Law Technology Now

The Origin of Rocket Matter: What Makes Web-Based Legal Software Successful

In 2007 there was no web-based software for law firms. This drove Larry Port to create Rocket Matter, the first cloud-based legal practice management software company. In this episode of Law Technology Now, host Bob Ambrogi interviews Larry about Rocket Matter, its competition, and its investors (or lack thereof). In their discussion, they cover Rocket Matter’s competition with Clio, third party integration, and having a market-driven approach to product development. Larry closes out the episode with advice for those starting their own legal technology company.

Larry Port has worked with thousands of law firms worldwide since 2008 when he started Rocket Matter. Rocket Matter has since remained a leader in the industry, boosting law firms’ revenues by more than 20%.

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Law Technology Now

The Origin of Rocket Matter What Makes Web-Based Legal Software Successful

01/31/2017

Intro: You are listening to the Legal Talk Network.

[Music]

Monica Bay: Hello. I am Monica Bay.

Bob Ambrogi: And I am Bob Ambrogi.

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Bob Ambrogi: Tune in every month as we explore new legal technology and the people behind the tech.

Monica Bay: Here on Law Technology Now.

[Music]

Bob Ambrogi: Hi and welcome to Law Technology Now. This is Bob Ambrogi. And today I am going to be talking with Larry Port. Larry is the CEO and Founding Partner of Rocket Matter, a law practice management application. What do you call it Larry, do you call it an application, do you call it software?

Larry Port: I call it software. I like to call it a solution, but Monica Bay hates the word solution, so I have to call it software.

Bob Ambrogi: I’m with Monica on that. I actually looked at your LinkedIn profile and you called it an application there.

Larry Port: Yeah but it solves the problem. So, isn’t it a solution if it solves the problem?

Bob Ambrogi: Well, we can take that with Monica, who is of course the co-host of this podcast, but she is not here today.

Larry Port: Ha ha, so we can like change everything since she’s not here.

Bob Ambrogi: We can call it a solution for today, let Monica come back at us later.

Larry Port: Perfect.

Bob Ambrogi: So I want to talk a little bit about the history of Rocket Matter, but first, where were you before you were a CEO of a legal software company.

Larry Port: Well Bob, that’s a great question.

Bob Ambrogi: Oh, it’s a brilliant question.

Larry Port: It’s a very good question. Actually I had no interest in being involved in software when I was like in high school. When I was in, I mean I’m going way back now at this point, but I was like in the school play. I was editor of the school newspaper. I wanted to be like a comedy writer for TV or the movies.

Bob Ambrogi: Where did you go —

Larry Port: Oh no, I think all I knew was I was very creative and I was very technical. I was actually very technical, so good at math and all that kind of stuff. And I wasn’t sure, maybe architecture would have been a good thing, but films seemed to call me because it’s creative and technical. So I went to Northwestern. I got a degree in Radio, Television and Film, didn’t really like it.

I would go to these like parties that you know for like the academy awards, where like all the students, the film students watched the academy awards and I like — that was the last thing I ever wanted to do and everybody else there like knew who all the producers were and they knew who all the non-famous people were at those things and I was like oh my God, I’m going to get creamed in this profession because it’s so competitive.

So I kind of –I became very interested in like the documentary aspect of things and photography, so when I finished school I worked as a photographer for a newspaper down in South America and that was pretty amazing. That was an amazing experience and I –

Bob Ambrogi: However I never heard that before, that’s pretty cool.

Larry Port: Yeah, and I know that you have like kids that like travel the world and stuff too, so, but I was in Chile for a while and that was that was pretty amazing, because I was there like within 10 years of Pinochet being transitioning to like a Democracy.

That was a fascinating experience and when I was a junior in college, I spent the year in Spain. So like I have a big affinity towards like Latin America and Spain and I’m not Latin American or Spanish or whatever, it’s just kind of a, in fact I am from like a railroad town in Pennsylvania, but I don’t know how any of this happened, but it did.

Bob Ambrogi: But it happened and you must be fluent in Spanish?

Larry Port: [Non-English] And I also lived down in South Florida, so I’m always using it. So if we want to do like a Spanish podcast for Legal Talk Network, we could do it completely in Spanish if you wanted to, it’s up to you.

Bob Ambrogi: I definitely have my son for that because I’m not fluent.

Larry Port: Yeah, we’ll have to ask the Legal Talk Network people if they’d be interested in that, but okay, in any case after school, photography, especially photojournalism just was not for me, because I would — what happens is that you sit around and the stuff that you cover is either a way too exciting or way too boring.

So for example, way too boring, you’d have to like go to a press conference and just take pictures of the business guys like, idiots like me, like who wants to do that? But then on the way too exciting aspect of things like, you’d have to go cover a riot and I realized that at the pinnacle of my career they would send me into war zones if I wanted to continue the photography thing and I kind of want to coach Little League and have a bookshelf with my books and that’s not what I want. So I got involved in the film business when I was in New York City, the documentary stuff.

(00:05:01)

I worked for like IMAX Museum Production Company in Brooklyn and hated it and it was just awful. There was nothing I liked about it at all, aside from the computers, and this was the late 90s and the Internet was happening and I knew a bunch of people programming that were like Liberal Arts majors. So I enrolled in this course at MIU that allowed me to like take some pre-reqs for the 05:22Boards undergraduates and if I did well then matriculate as a Master’s student and so I did that.

And when that happened, of course the Internet bubble burst and all the good companies like one like Razorfish or Organic or whatever they were called back and all the cool crazy companies, they were gazoontype.com, whatever it was, they were like out the window. I did land on my feet, I got a job at Morgan Stanley, I was doing trading software and even though I trained with like heavy-duty database and parallel computing systems because of the film and photography background, I’ve always been doing front and fancy development with the visuals.

And it’s just not by my choice, it’s just the ability that I have so that’s where I always went and they wouldn’t let me stay. When my wife got pregnant we moved to Florida so I had to get a job at a place called Ultimate Software and I was a software engineer there. And I just got — I had the itch, I wanted to build my own good own — starting Rocket Matter at the time was really more about wanting to build the perfect software application than it was about wanting to build business because I’m a software engineer and it’s somewhat of a craftsman type thing. So that was really what I was after.

Bob Ambrogi: How in the world did you pick Legal Practice Management as an area to get into?

Larry Port: So that’s a very good question.

Bob Ambrogi: I’ve been asking, I know, or two for two here.

Larry Port: Yeah, well, excellent. Bob from Downtown, so I guess the way to answer that is that like when you’re a software engineer and you work for a company you get paid once to write your software but then the software company gets paid like thousands of times to sell the software and when I was at Ultimate Software which is the company that I was at Western Florida, they had finally become profitable and the way they did that is because they moved from a licensed model to a subscription model.

So the old license model where you’d have like a huge multi figure sale, a big sale versus like a steady stream of income, so it was like where could we maybe apply this towards, and I was always looking for opportunities is the truth and I just happen to have a lot of lawyer friends and South Florida as you know, very much of a service economy and they were telling me they were having trouble with their software and their automation, and it was expensive and it wasn’t very good.

So I don’t want to name any software names and throw anybody under the bus, but this was back in 2007 when these conversations were happening and I took a look around at the software that was out there –

Bob Ambrogi: You can safely throw them under the bus at this point.

Larry Port: Okay, sure. But you know I mean like I saw Time Matters for example and I saw things like PC Law and these were things that are — I mean they solve problems but they run on like Windows 95. I was a big Mac fan so nothing was really available on the Mac, they were for older systems. I’m a Web Programmer, that’s what I trained in and that’s what I’m good at.

So nothing was running on the web, nothing was running in a browser and I was working on HR software and also financial software, like that was incredibly secured stuff, so it didn’t make any sense to me why there wasn’t anything for legal?

I thought that I must be missing something. I could not believe that there was no web-based software for law firms? So that’s how it happened for the most part. And this was at a time where everybody was already doing online banking, this is 2007.

There was an addition online banking. I was working on — people were trading online, salesforce.com was already a behemoth. It was just — they say that the legal vertical is slow to adopt technologies and if that’s really true and I don’t know how that compares to other verticals, but if that’s really true then, that’s what allowed us our opening because it was 2007 and there was no web-based software.

Bob Ambrogi: Yeah and I don’t know if all of our listeners know this, but you and Clio launched very close to each other, but you were actually the first to announce a web-based Legal Practice Management software that you announced the beta of it and was it 2008 if I have that right?

Larry Port: February 21, 2008. That’s right.

