Abzu Illustration - Abzoids and Abzu culture

The Abzu handbook.

"It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this."

Welcome to Abzu!

The Abzu handbook captures the essence of what it means to be an Abzoid.

This handbook is a guide of the values and practices that define our culture and work ethic, rather than a detailed manual of operations. If you’re looking for information on daily operational tasks, reach out to any Abzoid.

Abzu’s story and mission:

Ready to transcend black-box AI and ordinary analytics?

Founded in 2018, Abzu builds trustworthy, explainable AI to accelerate pharma R&D.

Our proprietary explainable AI is the cornerstone of our approach. Combined with our in-house scientific expertise, we accelerate the development of new, innovative drugs.

"Abzu" in Sumerian cuneiform

“Abzu” is an Ancient Sumerian word meaning “subterranean water,” with an additional religious context of “the source of everything.”

Our philosophy:

Innovation thrives at Abzu, because we build on the pillars of Transparency, Honesty, and Autonomy.

We’ve evolved from a self-managing model, but the spirit of responsibility, accountability, and egalitarianism remains vibrant within us.

Our structure supports a dynamic environment where roles and responsibilities adapt to meet the needs of our teams and clients.

We build trust and excellence by living our core values.

Our commitment to these core values shapes our approach to innovation and collaboration.


We conduct ourselves in an open, clear, and accountable manner, while respecting the sensitivity of information.


We speak our mind and are always true to our own selves, which leads to alignment and commitment. We do not lie.


We empower Abzoids to independently act and make decisions that align with personal, team, and company goals.

Two key processes at Abzu.

Processes should strengthen “power with” vs. “power over.”

At Abzu, we strive to only document necessary processes. Two key processes you should be aware of are the advice process and conflict resolution.

Advice: How we handle decisions.

The advice process enables decisions to be made at the most appropriate levels, ensuring agility and responsiveness.

At the very basic level, the advice process means communicating your proposal for change to the people that you think will be affected by it. The advice process is quick and easy to use, and only a few considerations are needed:

  • The bigger the consequence of the decision, the more people (and from a more representative cross section) you should involve.
  • Seek out expert opinions.
  • Don’t seek consensus; seek a good, sound decision.
  • Consider how hard it is to reverse the effects of your decision.
  • Remember that you are only getting advice. Advice can be disregarded, and it is fully in your right to do so.
  • You choose who to involve in the advice process. This means that you are entrusted to look for valuable inputs. Be sure to challenge your normal “echo chamber” in the process!

Conflict resolution: How we handle disagreements.

We encourage a culture where tensions or conflicts are brought to the surface. This means that we handle conflict as a way to reach understanding, inspire creativity, and learn about our differences.

At Abzu, we have the following process for people in conflict:

  • First, sit together and try to sort it out privately.
  • If you can’t find a solution agreeable to all parties, nominate a colleague you trust to act as a mediator. The mediator doesn’t impose a decision. Rather, they support the participants in coming to their own solution.
  • If mediation fails, convene a panel of topic-relevant colleagues. Again, the panel is not intended to impose a solution, but to support the participants in coming to their own solution.

Feedback: Give and receive often.

A cornerstone of our culture, feedback is both a tool for affirmation and a means for constructive evolution.

We encourage regular feedback as a pathway to personal and professional growth, understanding its form may vary to meet individual and collective needs.

Feedback also helps you navigate and understand what you contribute and how you collaborate with others. It should never be used to put someone down or assert dominance.

We have not found a single best method for feedback, and we think this is because giving and receiving feedback is a very personal experience.

Because what is right for one person might not be well received by another, we are not working to define a feedback process. Giving well-meant feedback is always a step in the right direction.

Remember that feedback can be:

  • A quick remark at the end of a meeting, so remember to listen.
  • A long discussion with a colleague, so remember to schedule time with each other.
  • A sensitive topic, so remember to be kind.
  • Occasionally sparse, so remember to ask for feedback.

Welcome to Abzu!

We’re glad you’re here.

As we continue to grow and adapt, our processes and practices will evolve, but our commitment to Transparency, Honesty, and Autonomy will remain constant.

This handbook is a living document, reflecting our journey as a team dedicated to redefining the landscape of AI and drug discovery.

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