TransPerfect Acquires Crimson; Expands Into Life Sciences

TransPerfect Translations announced today that it had acquired Crimson Language Services. According to the press release, the “merger creates a newly-formed Life Sciences Division that combines Crimson’s ISO 9001:2000/ISO 13485:2003 certified quality system and patent-pending risk management methodology with the production resources and localization talent of TransPerfect and its software localization unit, Translations.com.”

Crimson is a well-regarded agency with a solid client base in the life sciences and financial services industries. I don’t know what the purchase price was but strategically it makes sense. More important, given the fragmented nature of the translations industry, this type of merger is a sign of things to come.

Two thoughts…

If you’re a small translation agency: Specialize now or struggle later
If you’re a small translation agency worried about competing with the “big boys” like Lionbridge or SDL, find a industry vertical or two that they have done a relatively poor job serving thus far and one that has good growth potential. Life sciences, for example, has been a key vertical because clients will pay a premium for quality. This doesn’t mean you won’t pitch other industry opportunities as they arise, but you do need to start specializing. Clients are getting savvier in how they select agencies, which means they want agencies who know their industry inside and out. Vertical specialization is the way to create deep and long-lasting client relationships. Also keep your eye on value-added services, like source content editing, interpreting, local-market keyword advertising support, and more.

If you’re a translation buyer: Don’t buy from a “one size fits all” translation agency
No agency is an expert at every industry, despite what they will tell you. The first thing you should do when evaluating potential agencies is take a good look at their client roster. Then you should call a few of their clients (clients that are in your industry) to get a feel for the agency’s track record. The TransPerfect acquisition of Crimson is good news for clients, because it combines in-depth industry expertise with the IT skills and software of a much-larger localization vendor.

Globalization Firms Go Mainstream

The globalization services and software industry has for years labored under the radar of the mainstream media. But this is gradually changing thanks in part to consolidation among top players like SDL and Lionbridge and investments by smaller players in marketing and PR.

And then there is a phenomenal success of Tom Friedman’s The World Is Flat which is awakening the public to the importance of this industry in helping companies expand globally.

Language Weaver and Welocalize are doing their part in raising awareness by earning a spot on two key industry lists…

Welocalize Makes the Inc 500
Translation services vendor Welocalize announced today that it made the annual Inc. 500 ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the country. Welocalize ranks No. 407 on the list, with three-year sales growth of 339%. This is the first year the company made this list and I doubt it will be the last.

Language Weaver makes Deloitte Fast 500 List
Language Weaver, a enterprise software developer for the automation of human language translation, has been named a Rising Star on the 2005 Deloitte Technology Fast 500, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology companies in North America.

TransPerfect to Translate the Restaurant Industry

TransPerfect Translations announced that it was selected by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF) to “produce translations of multicultural training tools.”

According to the press release, the restaurant and food service industry, with more than 12 million employees, is the second-largest employer in the US. And it has a large and growing percentage of non-native English speakers.

TransPerfect says it is too early to tell what the size of this deal may be revenue-wise, but the company did confirm that they’re currently only working on Spanish translation.

TransPerfect is definitely an agency to watch. Privately owned, the company has been growing quickly over the past few years and recently bought back full control of sister company Translations.com. It claims roughly 300 employess and I estimate it will finish the year at more than $60 million in revenues. While it is still a small company compared to the likes of a Lionbridge, it appears to have a high profile among the clients that I speak with and it is rapidly adapting to new opportunities as they arise. And focusing on the US Hispanic market is clearly one of those opportunities.