Bob Ambrogi: Yeah and sometime after that Clio came along, not long after I think, a few weeks after came and announced the beta of it. So it’s interesting, you must have faced a challenge of some kind in selling lawyers on the idea of using cloud-based software?

(00:09:51)

Larry Port: Oh yeah. So it’s really funny that we be clear to the punch and it like endlessly needles them, so I find that that’s like one of the most fun tidbits to have. But the truth of the matter is, is that like we had to rely on each other, on Clio and Rocket Matter as we kind of built this industry. When we first came out of the gate, there was a lot of suspicion towards the cloud and there still is to some extent.

Bob Ambrogi: There still is.

Larry Port: But there still is a lot of suspicion, but it’s weird. This is something we may want to discuss later but we’re at this like tipping point moment, where if your client asked you where you keep your data and you say it’s in the back room, next to the coffee machine versus it’s hosted at Amazon then that’s starting to sound better, the cloud is starting to sound a little bit safer to people.

So it’s interesting how that’s going but back in the day, it wasn’t just the suspicion of the cloud. First of all, let me just say that there are always enough early adopters to get the ball rolling. There is enough lawyers who understand what it can do to their business, understand the risks, people who are really in the know that are willing to take the gamble on newer technologies.

And we were able to get started a lot – in a large part because of the MAC Community. They had no solutions and they were using our software and they were able to run their practices on their MAC. So that was what got the ball rolling but I had to work very closely with Jack Newton because there were ethics opinions coming up and it wasn’t just suspicion, there was a lot of stuff that was — we were changing some economics like a lot of money.

Because the way that practice management software traditionally worked is that the law firms would have to spend like $20,000 up front to get servers like Sequel Server and get the licenses and install it around things and it just wasn’t very good. You required consultants to help you and a lot of the people that were fighting us the hardest and that were arguing to the State Bar Associations that they shouldn’t be using cloud computing, were the people who had an economic interest in the status quo of having the major install.

So we had to do a lot of information sharing in order for — to get things off the ground and I think the fact that there’s — it would be an interesting story one day to talk about how Clio and Rocket Matter got together and shaped this; and not only that, but the competition between our company and their company has been so intense that the products have become spectacular.

Like I don’t know that other verticals have the benefit of having web-based software that says robustness what Clio and Rocket Matter have.

Bob Ambrogi: Yeah, I mean the competition has gone beyond just the two of you obviously. There are a number of players in this field, but in some ways Rocket Matter and Clio have taken different paths since 2008, 2009. I think it’s what 2009, when you came out in your general availability version but one of the things is Clio has pursued outside investment and as far as I know, you really haven’t done that. Why have you decided not to pursue outside investment?

Larry Port: Well, that’s — first of all, anything I say I don’t want to come off as a knock for anybody who decides to go the venture capital route.

Bob Ambrogi: No, I don’t need to position it that way at all. It’s just interesting I think that you’ve evolved in very different ways.

Larry Port: Yeah well — let me put it this way. So first of all, we were able to — I am very lucky that I do have friends and family that believed in me back when the entire economy was falling apart and invested in the company.

We did raise private capital, not that much. We probably raised like 130th of what Clio has raised but there is – to me, I never was a – I listened to the VC guys, they talked to us, we had a lot of conversations with these guys but ultimately what happens when you take money from a VC or any kind of institutional investor is that you become — you have to be in agreement about what your exit strategy is, that’s what — you’re forming a partnership about how you’re going to capitalize off your company.

And I was never really a 100% sold that that’s what I wanted to do or what direction I wanted to take things. They control your company. They have you do certain things and we have complete absolute freedom. We are a profitable company. We are able to completely guide our own ship and no one is forcing us to make any decisions that we feel may be counter to what’s important to our clients.

So that frees us up so if we really think that we need to be doing this, then we can go and do this. If we want to try and do this, then we can go and do this. Now, by not having the extra money we can’t market the way they can. We can’t be in all the different like bar association, trade shows and you don’t have as much money to spend on pay per click and things like that.

So it forces you to grow more slowly but that’s okay with us because we grow at the pace that we can sustain. We get more customers then we hire accordingly and luckily, it is a subscription business so it is predictable. So to be honest it’s not that hard to run.

(00:15:10)

I will say this though like a lot of people that have looked at our company from the institutional investment side are pretty shocked at what we’ve been able to pull off. It’s not easy to build a software-as-a-service business without a lot of outside capital because you have to build the subscription revenue over time and we were just able to do it because we kept our costs very low. So it would be an interesting case study some day I think.

