Updates from the Language Industry: LSPI, NeuralSpace, 3Play Media, and RWS

The Slator 2022 Language Service Provider Index

2022 is starting strong for the language industry, according to Slator’s very own 2022 Language Service Provider Index (LSPI), which has gathered revenue data from 295 language service providers from around the world. The Slator LSPI charts the growth (and decline) of the world’s largest translation, localization, interpreting, and language technology companies. The 2022 index features more than 100 new companies compared to last year’s index.

Slator divides LSPs into four categories based on their revenue:

  1. Super Agencies: revenues greater than 200 million USD
  2. Leaders: revenues greater than 25 million USD and under 200 million USD
  3. Challengers: revenues between 8 million USD and 25 million USD
  4. Boutiques: revenues between 1 million USD and 8 million USD

In Slator’s podcast (slatorpod), research director Esther Bond and managing director Florian Faes provide some highlights of this year’s LSPI. Of the 295 companies listed on the 2022 LSPI, 5 are super agencies, 55 leaders, 49 challengers, and 186 of them boutiques, revealing that most companies in the language industry landscape are small in size. Geographically, Europe is home to most LSPs on the index, with 139 companies based in Europe, excluding the UK, which on its own had a whopping 33 LSPs. North America claims 68 LSPs, 58 of which are located in the United States. Asia is home to 20 of the companies on the index; there are an additional 35 that are located in areas not mentioned above. 

According to Bond and Faes, most companies on the index experienced substantial growth: worthy of note, given the dire situation COVID-19 has placed many industries in. The LSPI estimates a near 22% growth in the combined US-dollar revenue, taking the total number up to 9.4 USD. However, it is important to understand that a significant percentage of this number is the result of M&A(mergers and acquisitions)-driven consolidation. Organic growth, on the other hand, featured in the low digits all around. Taking into account both M&A and organic growth, these are the growth rates for companies based on category:

  • Super Agencies: 33% growth from 2020
  • Leaders: 18% growth from 2020
  • Challengers: 14% growth from 2020
  • Boutiques: 16% growth from 2020

This growth complements decline in some of the companies; 10% of leaders, 8% of challengers, and 10% of boutique companies reported some level of decrease in their revenue. Lastly, a new category for the 2022 index is the headcount, in which Slator requested companies to share their employee numbers. The typical LSP employs about 137 people, although the median could tell a quite different story, says Bond. 

Overall, the Slator 2022 Language Service Provider Index (LSPI) tells a positive, uplifting story about the state of the language industry. Despite the oppressive regime of COVID-19, LSPs are thriving, spurred on by international cooperation and developments in the AI sector, among other reasons. 


NeuralSpace Raises 1.7 Million USD

Another positive news from the language industry: NeuralSpace, a London-based SaaS (Software as a Service) platform, has raised 1.7 million USD in a seed round led by Merus Capital. NeuralSpace offers developers a “no-code web interface and a suite of APIs” for NLP tasks without having to know any machine learning or data science knowledge; available applications include Natural Language Understanding (LNU), entity recognition, machine translation, transliteration, and language detection. 

For enterprises that need such functionalities, NeuralSpace offers easy and compatible NLP applications for companies to implement into their websites, products. etc. The possibilities of NeuralSpace’s applications are broad; the company cites use cases in areas such as media, entertainment, gaming, electronics, appliances, healthcare, wellness, automobiles, education, banking, and financial services.

NeuralSpace’s offerings are similar to that of its competitor, Hugging Face, another company that provides open-source NLP technologies. What sets NeuralSpace apart, however, is its focus on low-resource languages. In its mission statement, NeuralSpace CEO Felix Laumann notes that “more than 90% of all NLP solutions are exclusively available for European languages… only 6% are available for low-resource languages, mostly spoken in Asia and Africa.” 

According to Slator, NeuralSpace currently generates 100,000 USD annually and has a 19-person team. The company relies on transfer learning and combining datasets to provide support for low-resource language translation. 


3Play Media Acquires Captionmax

In the media industry, 3Play Media—the leading video accessibility provider—announced the acquisition of Captionmax, which specializes in live and recorded captioning, localization, and audio description services. According to BusinessWire, the acquisition includes National Captioning Canada (NCC), “the largest live captioning provider in Canada and a subsidiary of Captionmax, providing exciting geographic expansion for 3Play Media into the Canadian market.”The terms of acquisition were not disclosed. 

3Play Media’s acquisition of Captionmax means that 3Play’s live captioning services will undergo more developments and improvements while allowing the company to expand its services into Canada. Josh Miller, co-CEO of 3Play, told Slator that the transaction will allow the company to “scale rapidly and be a leader in the media-accessibility market.” 

Live captioning is a growing field; related applications such as closed captioning, transcription, audio description, and subtitling offer multifold enhancements to viewers of media and entertainment, as well as sports, education, technology, enterprise, government, and e-learning, writes Slator writer Esther Bond. 

3Play also offers a platform that utilizes machine learning and automatic speech recognition (ASR) alongside human services and human review to provide support in “the voice-writing process, the failover to auto captioning, and the postback of captions to video platforms.” According to Bond, “3Play can integrate with multiple video and meetings platforms and generate captions from a Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) stream.” Miller explains that, upon being input audio, “a human captioner re-speaks the dialogue into primed speech recognition to produce a highly accurate live captioning product.” 

A unique capability of 3Play’s platform is that, according to Miller, “if at any point the captioner is disconnected, we will failover to automatic captions, then back to human captions when the captioner is reconnected—without any manual intervention,” ensuring that live captioning during an event never blanks out. Miller goes on to add that, “in a post-Covid world, it’s becoming clear that hybrid, virtual, global, and full time remote lifestyles are here to stay,” positing that there is a great need for captioning services in the future, near and far. 


RWS Hits 1 Billion US Dollar Revenue

RWS, a UK-based language service provider, has recently announced great growth in the year 2021, having generated an annual revenue of 694 million GBP (940 million USD). This places RWS in second place on the 2022 LSPI leaderboard, most of its growth coming from its acquisition of its major rival, SDL. Organic growth was recorded at 4%. RWS has a global team of over 7,500 employees specializing in localization, content creation, artificial intelligence, and IP services, providing one of the biggest language services in the world. 

The information comes mainly from RWS’s annual general meeting (AGM) statement, in which the company Chairman Andrew Brode made a series of remarks regarding the company’s strong financial growth and positive prospects for the near future, such as this highlight of the company’s recent progress:

[RWS] delivered a strong set of results in its 2021 financial year, with a better than expected profit performance, against the background of the Covid-19 pandemic. This was a year in which the Group acquired SDL, creating a world leading provider of technology-enabled language, content and IP services, doubling the Group’s size, and adding new client relationships and capabilities.

According to Brode, RWS saw strong performance from its Language Services and Regulated Industries divisions, which offset weaker performance in the IP Services division. With this strong performance, the group intends to invest for growth in software and internal systems, as well as in selective acquisitions. “Our strategy,” says Brode, “will harness our broader technologies to deliver new solutions to clients, drive further operating efficiencies and ensure the Group is at the forefront of the technology-led evolution of our industry.” RWS expects 2022 to bring the company over 1 billion USD in revenue.