Friday, March 26, 2010

Smartling Gets $4m in Funding: Or How To Throw Venture Money Away

Last week Smartling, Inc., a provider of real-time, crowdsourced translations for Internet based businesses, announced that it has secured a US$ 4 million Series A round of investment, led by Venrock. The round also included funding from US Venture Partners, First Round Capital and several angel investors. According to the press-release, the company will use the funding to expand its operations and support product development.

What this shows to me is that the executives at Smartling are very good salespeople, and that the investors haven't done their homework very well.

Smartling proposes to use a hybrid model which essentially allows clients to pick between professional translators, machine translations, and crowdsourced translations. The key is managing it all, which can be done with Smartling’s software. With it, you can pick and choose which part of your site to translate which way.

I can predict here that this company is not going very far:
  • First, because they assume that clients have the ability to pick and choose how they want things done. 
  • Second, because like many before them, they assume that website localization is not more widespread because of lack of technology (as I say frequently, localization is a service not a technology problem). 
  • Third, because they haven't learned their history. Companies like eTranslate, WizArt, Wordlingo, and MotionPoint have pitched this story before. And where are they? Do you see them among the Top 30 Translation Companies in the world?
If the investors expect a 10X return on their investment as many venture capitalists do, I suggest that they start looking at other areas, or contact me to tell them where the money is in the translation industry (hint: not in website translation).


  1. Where is the money in the translation industry, then?

  2. Anonymous4:44 AM

    ditto for Ryan post, where can we earn something relevant to work done ?

  3. Oh,stop being so coy & share!

  4. Easy answer, the money in the translation industry is in the client pocket! And he will do his utmost to keep it there :-) !

  5. Anonymous10:56 AM

    Where is MotionPoint?