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Application Software
Morad Elhafed  |  December 2, 2021
Not Lost in Translation: Our Investment in Smartling

As business becomes more digital and global—and online content drives more sales—one service is playing an outsized role in commerce today: translation.

More than 7,000 languages spoken in the world, though 23 of them (including English and Chinese) are spoken by half the world’s population. That means most large companies are increasingly scrambling to efficiently translate growing volumes of content on their websites to keep up with global buyers. But traditionally, translation and localization has been a very inefficient process, powered by small, human-powered agencies doing manual work, often billed hourly.

Enter Smartling*. The company, founded in 2009 by technology executive and ex-Air Force pilot Jack Welde, thought there had to be a better way. Since then, Smartling has developed a data-driven approach to translation that leverages machine learning as well as human translation, which is often necessary to take nuance and context into account and deliver greater accuracy in content. The company’s system, called the Enterprise Translation Cloud, is used by a number of prominent Fortune 500, Global 2000 and emerging technology companies—including IHG, Shopify, Momentive (formerly Survey Monkey) and Lyft—to help achieve higher-quality translation across platforms and devices at a lower cost. The system currently translates millions of words per day, according to Smartling.

Battery first started tracking Smartling in 2013 and got closer to the company during the pandemic, over Zoom. As a foreign-born U.S. citizen—I’m from Morocco and speak French and Arabic, in addition to English—I was especially drawn to the company’s mission. Ultimately, after more in-person meetings, we decided we were very impressed with the company’s solution and the larger market trends it plays into: As more translation tasks become automated, we believe budgets for localization work will shift away from language-service providers and toward next-generation, software-first vendors that can also leverage a web of translators. And we believe Smartling is well positioned to become a major player in that market.

We are thrilled to announce a $160 million investment in the company today, an event we hope is the start of a deep, long-term partnership to help Smartling scale its business to the next level through organic growth and, potentially, targeted acquisitions. We feel aligned on that goal with the Smartling team—nothing will be lost in translation.

This material is provided for informational purposes, and it is not, and may not be relied on in any manner as, legal, tax or investment advice or as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy an interest in any fund or investment vehicle managed by Battery Ventures or any other Battery entity. 

The information and data are as of the publication date unless otherwise noted.

Content obtained from third-party sources, although believed to be reliable, has not been independently verified as to its accuracy or completeness and cannot be guaranteed. Battery Ventures has no obligation to update, modify or amend the content of this post nor notify its readers in the event that any information, opinion, projection, forecast or estimate included, changes or subsequently becomes inaccurate.

The information above may contain projections or other forward-looking statements regarding future events or expectations. Predictions, opinions and other information discussed in this video are subject to change continually and without notice of any kind and may no longer be true after the date indicated. Battery Ventures assumes no duty to and does not undertake to update forward-looking statements.

*Denotes a Battery portfolio company. For a full list of all Battery investments, please click here.

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