Tali, a product that allows lawyers to track their time through voice commands using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, is shutting down, effective June 30.
The company notified customers by email of the news this morning. Customers will have until the end of June to download any data that have stored with Tali.
Monthly subscribers can continue to use the product through the end of June at no cost. Annual subscribers will be issued refunds.
“We gave it everything we had,” cofounder Matthew Volm told me yesterday. “We’re ready to move on and take all that we’ve learned with us.”
Volm and two friends — Matt Anthes-Washburn and Matt Hoiland — started Tali in 2017 after Volm saw his lawyer-wife struggle with time entry. “Our goal is to eliminate the pain and frustration for attorneys associated with logging time, which saves the firm money by decreasing administrative costs and increasing revenue by capturing billable time that was previously lost,” Volm told me at the time, when the product was still in pre-beta development.
Tali formally launched in September 2017 at the Clio Cloud Conference, also then announcing its integration with Clio. It later added integrations with Rocket Matter and PracticePanther.
At the 2018 Clio Cloud Conference, Tali won the $100,000 prize in the inaugural Clio Launch//Code competition as the best new integration with Clio. (I was a judge for that competition.)
Although Tali raised nearly $1 million, the company was not able to establish a sufficient user base to keep going. “We ran out of money before we found a product-market fit,” Volm said. “We got to the point where cash was running low and we didn’t have the traction to go out and raise more funding.”
In the email to customers, the three founders wrote:
Unfortunately, Tali’s story ends here. Many challenges in the world of timekeeping remain unsolved, and we failed to create a sustainable platform for tracking time. For this, we’re deeply sorry. We want you to know that we considered every option before making the difficult decision to end the product that ultimately brought us together.
Volm said that lawyers were attracted to the concept of using a voice app to track time. But there was a disconnect between what lawyers expected and what the product was able to deliver.
Voice technology needs to further evolve to support something as sophisticated as time tracking, Volm said. It’s one thing to ask Alexa to play NPR, but quite another to ask it to record “point-five for drafting a summary judgment on the smith matter.” Sometimes, Alexa wouldn’t understand or would make a mistake, and that was frustrating to users.
Tali was not the first voice-enable time tracker for lawyers. The first was Workspace Assistant from Thomson Reuters, which I wrote about in May 2017. But while Workspace Assistant could be used only with TR’s 3E Workspace, Tali was the first that could be used as a standalone product or through third-party integrations.
The company behind Tali was called Three Matts, for the three Matts who founded it. Even as they close down Tali, the three Matts remain close friends, Volm said, and are thankful for the lessons they learned and the fun they had.
I was the first to write about Tali as it was just getting started and I got to know Volm a bit over the years through a number of phone calls and meetings at conferences. I love writing about new startups and am sad to have to write their obits. But I suspect one or more of the Matts will be back with another startup sooner or later.
As for voice-enable time tracking, Volm is sure another product will come along in a few years, when the technology is more mature, and succeed.
“I truly believe we’re just too early,” he said.