Thanks to a posting by Cassandra Caldarella from Cover Crow, I stumbled across a November 23 article by Verbit. They’ve got another round of funding (series E), and the valuation is upward of a billion dollars. But before my general critique and news, let me just share that I shared all we’ve uncovered with the author of that November 23 article, Rhys Dipshan. Verbit claims it serves the court reporting industry.
I object. In reality, the court reporting industry largely rejects Verbit. It’s only die-hard digital proponents like Kentuckiana and shops mired in controversy like US Legal Support that continue to support Verbit’s revenue stream, ostensibly through business-to-business transactions. The mainstay of the workforce, stenographic court reporters, have largely rejected use of Verbit because automatic speech recognition in its current form disproportionately harms minority speakers while we stand for an accurate record no matter who is speaking.
There’s a hint that Verbit may not be in a rush to go public.
This is likely a ruse. There isn’t a real reason to delay going public. If it was a good company with solid financials, an underwriter would jump on it, buy the shares, and sell them to the market. Verbit, despite all its investor money, may not be as healthy or strong as it attempts to portray in the media. This is similar to VIQ Solutions, the digital recording company with the transcription subsidiaries that lost $13 million this year.
Let’s not forget that in July, Verbit was floating the idea of going public in 2022. I laughed at it and gave some predictions. Now the company does seem to be pedaling back some on that front.
And we’re just getting started. We know that Verbit’s technology isn’t very good because it’s previously admitted it takes 8 hours to be ADA compliant. But now that they have millions of dollars, perhaps that will be used to massively expand their programming team and make a massive technological leap that has somehow been undiscovered by IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and Google.
NOPE. They’re expanding sales and marketing.
This gives us, the court reporters, two nuggets of information. 1. The idea that technology is always improving is illusionary — if a breakthrough technology was almost ready to disrupt us, they’d be putting the finishing touches on that, not hiring people to sell what they’ve already got.
2. My idea to make me the “universal salesman” for stenography is exactly what these businesspeople are doing and we should totally copy it. Count all the times Livne has been in the news or media since 2020. He’s never had anything particularly important to say, but he gets in there because he’s in control of a lot of investor money. At least at some media outlets, it is not ideas or truth that control, it is wealth and power. Special thanks to my donors over the last few days — and a very special $1,000 donor — you have all allowed me to run another advertising campaign, starting in a few hours.
Finally, Verbit gives us an idea of our own collective power by referencing the $4 billion addressable market. We know the median pay for us is somewhere around $61,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If we believe BLS and assume there are 21,000 of us, that’s $1.281 billion. I’ve argued that BLS statistics are inaccurate and it seems more likely there’s about 28,000 of us. That’s $1.7 billion. If we trust Tom Livne that there is a $4 billion market, we control roughly half of it — roughly half the market is going directly to stenographers in the form of income. Verbit, on the other hand, has previously stated its revenue is in the millions. $1.7 billion (stenographers) versus “in the millions” Verbit. Why does Verbit get more attention? Because the money and power is centralized.
But why trust Tom Livne? The market research reports I’ve perused, and particularly a 2021 report by Anything Research, put our market at more like $3 billion.
So while our market is likely to grow, it seems well behind previous five-year forecast of $3.157 billion provided by Kentley Insights in 2019 — though we will see where we are in 2024 or 2025.
A $3 billion market where ostensibly 57% goes directly to stenographers. Court reporters, do you see now why everyone is so interested in telling you that your job is defunct? Your existence is holding companies and CEOs back from having a larger slice of the pie — a $1.7 billion slice — and if doing away with you means minority speakers might go to jail on a botched transcript or captioning consumers might be in physical danger, who cares? You should just give up and let it happen.
Alternatively, realize that you are just as smart as the businesspeople and start acting like it. They’re riding off of your ignorance. They’re riding off of your unwillingness to look at the numbers and see what they say. Everything seems so scary and uncertain when others write about these issues. But the issues are not so hard to understand when Christopher Day writes about them. That’s because my goal is your enlightenment. The goal of salespeople is to keep you from questioning the purchase.