Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Translation Start-Up Cloudwords Debuts in Salesforce App Exchange

Once you realize how fast the world’s emerging markets are growing, you realize pretty quick how fast the market for translation and localization is probably growing along with them. It is, by some accounts, a $30 billion industry, and there are new companies popping up all the time, trying to attack it from different vectors; earlier this year, I wrote about one called Smartling.

Large companies like Hewlett-Packard or Microsoft will spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year getting their software, Web content, user manuals, training and sales material translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, French and a dozen or more other languages.

Yesterday, I met with another company going after this market: Cloudwords, a cloud-based platform designed to manage translated content. Large companies often have internal teams of people who are in charge of managing it all, and it’s a big job. Most just make do with a big Excel spreadsheet, but who needs that?

“We took a look around and realized there weren’t any tools for this,” CEO Michael Meinhardt told me. He sees the situation as similar to the state of the salesforce automation market a decade ago, when Siebel Systems — now part of Oracle — was at the top of the heap. A decade later, the market is very different, since shook things up.

The comparison is no accident: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff led the Series A investment in Cloudwords; its CTO, Scott Yancey, is a Salesforce alum. “When we first demonstrated this to Marc, he got it right away,” Meinhardt told me.

The company will announce today that it has completed an app which will be available in the AppExchange — essentially, the Salesforce version of the iTunes App Store. Cloudwords is specifically designed to integrate the translation process within the environment.

One key problem, Meinhardt said, is that companies often forget what has been translated, and into which languages. One thing the service does is keep track of everything that’s been translated, so that if you end up reusing it, you don’t farm it out to be translated again. “So often, people don’t know the translation has already been done,” he says. The hope is to help companies shave their translation costs by as much as half. Among Cloudword’s customers is SuccessFactors, the cloud-based human resources software outfit.

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— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus