Alvin Tedjamulia, a veteran of more than 40 years in legal technology, one of the three cofounders in 1998 of NetDocuments, and a true visionary in bringing the legal industry to the cloud, today announced that he is retiring as NetDocuments’ chief technology officer after 23 years in that role.
Tedjamulia announced the news as he concluded his closing keynote at the NetDocuments Inspire 2022 conference in Denver, eliciting reactions of surprise and even tears from many in the audience.
CEO Josh Baxter said that Tedjamulia will continue to work with the company as its chief evangelist, a role he has already played in spirit if not in title.
Baxter and Tedjamulia announced that stepping in to the role of CTO will be John Motz, who was most recently SVP of Mindbody Software, which develops wellness software. He has also been CTO of GrayMeta Inc., vice president of product at ADP, and product and development leader at Intuit.
Tedjamulia founded NetDocuments in 1998 together with brothers Ken Duncan, who was CEO until he retired in 2014, and Lee Duncan. Tedjamulia was the last of the cofounders still working at NetDocuments.
The trio had previously founded SoftSolutions in the late 1980s. It was the first true document management system developed for law firms. It was acquired in 1994 by WordPerfect, which in turn was acquired by Novell in 1995, and its features incorporated into Novell’s Group Wise product.
When they launched the NetDocuments product in 1999, it was trailblazing in that it was one of the first in the legal industry to be offered as a web-based service accessible through a browser interface.
Tedjamulia will be the first to tell you that it was a struggle in those early years to sell law firms on the concept of cloud-based document management. But today, NetDocuments is one of the world’s leading DMS systems for the legal industry.
Earlier this year, the International Legal Technology Association honored Tedjamulia with its lifetime achievement award. Last year, he was named to the Fastcase 50, which honors the law’s “smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, and leaders.”
Baxter said that Tedjamulia has been “an incredible influence on the legal industry,” whose impact has extended far beyond NetDocuments.
While Tedjamulia was a visionary for bringing content management to the cloud, Baxter said, his greatest impact has been on the many lives he has touched and changed.
Tedjamulia is known for keynotes in which he draws lessons from the natural world to illustrate concepts in legal technology, and this year, in his final keynote, he spoke about butterflies and the amazing patterns of navigation and endurance they are capable of.
He concluded with a story about Frederick Urquhart, a Canadian zoologist who devoted his career to studying the migratory habits of Monarch butterflies, and who, after 40 years of trying to track down their migratory destination, was finally able to travel there and see swarms of them in Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains.
Urquhart later wrote: “I gazed in amazement at the sight. Butterflies – millions upon millions of monarch butterflies! … Breathless … my legs trembling … I muttered aloud, Unbelieveable! What a glorious, incredible sight!”
Tedjamulia then borrowed from Urquhart to offer his own words after his 40 years of work:
“I gazed in amazement at the sight. Patterns – billions upon billions of experiences and expertise embedded in documents! … Breathless .. my legs trembling … I muttered aloud, Unbelievable! What a glorious, incredible sight!”
Thanks, Alvin, for all you have done, and best wishes for all you are yet to do.
(By the way, watch for a LawNext podcast episode next Monday for a conversation with Tedjamulia and Baxter recorded live at the conference.)