Bob Ambrogi: Yeah it would be. Another way that you have different not just from Clio but from some other practice management platforms is maybe this isn’t exactly right but Clio has actively pursued a lot of third-party integrations. You have some third-party integrations but you haven’t really gone down that road in the way that they have. There are some other practice management platforms out there that have gone entirely opposite direction and have no third-party integrations of any kind.

What’s your kind of philosophy about that? What’s your approach to working with third parties in order to enhance your software?

Larry Port: Bob, that is another great question. All right so –

Bob Ambrogi: Flattery will get you everywhere Larry.

Larry Port: Perfect, wonderful. It actually is a pretty insightful question because that is a fundamental choice that a lot of software companies have to make is, where they want to go on this thing.

So first off is that we have our own API that people can program against. So there are other companies like Chrometa and there are a lot of private law firms that program against Rocket Matter to get like specific reports and whatever they want. So we’re open to having our own platform that people can build on top of.

Now, us going to other people, we choose to focus on the software that people really embrace and use all the time. So for instance we have Outlook integrations, Google integrations, QuickBooks integrations, things like Dropbox and box and Evernote and Fujitsu. We rolled out a really sweet integration with them, that’s pretty good.

So where we think that lawyers are using existing tools, we’re very excited to integrate with those existing tools. But in terms of a free-for-all integration with all sorts of different companies, the reason that we haven’t pursued that is because we haven’t heard the need from our attorneys.

One of the ways that we develop software, it’s pretty much a market driven approach to delivering software so what we do is we have a 17:29rhythm that how we conduct our business, we have an annual planning and then we have quarterly goals and so on and so forth but within that context, we have weekly product meetings, first thing Monday morning.

And we go around the table and we say, okay, what are we hearing from sales, what are we hearing from the customer support team, what are we hearing from the customer success team. The success team is different from the support team because they reach out to the existing clients to see how they’re doing. So they’re more proactive.

And that is what formulates our roadmap. That and what we call our PAC, our Product Advisory Committee and the Product Advisory Committee meets around once a month. We have a group of like maybe like 20 law firms of different sizes. We also have some consultants in there and we show them what we’re designing, we hear back from them what their pain points are.

So it’s very much a market driven approach to product development and if we don’t — one thing that for example that Clio has that we don’t have is the Zapier Integration. We have heard like maybe in the thousands upon thousands of law firms that we have worked with, we have come across one firm that has requested a Zapier Integration.

So whether or not we’re staying ahead of them or not, there are certain features where we want to stay ahead of the firms so we want to just be like this is going to be a really good option for you. We did that recently, believe it or not with our payment plans and recurring payments. Not that many people are asking for it but it’s very clear that it would be a good thing for them.

So we balance those things and we just find it easier for the technology level of a lot of our clients, if they don’t have to configure an integration. Does that make sense? Are those good answers?

Bob Ambrogi: Good answer Larry, yeah.

Larry Port: I don’t know if the answer was as good as the question.

Bob Ambrogi: So given — this has been a steadily growing area of competition for you, I mean even Thompson Reuters and LexisNexis have their own practice management platforms, a number of other companies out there, MyCase, CosmoLex whatever else is out there. So do you get asked why you over the other ones; and if so, what do you say?

Larry Port: Right, I say that I’m better looking and smarter than them and they should — so the – no, to be honest the response that I give is that there are a couple things that differentiate Rocket Matter over the competition.

Number one, we’ve been around longer than everybody else, by Clio than one week but there are a lot of new companies that have been around for like one year, two year, three years but we’ve been around, we worked with thousands of firms all over the country, all over the world. So we’ve been there since the beginning. We fought all the fights.

(00:20:04)

That’s one thing but to what’s important to the attorneys is time and billing and collections aspect of thing is why they are regarded to be best-of-breed in the industry. So for firms that are really trying to make their time caption more efficient, make their invoicing more efficient and their collections better and really boosting their revenue that seems to be among our client base why they choose us over the competition and it’s a fickle market. A lot of the people that are using Rocket Matter have used Clio, MyCase or other competitors in the past so that’s what we’re hearing from them.

