Can Transperfect save Worldlingo? is the title of a post I wrote last week about Transperfect’s acquisition of Internet translation company Worldlingo. Alex Buran, CEO of Translation Services USA, enlightened us with the following comment on my post.
Most likely Transperfect is buying patents. They are in the middle of a lawsuit with Motionpoint and perhaps, need more substance to win the case.
(Read more here) http://news.priorsmart.com/transperfect-global-v-motionpoint-l4tL/
Worldlingo has many patents related to online ordering systems and website translation.
I did not know of this lawsuit and it sheds a whole different light on the deal.
In reading over the lawsuit, I found the timeline to be interesting. Transperfect had bought the patents from Worldingo almost one year ago. They filed suit against Motionpoint in January, 2011. The patent infringement complaint filed in California is dated September, 2011. But the Worldlingo deal was only announced in November, 2011. Why did it take so long for Transperfect to announce the Worldingo acquisition deal? Did they initially just buy the patents and only then decide to buy the whole company? Did the due dilligence on the deal take that many months to complete?
Another very interesting point: in its complaint, Transperfect has laid the legal groundwork to sue end customers for using Motionpoint website translation technology. Some of the companies named in the complaint are Pizza Hut and Best Buy.
One thing is for certain: this is a dirty fight started by Transperfect over control of the website translation market in the USA. Motionpoint is one of the fastest growing companies in the USA and is handling website translation for many of the largest companies (Fortune 500) in the country. Read an interesting interview here by Will Fleming, Motionpoint CEO who describes Motionpoint technology in basic terms.
Transperfect obviously wants to stop Motionpoint but is apparently losing ground in the fight. So what do they do? Buy intellectual property and start a patent war. TP probably has deeper pockets than Motionpoint and can bleed Motionpoint to death in a lawsuit that will take years to settle. Legal costs will be huge for both sides. In the meantime, Transperfect sales people can tell customers that Motionpoint is in alleged violation of TP patents and that if they choose Motionpoint as their vendor that they too may have to pay Transperfect for patent infringement. So they had better select TP as their website translation vendor. Pretty devious and ingenious, wouldn’t you say? But as the French saying goes, a la guerre comme a la guerre (translation: in war anything goes).
But the ideal end game for Transperfect would be to buy Motionpoint and merge their activity into translations.com. The patent infringement lawsuit would give them an advantage in the negotiation. If TP would buy Motionpoint it would sure give them a dominant position in the USA website translation market. And Transperfect CEO Liz Elting would love that.
The area of Internet translation is large and is growing. As more people are searching for translation services on the web, translation companies are putting more effort into creating engaging and interactive websites. In the last few years, a number of new translation companies have emerged that only sell via the Internet. Some of these companies provide the entire order cycle from quote to delivery online, with no human interaction of any kind.
Alexa, a subsidiary of Amazon, is probably the most influential company in the field of general website information, Internet traffic statistics, analytics and metrics. One of the more useful features of the Alexa website is Top Sites, where you can rank websites per topic, industry, etc. I obtained a ranking on Alexa today for translation services company websites (click here to see the Alexa ranking). Here is the top 10 list:
- SDL International
- Translation Guide
- Translation Services USA
- Applied Language Solutions
In reviewing this list, I made a few observations that I wanted to share with you:
- Four of the website listed by Alexa (Proz, Translators Cafe, Translation Guide and Translators Base) are not translation companies. They are websites that provide language- and translation-related resources.
- Three of the websites are steadily dropping in the Alexa rankings: Applied Language, Worldlingo and Lingo 24. Applied Language used to be the number 2 ranked translation company on the web up to a few years ago, but has strengthened its position as a full-service LSP and is no longer as aggressive in promoting their website. Wordlingo owned the Internet translation business for years but has steadily been losing ground with the emergence of free services and translation widgets from Google, Microsoft and others. Worldingo also tried some risky SEO tactics that may have cost them a lot of traffic (I wrote a blog post about it earlier this year).
- Four of the websites (Applied Language, SDL, Worldlingo and Translation Services USA) employ some form of free machine translation. That factors high in drawing traffic to their website as people are always looking for free translation services.
- All of the translation company websites on this list use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to advance their ranking in the search engines. Several of the companies offer free translation widgets that link back to their website in order to boost their ranking. Several of the websites use some form of online affiliate marketing.
- So far, none of the online translation companies like MyGengo and Onehourtranslation have cracked the top 10 list. That may change in the future and if I detect any significant trends I will let you know.
It was announced today that Worldlingo (www.worldlingo.com) is going to integrate the Language Weaver machine translation system on their Internet site and in their desktop translation products. See the full post on http://tinyurl.com/qf4atf
Worldlingo is the leader in a market niche that it itself created: Internet Translation. The Australian company came into prominence at the start of the 2000′s by offering free translation of websites. This solution was deployed by thousands of websites, with each website providing a text link to Worldlingo’s home page. As a result, Worldlingo came in at the top of virtually every keyword search involving translation. Worldlingo was the first translation company to rely exclusively on the Internet for marketing and sales.
In another brilliant move, Worldlingo paid Microsoft a sum of several hundred thousand Dollars (which MS gladly pocketed) to integrate Worldlingo’s translation services in MS Office products.
With the huge following that resulted, Worldlingo started to sell translation solutions for Website translation, translation of emails and other applications.
All of Worldlingo’s translation solutions were powered by Systran Enterprise Server 5.0.
Recently, Worldlingo has seen a steep drop in Internet traffic on their website — 25% in the last 3 months and over 50% in the last 2 years (see http://alexa.com/siteinfo/worldlingo.com). That has got to hurt as the Internet is their bread-and-butter. Worldlingo’s solutions have become outdated. The Systran 5.0 server they are running is a few years old. People are not really buying desktop translation products any more. And Google offers many of Worldlingo’s solutions for free, which makes it very tough for Worldlingo to make money from sales. The future of the partnership with Microsoft is unclear. Microsoft has its own machine translation technology which they are integrating into MS Office products.
By integrating one of the best machine translation systems available (Language Weavers Statistical MT system), Worldlingo hopes to regain some of its prominence by rejuvenating its product and service offering with new languages and enhanced translation quality.
Worldlingo is the brainchild of Australian entrepreneur Phil Scanlan, who is probably still the owner but no longer the CEO of Worldlingo. Mr. Scanlan is currently running RxWorks – Veterinary Practice Management Software.