skill and experience to handle it effectively. It's time for a change.
  2. Today, we parted ways with an employee that was named in an online report last week. While this portion of that particular investigation process is closed, we are still continuing to work through the next steps in order to take additional action as needed. 
  3. Changing our reporting procedures for harassment from an internal process to an external, anonymous, 3rd party process. It is now incredibly obvious that the process we have had for reporting harassment has not made people feel safe.
  4. Conducting bystander training and enhanced anti-harassment training for all-staff, in addition to the current biennial sexual harassment training.
  5. Prioritizing the hiring of the previously committed to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Manager. Clearly, we are in over our heads here, and we need help and expertise. This is in addition to the deeper focus on training and education mentioned above, including our upcoming anti-oppression training, not in place of it.  

These are the steps I can announce today, but they represent just the beginning of where we go from here. I sincerely apologize again for all of the hurt this has caused, both internally and externally, and I am committed to healing it, whatever that takes.