The other thing is that they like the ease-of-use in the design of the software and we’re very lucky to be working with like amazing designers. Here it’s a huge thing for me. If anybody pays attention to our company or the brand of our company or anything involving that a lot of that descends from the origins of Rocket Matter, my background in like film photography and I can’t execute a lot of the look and feel but I can recognize when it’s good and recognize when it’s not good.

So that kind of visual strength of the product is also then another differentiator and also I will say that the customer service that we have if you talk to people is really unparalleled. Kim Byron who runs the support department has been with me since day one and they’re just so above and beyond great in terms of dealing with customers, getting them up and running and having them do everything that it just makes their lives very, very easy.

So I would say that it’s — I would say that it’s the durability of the brand. I would say it’s the superiority of the time and billing. I would say that the design and ease-of-use and the customer service or what really make us better than the competition.

Bob Ambrogi: Who’s your target user? Are you primarily oriented towards solo and small firms?

Larry Port: We focus on firms that are 30 people and below. Although we have firms that have 60-80 users. We have larger firms out there but they’re more of the exception to the rule. We have a lot of features that focus on the solo market. And in fact the way that we look at firms because the legal really puts the S into SMB in Small Medium Business.

So you’re talking firms that are so many of them are solos, so many of them are twos and threes. We actually segregate our firms the way we study them into solos, twos and threes and fours and above that’s how it’s like Eskimos with snow but that’s the market that we serve.

Bob Ambrogi: We had an interesting conversation once and if I understood it right at the time that you talked about the fact that getting somebody to become a customer is one thing but then getting them to actually be a user or an active user is something else and that sometimes you have to work with new customers to get them up and running on the platform. What are the challenges about getting a small law firm to really use a platform such as yours?

Larry Port: Well we have a motto here which is that if they train they stay and the trick is how do you get a busy attorney who is fighting so many fires especially in these small firms to be able to sit down and focus on the product. The firms that invest in training and invest in doing things will stay.

If you talk to people, if you ever hear somebody from Affinity Consulting speak like Debbie Foster or anybody like that and they speak at all these like technology shows, they’ll say that you have got to invest in training and they’re right because the firms that — it is really beneficial to use practice management software whether using us or something else. It helps keeps firms organized. It helps them run their businesses better and so on and so forth so it’s really imperative that people invest some time training.

Now to that end we have tried everything to – well maybe not everything, but we’ve tired a lot of things and we continue to try a lot of things to try and get people to train. So for example the first thing we did was okay we’re going to have a daily free webinar for people to log into. In fact it’s currently going on right now, it happens like at 11am every day.

So we have the daily free webinar that we have FAQs so for people who are like to read, I don’t like to watch videos, I like to read things right. Then we have videos for the people that like videos and hate to read things and then we introduced gamification into the product sometime last year where you win things based on what you do in Rocket Matter. So if you create your first matter you get a little pretty coin and if you create your first invoice you create another coin. So we’re really trying to —

Bob Ambrogi: That creates incentives, were people incentivized by that?

Larry Port: Yeah I haven’t really seen — it’s interesting. I should like circle back around and take a look at like usage on that thing but yeah we’ve heard that people really enjoy it and it’s going to help us every time.

(00:24:51)

One of the other problems that we have is that and this is something you may experience, a lot of times when you sign up for a software or you start using software you use the features that are available at that point in time and then the way the software works nowadays as we all know is that it’s a continual upgrade system.

But since you had an entry point let’s say three years ago in a given system you may not be following all the new updates because you’re just using what was available then and you just don’t want to take the time to learn anything new because who has the time to do it.

So one of the problems we have is letting existing firms know that there’s new stuff there. So now we’re like trying to experiment with okay let’s pull the login page out of where it was before and let’s put more information on it, let’s come up with a better system of communication with our customers. It’s a constant battle to keep software user informed about like what they have available for them.

Bob Ambrogi: A couple years ago you branched out into, launching an internet marketing service then I think you retired that or it involved into something else where you’re offering marketing products on ala carte basis. As far as I can tell you’ve gotten out of that all together. What was that experiment about and what happened with it?

Larry Port: Okay. That’s a good one. So that’s called internet marketing services yet another good one and here’s what we’re finding. We were like you mentioned before we’re like the small company, didn’t really have a lot of money especially we’ve been going toe-to-toe with a company that’s like not just Clio but we’re going toe-to-toe with companies that are billions of dollars and we’re doing very well and a lot of that because of our internet marketing capabilities.

