Saturday, November 05, 2005

New merger talks in the industry

It's too early to confirm, but there is a rumor circulating that welocalize, the D.C.-area company is in conversations to merge with Connect Global Solutions, the nice guys from Ireland. More later.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Don and Renato will present together at Localization World

My partner Don DePalma and I will be presenting L10N in 2010 next Thursday at 10:30 am at Localization World in Seattle.

If you are there, don't miss it. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Better Localization Blog

I just spent an hour reading through this excellent blog by Vic Dickson from China called BetterLocalization. Vic and I met a couple of years ago when he attended my Sales Management Workshop here in Carlsbad, CA. He is the CEO of Transco, one of the leading Chinese localization companies. I particularly enjoyed the entry about CMMI applied to localization, since I am writing a report on that topic.

His articles are well written and well thought. I strongly recommend it.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

SimulTrans: Avoiding the $36 Comma and Other Ways to Reduce Translation and Localization Costs (Auburndale, MA)

Simultrans was one of the pioneers in client education. Back in the 90s, it ran a series workshops for IT companies that graduated many of the localization managers in the industry today. It is with pleasure that I see them back into this activity. For those of us who have been in the business for a while, it is easy to infer what the 36-dollar comma means. By multiplying small changes by a number of languages and a variety of publishing media (documentation, help, web, etc.) it is easy to see how inserting a comma late in the process can escalate the price of translations.

If you are in the Boston area, my recommendation is "go!" The event is free and the content is good. By doing this, Simultrans follows rule number one of sales: give something before you ask for something!

If you heard about the event here, and you go, please let me know how it was.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Trouble at Transware

We have learned that Tom Kelly, the CEO of Irish company Transware, and John McCormack, its CFO, both coming from BlueStar Solutions, Inc. (a provider of applications management outsourcing services) have left the company. Devin Lynch is the new CEO.

Before this, it was notorious that Transware had not been paying its vendors, leaving invoices unpaid for up to 180 days. The new team came on board, but their vendors were still having trouble collecting.

Our sources tell us that Transware is not making money and struggling with how to compete.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

SourceWire | Press Releases - How to Choose A Translation Services Supplier

Although I am always skeptical of translation companies telling people how to buy translation services, this short article by Liz Athey from Roevin Translation Services gives some insight on differences between the U.K. and the U.S. translation markets. Namely, the charging of services by 1,000 words.

As I am always looking for hard independent data to justify doing translations, I liked the mention that "results of the British Chambers of Commerce 2004 Survey – The Impact of Foreign Languages on British Business — found that exporters who adapted and localised their products/services and sales literature for their export markets, and who placed value on having staff with foreign language skills, enjoyed average export sales growth of 7% — or £290,000 – over the previous year. "

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Customer Centric Selling Workshop in Paris a big hit

Jim Lewis, the former CEO of Berlitz that hired me to work there in 1999, is giving the first Customer Centric Selling workshop customized for the translation industry in Paris, at the request of Common Sense Advisory. This first event has 18 participants from all over Europe and the response has been excellent. We are planning to have other two events in the U.S. (East Coast/West Coast). The beauty of Customer Centric Selling is that it is a development on Solution Selling and it is a great way to sell services. Berlitz, Bowne, SDL and Lionbridge use this sales approach.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Buy translation and toilet paper in the same place

For those of you who have seen Common Sense Advisory's presentations, the concept of the translation-to-toilet-paper ratio is not new. We have said it all along that some companies spend more money on toilet paper than they spend on translations (but nobody talks about cutting the consumption of toilet paper).

Mustang Cleaning Supplies from the U.K. is offering both. According to their press-release, they are going to offer machine translation for their janitorial clients who might hire a Portuguese employee who cannot read local manuals and regulations.

They are using Systran's machine translation and offer a disclaimer: "The translation services are provided by SD2001. The SYSTRAN Software used by SD2001 strives to achieve the highest possible accuracy, however no automated translation is perfect nor is it intended to replace human translators. Any discrepancies or differences created in translations are not binding and have no legal effect for compliance or enforcement purposes. If any questions arise in regard to the accuracy of information contained in any translated portion of text provided, please refer to the orginal version. Language structures in English are not easily translated into another language. Source text that includes jargon common to an industry, may not be translated accurately. Mustang Marketing & Services Ltd or SD2001 are not responsible for translation errors."

The fact is that this is the ultimate example of commoditization of language services. But don't be afraid. Although they will certainly attract some clients, these are not the client that you might want to have.

