Verbit has continued the bait and switch by pushing an article from April 2021. As part of their pitch, they state that digital reporting has increased 400%.
As usual, this gives the field some serious information. One, whatever they’re basing their numbers on, the original number was likely really tiny. This means digital reporting is likely far smaller than court reporters perceive it to be. How else do you grow something 400%? It’s hardly an indicator of success. If you had 10 digital reporters and now you have 50, you grew 400%. To give some visual context, Stenonymous’s readership spiked to nearly 600% of its August numbers in September 2021. So the growth of this stenographer hobbyist blog blows the entire digital reporting industry out of the water. Right?
Two, the fact that they’re begging stenographers for business tells us all we need to know. Things are not going as planned for them. They need us to accept their business for it to thrive. I’m at the point where I would much rather it be run into the ground and investors get an expensive lesson in handing the reins to an organization that has zero understanding of our industry. But I will change my tune pretty quickly if they take the advice I give in the last paragraph here.
You want to see something crazy? I predicted this two years ago in my article about STTI. A member from a panel of idiots masquerading as experts spoke about how NCRA didn’t adopt voice writing and that exacerbated the shortage. I had this to say:
I’m just going to give myself a pat on the back. I was wrong about one thing though. There are not 20,000 of you, there are likely about 28,000. 28,000 reporters are the iceberg I mentioned in today’s Steno101 press release. Any ship that threatens your livelihood, particularly through deception or marketing, can be sunk pretty quickly if you stick together.
Finally, Verbit’s signature dishonesty continues. In this case, their article’s entire thrust is “stenographers are integral to the system but may not be available.” This tells me they know damn well stenographers are available and that there is an exaggeration and exacerbation of the shortage by companies like US Legal, Veritext, and Planet Depos. They likely also know digital reporting will hurt minority speakers. Digital reporting is likely being propped up by zombie corporations, meaning courts that rely on it will see price spikes.
Digital reporters are dropping digital for steno because they see the writing on the wall. What are the chances the billion-dollar unicorn didn’t figure it out yet?
Let’s face some other uncomfortable truths. If US Legal is saying the machine learning translation of documents, text-to-text, is only about 90%, that means speech-to-text automation is absolutely doomed. Verbit would do much better to create a stenographic editing suite at this point than to continue to try to disrupt a market and a reality that is firmly on the side of stenographic efficiency.
With the kind of investor money Verbit pulled in, it could probably give Stenograph a real run for its money, help us recruit and expand our field, and then sell directly to us until the end of time. Things change. If Stenograph wants to be an ASR company and Verbit wants to be a steno software company, I’ll be the first proud owner of a Verbit stenotype or software. Just give me the choice to turn off ASR features. Until that day, though, whatever happens to Verbit is filed under “not my problem.” But it wouldn’t be surprising if we saw a move like that. Verbit’s founder, Tom Livne, has always come across in the media as someone that has the ability to reassess situations. Though I have certainly taken shots at him and/or the company via Stenonymous, I am well aware that all it takes is a single visionary to back up, see there’s new data and information available that Verbit could not have had in 2016, and make changes that will make the company a fixture rather than the flop it is currently destined to be.