So we’re like okay well if we can do this very well maybe we could offer this to attorneys and it also happened to be and not to throw anybody under the bus but law firms are getting themselves involved in contracts with legal marketing companies that are like really 26:44 and total snake oil and in some cases they are spending between three and five thousand dollars a month on these services that are really just like locking them and extorting them.

So there is really bad stuff out there in terms of like legal internet marketing services. So we thought that we could do a much better job for a lower price point and we were turning out really good websites, really good stuff the typical high-end Rocket Matter design, but what we found is that while we were making a lot of money doing this, we were spending a lot of money doing it and it was a completely different type of business.

So when you’re doing websites for people you need to have a different complete — the software business itself like with Rocket Matter or another application it’s almost like the pharmaceutical business. All the research and development goes into creating the first pill and then every subsequent pill is very, very cheap. So we put all this effort into like doing the software but then it’s like it’s so easily replicable that are our margins are incredibly high with Rocket Matter.

But with the internet marketing service which required so much personal attention it was just a very, it was just alien to us and it was just too hard for us to run and it required our staff to constantly get educated on the latest trends and SEO. We had to constantly hire to bring in more people for that thing and also everybody’s expectation is that they’re going to rank on the first page of Google and no matter how many times we said all right well you’re in New York City and your DUI lawyer or your family lawyer in New York City that may not be possible.

It’s very hard to set expectations in the internet marketing business. So what we decided to do was we decided to take all the resources that we were plowing into that and just plow them back into Rocket Matter and that’s our ethos. We are not afraid to try stuff and if we feel that it’s not working or that we can do something better we’re not afraid to pivot away from it.

Bob Ambrogi: We’re at a time when there are any number of legal startups, there seems to be a real surge in the numbers of legal startups, legal startup before it was cool to be able startup I guess.

Larry Port: I guess so.

Bob Ambrogi: So what if you learned about running a legal technology company that other entrepreneurs in this space may not know or should know?

Larry Port: Boy that’s a good question. Well the one thing I would say —

Bob Ambrogi: Yeah I am doing so good today.

Larry Port: Yeah. I think — yeah you really are, but I’m like really curious for you to ask a bad question now too. Alright so there are a couple things in the legal vertical that are challenging I would say. Number one is that there’s a mentality of and this is just how lawyers think and obviously this is a generalization but lawyers think based on precedent.

So there is you’re taught to think that way, evaluate cases based on precedent so on and so forth so a lot of times it’s hard to find people who are willing to be risk takers in the legal profession so you really have to focus on where if you’re starting out you really have to focus on where those risk-takers might be and what kind of people they are because you have to get the ball rolling somewhere and you have to identify the people that are going to be able to do that. We did it because there was a subculture of Mac using people back in 2008 that we were able to work with and that’s what got the ball rolling for us so that’s one thing.

(00:29:58)

There is, in general a sense of risk averseness. People say that it’s a very hard vertical to sell into. Again, I don’t know if that’s true because I haven’t sold to other verticals, but I have heard anecdotally that it is just a difficult sales process in general.

So the sales processes might take longer. Price points might have to be lower than they are in other verticals. So those are a couple things that you need to pay attention to, which means that you’re going to have to do things very efficiently. You’re going to have to really focus on keeping your costs down and running a very efficient business.

Bob Ambrogi: What should I have asked you that I didn’t ask you?

Larry Port: I’m a big reader and I like to think about the future of stuff and so you were talking about, but let me ask you this Bob, what books are you reading?

Bob Ambrogi: What am I reading?

Larry Port: Yeah, what books you reading Bob?

Bob Ambrogi: Actually I just finished a book which is nothing to do with legal technology. I just this Jeffrey Toobin’s book about Patty Hearst.

Larry Port: Oh yeah! Was that good?

Bob Ambrogi: That was excellent, it was really good. Interesting to me because I was growing up during that time I remember that’s when that was in the news, when that was a big story and —

Larry Port: Was she kidnapped, help us out for those of us that are younger than like 40 year or something or in fact I’m no longer younger than 40, what happened with Patty Hearst she got kidnapped?

Bob Ambrogi: She was kidnapped by this thing called the Symbionese Liberation Army which was a supposedly a radical leftist military group in the San Francisco area. It’s really — it was really more like the game that you couldn’t shoot straight. It was a sort of a small group of people really had no idea what they were doing or even why they kidnapped her other than that she was a Hearst and had money, but the big question is she then came around to them. She was — she participated in bank robberies with them.

