Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
We've almost certainly left someone out. If that's you and you'd like to be listed, don't just quietly resent us, have a good whinge about it
Wong Meng Weng
Cofounder / Computer Scientist
Alexis Natalie Chun
Cofounder / Recovering Lawyer
Dustin Wehr (PhD)
Developer / Ex-lawyer-to-be
Meng is the computer scientist, systems architect, and resident good cop at Legalese. He enjoys specialising, writing, and doing deep research. 20 years ago, he created and led an anti-spam standard to worldwide adoption (used in most emails today). He's purportedly a lot wiser and more experienced now, so he wants to do the same and bring L4 to worldwide adoption. Hopefully this time it'll take less than 15 years.
Emails & first startup
In 1995, as a CS undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, Meng co-founded pobox.com, the first commercial email service (later acquired by Fastmail). A couple of years later, to get over a breakup, he created an anti-spam email standard (RFC4408 SPF) and led it to global adoption. Meng was also the one who championed its adoption by Microsoft & Google. Today, SPF protects a majority of all email. Not one for bragging, he suggests the curious to read theWashington Post's piece on it instead.
In 2005, Meng co-founded karmasphere.com, one of the first big data analytics solutions to deliver internet-scale “reputation data as a service”. This evolved to offer Big Data tools and was acquired by FICO.
Singapore & the 3rd Startup
In 2008, Meng returned home to Singapore (after 20 years away) for personal reasons. He missed the Valley, of course, so he decided build a new one. First, he co-founded Hackerspace.SG, one of the first maker spaces in Singapore. Then, bonding over I'm OK, You're OK (after all, he did come from a family of psychiatrists) with his soon-to-be cofounder, Hugh Mason, they founded JFDI.Asia, Singapore's first seed accelerator. The amount of legal and quasi-legal documentation Meng had to deal with (not successfully) at JFDI led Meng to put on his programmer hat for a couple of days and hack together what would later become v1 of Legalese.
Meng's background in innovation is informed by Everett Rogers, Geoffrey Moore, Clayton Christensen, William Janeway, Mariana Mazzucato, and Simon Wardley; by sitting on a variety of government panels in Singapore, most recently on the Committee for the Future Economy's subcommittee on Future Corporate Capabilities and Innovation (Startups); and by investing in over 70 startups. He hopes his experience with Legalese and doing a deep tech startup in Singapore will answer some of the questions he's had to keep answering (these include "why can't we house the next unicorn?", "why is our R&D not yielding the results we expected?"). Some others, like "are you batman?", he'll never answer.
As cofounder of Legalese, Alexis's job description is very vague. Anything that's not done but ought to have been, is her job. As the recovering lawyer, Alexis also spends her day exorcising legal demons and unlearning her bad habits by sharing her understanding of the end-users, industry, and established conventions and practices (i.e. horror stories) with the engineering and product teams. She is known to sometimes style herself as Alexis N. Chun in the well-honed tradition of Iain M. Banks.
Alexis spends her day exorcising legal demons and
unlearning her bad habits. Mostly, she tries to get
things off the research team's plates so they can focus
on the VIP stuff. That can be anything from writing
about and for Legalese, pitching to anyone who'd listen,
convincing governments and organisations to give us
research money, answer product / industry questions,
community managing, to putting her natural assets
(RBF) to good
use and playing bad cop to Meng's good cop within the
company. A little more self-interestedly, she also does
it so she won't have to wait too long to become the
first L4 legal programmer.
In her previous life, she first got lulled by the giant payout of being a corporate lawyer(she trained in corporate law at TSMP Law Corporation, a boutique Singaporean law firm that boasted of its highest starting salary), before moving onto a 'Big 4' experience with Rajah & Tann where she continued her training and later practised as an IP, IT, and commercial litigator. (Customary thank yous are footnoted here)To TSMP, she is grateful for the character building and for having imbued her with a love of elegant drafting.
To Rajah & Tann, she is grateful for the wide scope of work, secondment opportunities (BNP Paribas; JPMorgan), and for having always fed her like French royalty. Fortunately, none of the profession's razzle dazzle was enough to disabuse her of her mounting suspicions that the legal profession has neither the tools, math, nor systems needed to solve its problems. Her then-covert explorations in the tech industry led her to OKCupid, which eventually led her to Meng. Long story short: They met, he proposed, and 1 month later she quit her job. (Actually, he only formally proposed 3 months after, to which she might have reacted with a mild aneurysm and let a fumey fart escape whilst fully personifying the "???" thought bubble)
Alexis unschooled herself for secondary school in Singapore (preferring instead to hole up in her bedroom discovering music, films, and books), and is a proud alumna of Victoria Junior College. She's grateful that you read this far, but is deeply apologetic for having wasted your time. She recommends that you read any other section of the website instead (she put a lot of work into that). Or even better, read Diamond Age. When she grows up, she'd rather like to be a monster mash of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Lyra Silvertongue, Ursula K Le Guin, Nell, Karen Teoh, and Amanda Palmer.
