This website wants to be the Uber for translation services

by Sam Dewey
November 10, 2015

Some business models just translate better than others. If you’re an Uber or an Airbnb and other companies happily adopt your model to market themselves as the [insert company here] for [insert product/service here], you can rest easy knowing your model translated pretty darn well.

And if you deal in translation, like Translate.com — one of the websites operated by Chicago-based Emerge Media — it’s essential that your approach to business, well, translates.

That’s why — you guessed it — Emerge Media founder and CEO Anthos Chrysanthou calls his site the “Uber for the translation space.”

“The professional translation industry is a $41 billion per year industry that is growing by double digit growth every single year due to the increase in information that’s available,” Chrysanthou said. “There’s a lot of user generated content out there. It needs to be understood and translated to the 75 percent of the world that does not speak English.”

The website sits at the intersection of artificial intelligence technology and professional human translation. Chrysanthou said he has about 7,000 vetted, professional translators from around the world who can help translate your content at the drop of a dime.

It works like this: Translate.com’s front-end artificial intelligence does much of the legwork, roughly translating documents and user generated content to about 80 percent completion. Afterwords, the translation is sent to a professional translator who further nurses the text, which bumps the overall translation process to about 95 percent. Finally, content is sent to a copy editor who polishes it until it’s ready for use.

Because translation is an art of subjectivity, Chrysanthou said he doesn’t promise 100 percent perfect translations. Instead, he’ll bring you 99 percent of the way there.

“We don’t say 100 percent, but the absolute closest a translation could occur is done by our platform,” he said.

Translate.com can currently translate content into about 100 other languages. And though professional translators are currently a major component of the business, Chrysanthou said the ultimate goal is to become a leader of AI translation.  

“Artificial intelligence is going to continue to get better and better,” Chrysanthou said. “We’re going to continue to build out the quality of our professional translators, but ultimately we want the very sharpest artificial intelligence that’s ever existed.”

He added that their API can already be tapped up to a million times a day, with several very large tech companies already relying on his company for translation services.

Emerge Media launched about ten years ago and employs a staff of about 20 in Chicago. Chrysanthou said after introducing Translate.com about three years ago, business has increased tenfold.

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