Kira Systems, the legal AI pioneer, has undergone a strategic restructure leading to 23 staff departures and several others moving to different roles across the business.
CEO and co-founder, Noah Waisberg, told Artificial Lawyer that the departures were part of a review of where the company needed to focus its attention and resources. That review started in late 2020.
Despite the departures the company is still hiring. Waisberg also noted that the company only started to make use of its massive $50m funding cash pile in 2020, with that major investment taking place in 2018.
Waisberg explained: ‘We have not ever done this before, but as you get bigger, with more going on, there is also more need to focus.’
His key point is that as Kira rapidly grew it tried out various ideas and hired staff for a wide range of roles, from sales positions to new admin tasks. That eventually needed to be reviewed so that what is now an approximately 200-person company can focus on the right things for the business for the years ahead.
Or, put another way: you can’t do everything at once and it’s better to focus on a few things and be a pioneer there, rather than spread your attention and resources too widely.
Waisberg noted that staff have departed from a range of roles, such as sales, admin, customer value, and legal knowledge engineering. At least eight other staff had their roles closed, but have taken on other jobs inside the business.
‘We have tried to rebalance so we can be more successful,’ he added. ‘[the goal is to] do a little less stuff, and save bandwidth for other things.’
He added that Kira has some new product developments that will be announced soon.
So, what does this mean? No company wants to hire and then have to let staff go. But, as young companies grow they evolve, they try out new things, they hire people to take on roles that are sometimes something of an experiment, and they also hire in perhaps more administrative staff than they need.
Waisberg was clearly saddened by having to see people leave, but was stoic about the need for a growing company to focus its resources as the business and the market evolved.
Is this all about Covid-19 having an economic impact? It’s fair to say that companies going through a boom-time and operating under super-fast expansion tend not to be so focused on reviewing their staff roles.
However, perhaps whether it had been the pandemic or something else, all young companies eventually get to a stage where they need to pause and make sure they are putting resources into the right areas to meet the longer-term strategy.
It looks like Kira has now reached that maturation point. It’s not a change any company wants to undergo, but it looks like it had to happen. The impact of the pandemic has probably just hastened the arrival of this moment.