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SDL acquires Language Weaver, affirming its leadership in Machine Translation and Global Information Management

Maidenhead, United Kingdom
July 15 2010

Press Release

SDL Acquires Language Weaver, Affirming its Leadership in Machine Translation and Global Information Management

SDL, the leading provider of Global Information Management solutions, today announces it has signed an agreement to acquire Language Weaver Inc. (“Language Weaver”), a pioneer in statistical machine translation. This acquisition not only delivers best-of-breed automated translation technology into SDL’s Global Information Management Platform, it does much more. Integration of secure machine translation technology into the translation supply chain at all levels will allow enterprises and governments to translate significantly larger volumes of content faster and more efficiently to meet the needs of the vast content in today’s increasingly online world. The transaction has received shareholder approval of more than 85% of Language Weaver equity ownership and is expected to complete before the end of July, 2010. 


SDL is acquiring Language Weaver for a consideration of US$42.5 million (£28.2 million) in cash, subject to adjustments for closing working capital and cash positions, with target cash in the business of US$4m. The consideration is being satisfied using SDL’s existing cash resources. Language Weaver had unaudited turnover of US$12.2 million for calendar year ending 2009 with an unaudited pre-tax loss of $1.0 million. The deal will be earnings dilutive in 2011, due primarily to the amortization of intangibles created through the acquisition. Language Weaver is expected to be earnings enhancing thereafter. The business will be acquired on a debt free basis. Unaudited gross assets at the end of calendar year 2009 were $9.3 million. 


The amount of content available through the web today has increased dramatically and includes marketing content, manuals and support content as well as user generated content such as blogs, tweets. The need for people to read this vast amount of content in their own language is greater than the availability of human translators. Machine translation, as part of an overall strategy for creating and managing multilingual content, is the solution to that problem. The acquisition of Language Weaver’s machine translation technology puts SDL firmly in place for ensuring the effective provision of secure multilingual content into the future’s digital age through: 

  • Language Weaver’s success in government, combined with SDL’s blue chip client portfolio and their collaboration with the translation community 
  • SDL’s leadership in content and language technology solutions, combined with Language Weaver’s authority in machine translation technology 

The two companies have several joint customers, such as Adobe, Dell, Intel and Siemens and have tightly integrated their products to support both high-quality machine translation stand alone, as in combination with human translation. Language Weaver’s customer base includes enterprises such as TripAdvisor, who use the technology to provide instant translations of community reviews of hotels and restaurants. Language Weaver’s portfolio also includes government agencies around the world. One example is the solution developed with Raytheon BBN, a Language Weaver partner, that enables clients to scan through local country news, broadcasts, and web content to gain intelligence insights by analyzing multilingual open-source communications around the world.

Language Weaver is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, and operates in the United States, Europe and Japan, employing 96 staff. The company works closely with the Information Sciences Institute of the University of Southern California, a leading research institute for machine translation, to further research and enhance statistical machine translation methods through the combined parties’ scientists. The founders of Language Weaver, Daniel Marcu and Kevin Knight, both leaders in the field of Statistical Machine Translation will stay in the business.  More recently Mark Tapling was brought in as CEO to further commercialize the business since the quality and performance of the Language Weaver technology had reached new levels. Mark Tapling will also stay with the business. There are no plans to make any redundancies in the Language Weaver business.

“Only a small percentage of content is translated today,” said Mark Lancaster, Chairman and CEO of SDL. “The digital universe is set to rise 10 fold in the next five years and this expansion will be across the globe. Research has proved that internet users are significantly more likely to read and react to content in their own language. However there are simply not enough translators in the world to translate the text we need in local language at the speed and quantities required. We believe machine translation will become an integral part of companies’ content creation and management strategy. Within the next 5 years we expect over 30% of all translated content to utilize machine translation in the process of translating one Language to another. We regard Language Weaver as the best-in-class machine translation technology available in the world today. Integrating secure and customized machine translation technology into SDL’s Global Information Management technology stack positions SDL well to support our customers in creating global content in the future.”

“While Google Translate has set the standard for ad-hoc translations by consumers, we have found that most enterprises want to own their automated translation technology,” said Mark Tapling, President and CEO of Language Weaver. “When using Language Weaver, your content remains secure and confidential; it follows a workflow for translation and easily integrates into your other systems. It can also provide quality ranking and trained systems so that you have a trusted level of quality that respects things like corporate branding rules and consistency of translations. The Language Weaver R&D team has continuously pushed the boundaries in statistical machine translation research while developing human communication solutions for enterprises and governments. The SDL acquisition significantly expands Language Weaver’s ability to address the problem sets that the team tackles, to bring to market unique high-value machine translation products and solutions."

Mark Tapling went on to say, “The combination of our technology and SDL’s translation and content management technologies gives enterprises a unique opportunity to intensify their engagement with prospects and customers. This is very much in line with SDL’s vision of Global Information Management.”

Today, automated translation only represents around 1% of the total translation market (estimated at $10 to $15 billion – source IDC), but market analysts expect that both the total market, as well as the market share of automated translation will continue to grow at a substantial rate. SDL has seen that automated translation allows its customers to lower translation costs by 30% to 50%, while at the same time cutting time-to-market for translated content by more than 50%.

To learn more about the acquisition and the benefits of automated translation, we invite you to join us for a webinar on July 20th, 2010 at 16:00 BST (UK Time) /17:00 CET/11:00am EST/ 08:00 PDT. This is a free webinar but registration is required.

For more information on the acquisition please visit www.sdl.com/languageweaver

About SDL

SDL enables global businesses to enrich their customers’ experience through the entire customer journey.   SDL’s technology and services help brands to predict what their customers want and engage with them across multiple languages, cultures, channels and devices. 
SDL has over 1,500 enterprise customers, 400 partners and a global infrastructure of 70 offices in 38 countries. 42 out of the top 50 brands work with SDL. For more information, visit www.sdl.com.

About SDL Language Technologies

SDL’s Language Technologies division helps companies manage their communications with customers in different languages. 

The solutions ensure consistency of style and brand, automate manual processes in managing multilingual content and provide instant, automated translation of content. 

The solutions also ensure translators can reuse content and improve their productivity in content and software localization.

Contact

Language Weaver - Hannah Grap 

+1 310 437 7300 

hgrap@languageweaver.com 


SHIFT Communications for Language Weaver - Becky Caudill 

+1 415 591 8418 

bcaudill@shiftcomm.com 


SDL Europe and Corporate Headquarters - Vicky Ryce

+44 (0)7792 662213

vryce@sdl.com


SDL Americas - Betsy Fallon 

+1 508 415 1741 

bfallon@sdl.com 


SDL ASIA Pacific - Richard Delanty 

+81 90 6695 5313 

rdelanty@sdl.com