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Employee Spotlight: Ethan Yetton

Hi, I’m Ethan.

I'm the Corporate IT Manager for Harmonix and I’ve been here for the past five-and-a-half years. Basically what that means is that I’m one of the main people who keeps the day-to-day tech of Harmonix running. Other folks handle the scary sounding backend stuff with servers and switches and I’m the primary “IT person” – I ask you if the power cable is connected and if you’ve tried rebooting. Actually, it’s a bit more involved than that, but a lot of it is really boring to explain. Let’s just say if anything goes wrong with your hardware, software, accounts, or licenses, I’m the person helping you. Also I’m the person who sends out long emails and Slack posts riddled with John Cena GIFs. 

Currently I’m not “on” any projects, but I interact regularly with all the teams in the company, making sure they have what they need to as creative and efficient as they can and troubleshooting any issues that come up. 

Prior to coming to Harmonix, I did a number of years as an IT tech at Tufts University, primarily supporting faculty and staff in the School of Engineering, but also jumping in regularly to handle other cases that were “weird” or that required “that guy in the NIN shirt who’s too stubborn to quit”. Prior to that I was a research assistant at a Brandeis University neuroscience lab. I ended up coming to Harmonix when I left Tufts, spent some time at Amazon, and had a friend from my Tufts days reach out to say that Harmonix was looking for an IT person who could pretty much hit the ground running, since at the time “Rock Band 4” development was starting to pick up. 

My proudest accomplishment up until about three weeks ago was managing to get a very early version of “Rock Band 4” (an alpha game with beta firmware and prototype instruments… phew!) up and running in a mostly-stable fashion on an outdoor stage at E3 2015 and at a ticketed nighttime event at the Mayan in downtown LA. That was… stressful, but the results were awesome. 

But now it has to be “transitioning the entire company from onsite to work-from-home in the most frantic 72 hours of my life”. I slept in the office the Monday night before we flipped the switch, stayed all day Tuesday, and on Wednesday all of Harmonix began their first full day of remote work. The two-and-a-half weeks since have been incredibly hectic.  We’ve been remotely supporting 110+ people across at least four states and watching rush-order packages fly all over, making sure everything gets to the people who need it as quickly as possible and then troubleshooting any issues that come up.  It’s a lot, but it’s going well so far, and I know folks here are appreciative of the effort.  And, honestly, everyone is stepping up in their roles to make this entire transition as painless as it can be.

What is your favorite Harmonix game and why? 

This is a tough one. I have very fond memories of confusing everyone in the mall when I was, like, the first person to walk out of there carrying the original “Guitar Hero” box, but I made a lot of longstanding friendships due to “Rock Band” game nights. Can I call it a tie?  It’s a tie. The original Guitar Hero and the first Rock Band.

What Rock Band instrument do you play?

Guitar or bass. I have zero rhythm, so drums were never really my thing (I actually had a Rock Band dev, once I started working here, try to show me the correct way to hold drumsticks), and anyone who’s ever heard me sing knows why that’s a bad idea. Though a couple of times during play sessions Nine Inch Nails songs that only I knew, since I’m a superfan, would come up so I’d be a team player and give it a shot. 

What's your favorite Rock Band song of all time?

I’ve always had a soft spot for “Colony of Birchmen” by Mastodon.

What’s your work from home set up like?

My Work-From-Home setup has by necessity become “mission control” for Harmonix IT.  As you might guess, I’m a computer nerd, so it’s basically a very large monitor, a couple of other devices (laptop, iPad), and lots of lights. Otherwise it’s pretty clean except for a Tom Nook Amiibo to remind me that I’m working to pay off all that debt.  Also, transitioning my desk into an office space meant splurging on a really comfortable (and ergonomic) desk chair.

Is there anything special or fun on your desk?

The only toy on my desk is that Amiibo. Occasionally a John Cena figure rotates in because he’s the most inspirational human being alive. Oh, and my cat (Six, named after the “Battlestar Galactica Cylon) sometimes makes herself an “accessory” by walking across my keyboard.  

If you could trade places with anyone else at Harmonix for a week, who would it be?

Dan Walsh, our Director of Marketing and Communications. So mysterious, so powerful. I want to know what that’s like.

What's your go-to Karaoke Jam? 

Nope! Nope nope nope. Noooooope. Karaoke is a hard “no” for me. I am way too shy and my voice is way too rough to ever subject anyone to that. And, believe me, people have tried.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Flight seems really cool and ever since I was a kid I’ve had dreams of being able to fly, but as someone who lives near, and commutes into, Boston teleportation is my “grown up” superpower preference. Let me avoid the MBTA and highway traffic altogether.

Do you have any secret talents?

It’s not really “secret” or even a “talent”, but I’m a fifth-degree Black Belt in Kempo Karate. I’ve been doing that for… a long, long time now.  It keeps me grounded, while also letting me push myself in insane ways. On my last test (two years ago now), one of my fingers snapped in half two hours in and I went three more hours with it dangling at an angle. The Urgent Care doctor I went to that evening was not amused. 

What's your favorite or most used emoji on Slack?

My most used emoji is easily :thumbsup:. It’s basically how I sign off of most conversations. Sadly, :middle finger: is right next to it in my recents, which has cause some unfortunate accidents.

What are some of your social media handles you'd like to share w/ the Harmonix community?

A lot of folks know where to find me already, but greeneyedzeke is my handle pretty much everywhere. And if anyone needs an island to visit, my Switch Friend Code is SW-7442-3925-8989.