100 jobs lost as Twitch creator Justin Kan shuts legaltech start-up Atrium

4 Mar 20201.46k Views

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After struggling to disrupt the US legal services industry, Atrium founder Justin Kan has wound down his company.

In 2017, American entrepreneur Justin Kan launched legaltech start-up Atrium, after experiencing some frustration dealing with traditional legal services as a business founder and wanting things to be done differently.

Based in San Francisco, Atrium began offering legal services and fundraising advice for entrepreneurs, using both software and in-house lawyers. Kan’s business raised $75m in funding, from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Sound Ventures and Y Combinator.

Now, after three years in business, Kan told TechCrunch that he has let all the start-up’s staff go, which totals more than 100 people, and plans to return some of the $75m that the company has raised to investors.

‘Unfortunate’

Speaking to TechCrunch, Kan said: “I’m really grateful to the customers and the team members who came along with me and our investors. It’s unfortunate that this wasn’t the outcome that we wanted but we’re thankful to everyone that came with us on the journey. We decided to call it and wind down the start-up operations. There will be some capital returned to investors post wind-down.”

The news comes after Kan published a blogpost in January 2020 announcing that the company was going to undergo restructuring to “accommodate growth into new business services”, which resulted in some of Atrium’s in-house attorneys being let go. According to TechCrunch, some of Atrium’s legal team then formed a standalone legal firm and took on former Atrium clients.

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In January, Kan wrote: “We plan to continue to deliver start-up solutions through our client-centric platform, solving the hardest founder problems through customised mentorship, technology and a concierge programme of expert advisors.”

Less than two months later, Kan has said that the best thing to do now is fold the company, as neither it nor similar legaltech businesses have figured out “how to make a dent in operational efficiency”.

TechCrunch said this move could send “ripples through the legaltech scene”.

Kan’s history as an entrepreneur

Atrium was Kan’s third start-up. The 36-year-old is likely best known for his first start-up, livestreaming platform Twitch, which was purchased by Amazon in 2014 for $970m. Kan co-developed Twitch after he spent eight months in 2007 running a website called Justin.tv, which was a 24/7 live-feed of his life, broadcast through a webcam attached to his head.

While working on this livestreaming project, Kan noticed that there was a significant interest from users who were tuning in to the website’s gaming content, so he later launched TwitchTV, which was focused entirely on streaming gameplay.

Kan also launched Socialcam, which was a mobile app that enabled users to share videos online. This was purchased by Autodesk in 2012 for $60m.

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com