Lionbridge Completes Acquisition of Bowne Global Solutions

Lionbridge Completes Acquisition of Bowne Global Solutions

A lot has been written about the acquisition of Bowne Global Solutions by Lionbridge, but the official agreement has happened only now. In the next months we will see some reorganization in the offices of the company. The first thing that happened was the relocation of Kevin Bolen, from BGS New York to Boston and his new title: Chief Marketing Officer.

More news as they come.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

McDonald's - A Global Company

Jia Osiel, Globalization and Strategy Manager (right) from McDonald's Hamburger University, and Jessica Rathke (left). in Oak Brook. McDonald's is present in 119 countries and gets 66% of it's revenues from outside the United States. In the U.S. all training programs for the store staff are delivered in English and Spanish. There are 7 Hamburger Universities around the world.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The two Cecis of Córdoba

The 4th Translation and Interpretation Conference just ended in Córdoba in Argentina. The event was organized by Cecilia Maldonado (left) and Cecilia Irós (right), owners of IMTT, a translation and interpretation services company in that city.

The superbly organized event covered several issues of interest for freelance translator, ranging from productivity tools to language issues.

On Sunday night, Proz organized a Pow-Wow, which was apparently one of the biggest ever. There were almost 100 translators at the San Honorato Restaurant. Great food, great people, great conversations. Each person had a chance to introduce himself or herself (mostly women... as usual).

The good surprise of this event was finding other very professional organizations in this city, which, by the way, has the oldest university of the Americas. Companies like SpanishBackOffice, owned by New Zealander Charles Campbell, Spanish Express of Carlos Rivarola, and Patagonia Translations owned by my friend Ignacio Luque (who was kind enough to refer me to the organizers as a speaker) are also offering professional services to translation companies and final clients worldwide.

My greatest take away from this event was the idea that came up in discussions about competition in the market. I believe that translation companies in Argentina should get together and pool resources to start selling Argentina as the best place for Spanish translations. What Argentineans don't see is that Panamenians, Mexicans, and Peruvians, for example, are getting the same price for their translations, even though as a general rule Argentineans are better educated and more prepared. I suggest that Argentineans get together and set up booths at Localization World, ATA Conference, the ATC Conference in London, and others. Their goals should be to promote Rosario, Córdoba, and Buenos Aires as the places to go for professional Spanish translations. Let's see who will take the lead.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Emergency call takes 2 minutes to be answered

The Racine Report - Lost in translation: MP3 of 911 call gives a link to the taping of a 911 call in California.

A couple of things come out of this story:

  • Although a great service, over-the-phone interpretation (OPI) is not perfect. In fact, Language Line, the company mentioned in the story, claims that it takes them in average 9.7 seconds to put a Spanish interpreter on the line, but in this case that claim was not materialized.
  • It amazing how burocratic this 911 calls are.
  • The comments from readers is shocking (mostly along the lines of immigrants, go home).

More on the interpretation business later this year.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Letter to BusinessWeek addresses common dilemma

Don't Get Lost in Translation is the title of this week's Smart Answers section in BusinessWeek. Despite the fact that Lost in Translation has become a cliché that even us at Common Sense Advisory have used in the title of one of our reports, the advice given by Chris Durban is excellent.

The question was: "Our clients found that outsourcing Spanish translation to Latin America is cheaper, what should we do?"

The answer was: You are selling the wrong product to the wrong people.

I keep saying in my Sales Management Workshops that translators and small translation company owners learn their business lessons at the grocery store (and I mean this as a negative comment). They tend to think that price is the only factor driving translation and localization buying practices. If they reduce their price, they are going to get more work. Of course there are different market segments and people are willing to pay different prices for the same service, and the main lesson here is that if you want to get better prices, you really need to learn how to sell. Sell to the client needs and you will command much better prices.

Chris Durban's advice was very good.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Positive vibes in the localization industry

Today we heard the news from Lionbridge that they had a record quarter in terms of revenue, profits and cash generation. Rory Cowan seemed very excited with the prospects for the future of the company after the integration of Bowne (BGS).

He estimates that the company will achieve between $400 and $430 million in revenues in 2006, with profits of up to $40 million.

There were lots of interesting tidbits in the call (for amore detailed analysis, check Common Sense Advisory's Global Watchtower entry on the topic), but what I was glad to hear was the upbeat tone. Good things, growth, new clients, sales success... It looked like Lionbridge's executives were ecstatic, a sharp contrast from previous calls where they were almost apologizing for missing a quarter or for the concentration of technology clients in their portfolio.

On top of that, apparently Welocalize disclosed their numbers. I still have to find the source, but for me their $10.2 million in revenue in the first six months of the year do not compute...