Dustin is a computer scientist with a three peat background in Computer Science (BSc, MSc, and PhD)! Essentially, this means that he spends a great deal of time formalizing law and its associated appurtenances, sanity checking the other computer scientists (and computer scientist wannabes) in the team, and exercising his sainthood-worthy patience with the rest of us who waste his time with (silly) little questions and (trivial) demands (sorry Dustin!)
Prior to Legalese, he founded Logic for Progress, a non-profit that aims to advance the quality of deliberation on contentious social issues. (We know, big man with a big heart to match — we got lucky with this one!) Logic for Progress has its genesis in Dustin's PhD thesis (which was completed under the supervision of Stephen Cook and Alasdair Urquhart). He advocates leveraging the high standards of formal deductive logic (which are much higher than the standards of applied statistics and philosophy) to cut through the noise to find fundamental sources of disagreement, whilst avoiding flawed reductionist mathematical modelling (as is usually found in economics or game theory). It's a wee bit of a shame that he's had to put that on the back burner for now ("the world is not yet ready for this, not in this form", he says).
He has an old, old, old (his words) personal website where you can check out more of his work. He currently lives in Toronto, but has on occassion been coaxed out of Canada to attend conferences and meetings with the rest of the team.
The self-taught web developer at Legalese who is super relieved that he gets to deal with code and computers instead of having to actually become a lawyer (he'd met Alexis and her horror stories worked wonders on him). Law school was boring enough.
Yes, it's from that book and person in the bible. His
parents are religious; he no longer is.
The self-taught web developerthough to be fair, he did attend a GA webdev course, but in his words, found it completely useless and preferred reading on his own insteadat Legalese deals with the practical side of Legalese's product. This includes front-end work, deployment, and all the other needs of a modern web application. After studying four years of law, he decided that the subject had turned his brain into mush, and thus is now rehabilitating himself with the more energetic environs of programming. But for Alexis's proclaimation that he is "too smart to be a real lawyer", he might have been peer and family pressured into Big Law. Boy, did he dodge one.
Job has one of the most enviable memory capacities of the team, is always first pick at trivia games, and a very avid reader. Somehow, he still manages to find time to play and watch DOTA 2, enjoy movies, and develop an opinion on music. He is occassionally (affectionately) teased for being from the Gifted Education Programme (where kids scoring amongst the top 1% of tested IQ are recruited for special education) because he's often 3 steps ahead of everyone and doesn't like writing documentation. He comforts the rest of us by pointing out that Meng was in it when it was designed for those in the top 0.25%, and if Meng can learn to write documentation and wait for the rest of us, so can he.
Colin is an open-source and community building
expert, software engineer, and business
development consultant. He advises Legalese on
building a venture-backed, commercial,
Colin joined MySQL after Series B, and helped it grow from $34M in revenue in 2005 to $78M in 2008, and later to its $1B acquisition by Sun. Colin is also the founder of Grok Sdn Bhd, a technical architecture firm specialising in open-source software.
Currently, Colin is Chief Evangelist at MariaDB Corporation, where he is also a shareholder and part of the extended management team.
On top of being an active contributor and evangelist for the MySQL ecosystem and The Fedora Project, he was team lead (MS localisation), community marketing contact and trainer for OpenOffice.org, the leading open-source office software suite. Colin also co-wrote the End User Linux Desktop Manual for the United Nations Development Program’s International Open Source Network, and developed a Live CD for the UNDP, was voting committee member and conference chair for O’Reilly MySQL Conference & Expo for 3 years (where he also works on community-related web development), and is the project administrator for MySQL’s/MariaDB’s Google’s Summer of Code initiative.
Virgil currently works as a Research Scientist at the Ethereum Foundation.
Virgil is a cognitive and data scientist, disruptive technologist, information and machine intelligence theorist, and self-taught software engineer. In 2007, Virgil created WikiScanner, a publicly searchable database that exposed organisations which had made edits to Wikipedia’s entries by cross-referencing IP addresses with a database of IP address owners. The year after, together with Aaron Swartz, designed the Tor2web proxy, a web anonymity tool that allows Tor hidden services to be accessed from standard web browsers without being connected to the Tor network. Virgil is also an accomplished theoretical neurobiologist in quantifying consciousness. He has published papers on computer science, electronic identities, artificial life and complexity and information theory [http://arxiv.org/a/griffith_v_1.html]. Virgil received the Computational Graduate Fellowship from the US Government (their highest fellowship) to complete studies at the Stanford Graphics Laboratory and MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. He has also dissected a Chinese censorship program at Harvard Law School. Virgil holds a Ph.D. in Computation and Neural Systems from the California Institute of Technology.