Larry Port: Oh wow!

Bob Ambrogi: So the real questions was whether she was brainwashed or not. This is a famous case where she had F. lee Bailey representing her, when F. Lee Bailey was considered the best lawyer in the country. So really fascinating story and he really goes into the detail what happens while she was kidnapped. It’s like a year more than a year that she was on the run and being chased down. They finally captured her in San Francisco and there was notorious trial and it’s quite a story, so what you’re reading?

Larry Port: Well, would you recommend the book?

Bob Ambrogi: I would definitely recommend a book. I find it really engrossing and really interesting and so what are you reading Larry?

Larry Port: So I finished Shoe Dog by Phil Knight which is the story of him growing Nike from I guess sometime in the 1960s up through their IPO and it is just a wonderful book. It’s hard — I was watching the National Championship the other night between Clemson and Alabama and they all had the Nike swoosh on their jerseys and they’re all wearing Nikes and it’s just — it’s so hard to believe that something that big like started sometime. And it’s just really interesting to hear the stories and they never had any cash, it’s such a great story for anybody who like wants to hear that kind of stuff.

Bob Ambrogi: And he’s an interesting guy he traveled a lot when he was young and it’s kind of adventure.

Larry Port: That’s exactly right. He right out of school — actually he went to Stanford to get an MBA and then after that he went and he went to Japan, he went to the Himalayas then he went to all over the world, he saw the pyramids and when he was over in Japan is when he contracted with his first factory and what he would do is he would like borrow money, buy shoes, shoes would come over he would sell the shoes then he would take those profits and more money from the bank spend everything get more shoes and he kept on repeating this process and so he like never had any credit, never had any cash in the bank, it’s like reminded me of reading about the American Revolution where one false move could have ended everything, he was so close to the line.

The book I’m reading right now I’d be really interested if you were to read this and we could have a conversation about it, maybe you already read it, it’s called The Inevitable and it’s about a number of trends that are happening in society and technology that are moving forward and how we, and they’re not like specific things they’re just trends overall. One of them is artificial intelligence, another one is the prevalence of screens and it just takes these basic things that are like underpinning all of our advances and plays them out logically about how they will be over time and it’s very interesting.

There’s some really far out ideas in this thing. In the chapter on artificial intelligence the guy is talking about and I think his name is something Kelly like maybe Ken Kelly, he is a wired reporter and he’s talking about creating a taxonomy of intelligences. There’s really out there stuff in there. It’s just — I don’t know that I agree with all of it, but it’s certainly interesting stuff to meditate on and it’s important for me to see where things are going and trying to anticipate how things are going.

Bob Ambrogi: Kevin Kelly.

Larry Port: Is that his name Kevin Kelly it’s — for me it’s less about — some of it’s like, you know, because of Rocket Matter and my job as the steward of the technology company, but some of it’s about having children and how their lives are going to in mesh with society, what kind of jobs are going to be available to them, so that’s some of the stuff I’m looking forward to reading in 2017 more stuff like that.

(00:35:11)

Bob Ambrogi: Awesome! Well Larry I really appreciate you’re taking the time to be with us today and talk about Rocket Matter and books you’re reading and other stuff, it’s been really nice to talk with you.

Larry Port: Thank you for the opportunity. By the way if anybody ever wants to like have a conversation with me I’m always open to talking to somebody about cool crazy ideas. It’s larry@rocketmatter.com. I would love to talk to anybody that is listening out there and wants to have a cool conversation.

Bob Ambrogi: Great! You are going to be at Legal Tech New York?

Larry Port: I will be at Legal Tech New York. I’ll be there all day on the middle day and a little bit on the night before and the morning after.

Bob Ambrogi: And ABA Tech Show you’re going to be there as well?

Larry Port: I’ll be at ABA Tech Show, that’s March 13th to 15th I believe, so yeah.

Bob Ambrogi: Well we will see you there.

Larry Port: We’ll definitely see you there, all right?

Bob Ambrogi: Thanks a lot Larry, really appreciate it.

Larry Port: Okay, bye Bob! Thanks! It my pleasure!

Bob Ambrogi: And that brings us to the end of another episode of Law Technology Now. I really appreciate you’re listening on behalf of Monica Bay and myself thanks a lot for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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