Well, all these good news seem to be reflected in the results of the Global Confidence reports that Common Sense Advisory will be publishing in the next couple of days. One of the key findings of the quarterly survey is that 52% of the buyers expect their spending with translation to increase in the next three months.

Monday, July 25, 2005

How many countries have you visited?

I had known about this site for a while, but I went back there to update some new countries that I visited in the last couple of years, like Guatemala and Finland. World66 lets you check all the countries that you have visited (and in which you have lived). It also lets you track the States of the United States and the Provices of Canada that you have visited. It was great to find that the site has improved a lot, although Macau and Hong Kong aren't listed anymore :-(

Here's my map as of today. I have visited 38 countries or 17% of all of them. Now I want to visit Mongolia!

create your own visited country map

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Two interesting sites and Google Translations

This week I had a chance to play around with two very good sites developed by Dr. Qilian Cui from Beijing, China.

The sites are and They contain a wealth of information on the Chinese translation and localization market and very interesting articles about the industry and issues related to Chinese localization.

If you clicked on the links above, you will have noticed that the sites are written in Chinese (which is not one the five languages I speak). In order to read it, I engaged the help of Google Translations. I can report that in addition to being impressed with the speed of the translation, I felt like I could understand and read with some ease the texts that were presented.

I strongly recommend a little tour of these sites.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Fusion Society in Silicon Valley was a blast

The main idea behind the Localization Fusion Society is that people go to conferences to network and talk to their industry peers. After meeting people from my town all over the world and never seeing them when we were at home, Don and I figured: who cares about the conference... let's just do the networking part. It is cheaper and it is a lot less work.

We have had Fusion Society meetings everywhere. There are five rules, though. And they must be respected. The two most important ones: NO SELLING and SEND PICTURES.

Check out the Fusion Society site for pictures of past events in places like Pittsburgh, Amsterdam, New York, Silicon Valley, San Diego... Why don't you organize one in your city!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hold the presses! We don't have the Last Word anymore

In my last posting I mentioned that we would have the last page OpEd article in the next issue of Multilingual Computing... Sorry. It's not going to happen. Unfortunately our analysis of the mergers ran a little too long, so the editors decided to make it an article, instead of the Last Word.

Too bad! I really like that last page :-) It probably means that I will have to write another article for the next one.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Last Word in Multilingual Computing is Ours

In the next issue of Multilingual Computing, the only magazine that focuses on the localization industry, the last page article - a sort of OpEd page - will be signed by Don DePalma and I. We will be analyzing how the market is now divided in two camps:

- Managed services: the Lionbridge approach
- Technology driven services: the SDL approach

Don't miss this article.

Monday, July 04, 2005

LSP: An new industry standard term

It feels good to see that an acronym that you coined has caught on. In the early days of Common Sense Advisory, when Don and I were writing Beggars at the Globalization Banquet, we didn't want to use the common practice of separating the world in buyers and vendors, especially because very often vendors act as buyers, too (in the case of MLV buying from SLVs).

We didn't like the other acronym (GILT) that was coming up at that time and which we avoid to use. We believed that GILT (pronounced "guilt", for globalization, internationalization, localization, translation) had a negative connotation, especially when associated with other words like GILT Provider, GILT Vendor (weird, isn't it?)

So we looked at what all companies had in common and came up with Language Service Providers (LSP), which is the term that we use in our research. And now we are proud to see that the industry has adopted our terminology and incorporated it into products, like SDL, with its LSP Solutions, and Idiom, with its WorldServer LSP Advantage Program™.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

List of Top 20 companies released by Common Sense Advisory

After missing a few significant players that do not compete in the traditional markets, like RWS that specializes in patents and Euroscript that does a lot of work for the European Institutions, Common Sense Advisory published an update to its well publicized Top 15 Translation Companies list. The new list is expanded to Top 20, so that nobody that was in the list was left out (these guys at Common Sense Advisory are soooo nice!)

The full list of can be seen here.

After the acquisition of Bowne by Lionbridge, the Top 5 companies are:

1. Lionbridge (US)
2. Titan (US)
3. SDL (UK)
4. STAR (DE)
5. RWS (UK)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

What a week!

Two major acquisitions in one week! I hope there are no more surprises, so I can sleep a little bit now :)

I also wish I had bought some stock before this. Since January I have been talking about the merger of Lionbridge and Bowne, yet I didn't even think of investing in any of the companies. Had I done that, I could have gained 43% on Lionbridge stock in one day!

Too bad I am too naïve, too broke, or too distracted to invest in this business!

Now I look forward to a quieter summer period with some new research coming.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

It's official! Lionbridge buys Bowne

You saw it here first!

