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Merger and Acquisition Activity Continues as TransPerfect Acquires Crimson
Posted by Donald A. DePalma on October 27, 2005  in the following blogs: Supplier Business Issues, Translation and Localization
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Number 9 on our list of the top 20 translation companies, TransPerfect (known as Translations.com to some of its customers) seems determined to climb over competitors Euroscript (US$54.5M in 2005), Xerox Global Services ($60M in language business), SDI ($60.3M), and RWS ($63.4M). Sources inside the company claim it will close the year at US$65 million in revenue, almost guaranteeing TransPerfect a higher position on the top 20 of 2006.

Crimson, a small specialty translation firm in Boston, has reportedly been shopping itself for several years. We believe that TransPerfect will continue its acquisitive plan, pulling in other firms that directly complement its business in regulated — financial and medical now — translation and localization. If history is any indicator, shrewd buyer TransPerfect acquired Crimson on the cheap. A million dollars in revenue here, another 2 million there could accelerate the company’s rise up the LSP ranking ladder. It could also cause indigestion, but focusing on smaller, highly specialized agencies will keep TransPerfect out of the scrutiny that Lionbridge faces as it digests the larger Bowne Global Solutions.

In a flurry of press releases over the last month, TransPerfect seems to have exited some financial reporting "quiet period." In addition to ISO9001-2000 certification for Translations.com, the company announced a partnership with content management provider Percussion Software, in which Translations will employ its GlobalLink technology as a module in CMS workflow. The companies successfully partnered at Thrifty Car Rental. It also revealed a successful Interwoven CMS implementation with Hilton International. Finally, it detailed an integration with FatWire’s CMS for multilingual collaboration.

Translation.com’s efforts with these three CMS providers echoes an earlier time with suppliers like eTranslate (the technology that is now GlobalLink), GlobalSight, and Idiom announcing partnerships almost weekly. However, these newer relationships seem built on actual customer success stories rather than hopeful press releases. The company is benefiting from a renewed interest among CMS vendors in global applications, while Translations.com seems willing to invest in tighter integration. Its challenge will be to stay out of the deep end of the software pool, avoiding the concerns that SDL raises by selling tools to the LSPs competing for the language service business. A contractual obligation with eTranslate’s backers reportedly requires Translations.com to pay royalties if it ever sells GlobalLink as a standalone product, so that could keep the company out of the pure software business.

What does all this mean? TransPerfect has thrown down the gauntlet and intends to become a market aggregator. Earlier this year it bought back the share of the company held by investment bankers. The principals, Phil Shawe and media darling Liz Elting, publicly claim they want to stay private. Protestations notwithstanding, we are certain that a liquidity event is on the horizon in the next year or two.


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Keywords: Localization, Mergers and acquisitions, Translation

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