Earlier tonight, Lionbridge Technologies (NASDAQ: LIOX) announced a $180 million acquisition of Bowne Global Solutions, thereby creating the world's largest player in a growing and global $6 billion market for globalization and localization services--services that enable leading global organizations to release products and content that meet the linguistic, technical and cultural requirements of customers, partners, and employees worldwide. (See below for text of the announcement.)

This transaction:

* Joins the top two industry leaders with global scale across 25 countries and approximately 500 customers

* Establishes Lionbridge as the industry consolidator and clear leader in the sector

* Adds scale and revenue growth to Lionbridge's global infrastructure

* Is accretive to Lionbridge earnings, with doubling of profit margins in 2006

* Follows on the heels of another recent transaction in the growing sector (SDL and TRADOS)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Top 15 Translation companies will become Top 20

If you missed it, the big news last week was the publication by Common Sense Advisory of a list of the Top 15 companies in the translation and localization industry. The link to it is here.

Well, some companies were missing from the list. As soon as more information is checked, the Top 20 list will be published. The new companies to be included are (not in this order).

- RWS ( from the UK
- VistaTEC ( from Ireland
- Logos ( from Italy
- LCJ EEIG ( from Germany, Italy, Belgium, and Spain

I am still missing the 20th... Lot's of candidates out there.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Lionbridge update

Two different sources confirm that the Lionbridge (LIOX) acquisition of Bowne Global Solutions (BGS) is a done deal. Contracts are drafted and apparently the MBO is off the table. I wonder if the Trados deal wilk accelerate the announcement.

SDL buys Trados

Monday is the big bang day. SDL is announcing the acquisition of Trados for $60 million dollars. Details to follow the announcement. Check Common Sense Advisory's Global Watchtower for more details.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Gianni Davico in Pasadena at the ALC Conference

Pasadena,June 15, 2005. Gianni Davico, owner of Tesi & Testi, a translation company from Turin, Italy, and author of the book "Il mercato della traduzione in Italia" participated in my Sales Management Workshop for Translation Company Owners. I received an autographed copy of the book and promised to read it soon.
?Thanks to Elisabete Miranda from Translation Plus for taking the picture.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Common Sense Advisory has its new blog! Smart commentary about the localization industry

Common Sense Advisory

Krakow, Poland

On June 7 and 8, 2005, I worked with the Argos ( to plan and stimulate their growth. Argos has a very dynamic management team, and a group of young and driven professionals.
?The city of Krakow is wonderful. I had excellent (and very cheap) meals at restaurants with a lot of personality.

Friday, June 10, 2005


On June 4th, I presented at the masters course in technical translation at the University of Pisa.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Merger Gossip

The word in the street is that Lionbridge (NYSE:LIOX) will be acquiring the American operations of Bowne Global Solutions (NYSE:BNE). Apparently the European and Asian Operations of BGS will be the subject of a management buy-out led by Brian Kelly (VP of Europe).

The good sources are very quiet, of course, but I would not be surprised if Lionbridge bought the whole operation.

As I said in a recent QuickTake that we published at Common Sense Advisory, Language Service Deal-Making Heats Up, I believe that this consolidation at the top will be beneficial for the industry as a whole, although the sum of the parts will be smaller than the two companies operating separately, especially because of the Microsoft factor (MSFT is the biggest client of both companies, and its vendor managers would not allow so much concentration of localization work with one vendor only).

Stay tuned for more.

IQPC in San Francisco

I just drove 10 hours from San Francisco to San Diego after participating for 2-days in the IQPC Website Globalization conference. What a treat! The best part was that there were very few translation vendors. Most of the participants had valuable content and the conference was small enough that I was able to meet with almost all participants.

I was representing my company, Common Sense Advisory ( and I must confess that I was a little disappointed that nobody quoted our research there. Fortunately, this was also the first event in which we had one of our salespeople present. I am sure that pretty soon there will be more people reading our reports on Web Globalization and Localization issues.

Today there was also a LISA ( event in Boston. Unfortunately, I don't participate in LISA events anymore. I used to be LISA's fiercest supporter. I sold multimillion dollar contracts there, I met my wife there, and I sold my company there. I was even elected as a member of their executive committee. When all the members of the board resigned a few years ago, I stayed and supported the organization.

But the organization has lost its objectivity and in the words of its Managing Director, now it is a "pay for play" organization. If you sponsor one of their events, you get a speaking spot. This goes against the principles that my business partner, Don DePalma, and I have established for our business: vendor-independence and objectivity.

The best part of the story is that a friend called me to say that two speakers mentioned our research, more specifically a great report that Don wrote about Content Management Systems and Globalization called "Rage Against the Content Management Machine".

All in all, I am happy!