lyuno Media Group set to Acquire Rival SDI
Mergers and Acquisitions
In a major reconfiguring of the media localization landscape, UK-based media localization provider Iyuno Media Group announced that it is acquiring its largest rival, SDI Media. The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, but Iyuno has entered into the agreement with Imagica Group Inc., the current owner of SDI, to acquire 100% of its former rival.
“With both companies’ presence across APAC, EMEA, and the Americas, we are very excited about the opportunity to become the best-in-class global localization services company. We believe the size, scale, technology, and global reach of the combined company will support the growth of our customers, the collective industry, and consumers around the world,” said Iyuno executive chairman David Lee. Lee noted that due to the regulatory review and approval process, the company cannot discuss specific future plans until after the acquisition.
Lee was, however, very optimistic. “Our objective for the future is to continue to deliver the quality and service reliability that customers of both companies have come to know — now on a larger and more expansive scale,” he said.
The M&A is part of a continuing trend. The same week’s earlier news involved Ad Astra, Straker and Lingotek, Mem-source and Phrase, as well as the announcement that Canadian private equity firm Volaris Group acquired Across, a Karlsbad, Germany-based TMS provider.
“Iyuno’s acquisition of SDI Media is big news for the indus-try, but not completely unexpected. Last year, we witnessed an increasing M&A trend in the media localization industry, with Iyuno acquiring BTI Studios, and Transperfect acquiring MoGi Group and Lylo,” said Belén Agulló García, lead media localization researcher at Nimdzi Insights.
Once the deal is complete — pending standard reviews — the acquisition will see Iyuno take over ownership of US-headquartered SDI Media, currently the world’s largest pure-play media localization provider by revenue. After the acquisition, Iyuno will the largest. Iyuno generated revenues of $185 million in 2019, while SDI Media brought in $215 million the same year.
García stated that the big players in the media industry — broadcasters, streaming platforms, and film distributors — are increasingly setting highly specialized technical requirements, and are looking for service providers that are able to meet as many of those requirements as possible. “The workflows are more complex than ever, and the time-to-market in this glo-balized world is just getting shorter and shorter. So content creators need to make their lives easy by choosing the correct vendors. That is why technology is more important than ever, especially amid the pandemic.”
The alliance between Iyuno and SDI Media is a reflection of the media industry’s current needs, said García. “While both companies are well-known for their technology, Iyuno’s techni-cal infrastructure and end-to-end platform for the localization industry plus their latest remote recording developments will add to the vast expertise and network of dubbing studios of SDI Media. This combination will be very attractive to the big players looking for end-to-end, high-quality solutions.”
Just “as Keywords Studios became dominant in the gaming industry,” said García, “we can expect Iyuno to become the consolidator in the media space.”
Straker Aquires Lingotek
Mergers and Acquisitions
Australian language services provider Straker Translation has officially purchased American translation tool company Lingotek, according to mandatory public disclosure report-ing in Financial Times. Straker Translation is traded on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Under Australian law, listed corporations must notify the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) when “the products of the merger parties are substitutes or are complementary to each other” — as translation management systems (TMS) and services are to one another.
Grant Straker, Straker founder and chief executive, said the acquisition is key to Straker’s ongoing plans for expansion. The deal brings with it access to 20 enterprise customers and partners, including Oracle and Nike.
This is a roughly $6.74 million deal, with Straker Transla-tions paying out $5.27 million in cash, and Lingotek receiv-ing the remaining $1.2 million in stock. In 2020, Lingotek’s revenue was $7.9 million. The disclosure predicts Straker Translations will therefore reach break-even on the buy dur-ing the company’s 2022 fiscal year.
Lingotek is a cloud-based translation services provider, offering translation management software and professional linguistic services for web content, software platforms, product documentation, and electronic documents. In 2006, Lingotek was the first US company to launch a fully online, web-based, computer-assisted translation (CAT) system and pioneered the integration of translation memories (TM) with a main-frame powered machine translation (MT). Since then, the company has been expanding and modifying the tech it offers companies.
In the last six months Straker has seen its share price increase by 50%, and this acquisition is likely to continue to increase Straker’s stock prices.
Ad Astra Buys MontLingo
Mergers and Acquisitions
Silver Springs, Maryland-based translation company Ad Astra has bought MontLingo, a language services provider (LSP) in Brossard, Quebec. MontLingo was founded by Bryan Montpetit. Montpetit is well known in the industry for prior sales roles held at various translation software companies as well as for his stint on the Association of Language Companies (ALC) board.
MontLingo will become Ad Astra’s first office in Canada, with Montpetit staying on as vice president of marketing.
Vaccine Saves Language and Lives, NPR Reports
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 may do more than save your life. It could also save your language. That’s what Cherokee schoolteacher Meda Nix told National Public Radio (NPR) in an interview.
A member of the Cherokee Nation — a sovereign tribal government within the geographic boundaries of the United States — Nix grew up in an English and Cherokee speaking home, then studied Cherokee later as an adult. She is one of only around 2,500 people who speak the language fluently today.
Native Americans — including the Cherokee — have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the US Center for Disease Control, contracting the disease at a rate 3.5 times higher than white Americans. The Cherokee Nation specifically has seen more than 11,000 coronavirus cases and 63 deaths. At least 20 of those who passed were Cherokee speakers, per NPR.
Initially, Nix had not planned on being vaccinated. Then tribal leaders held a Zoom call with covid-19 specialists, urg-ing Cherokees to step up — not just for their lives but for their culture.
Cherokee is a member of the Iroquoian language family. Its writing system does not use an alphabet. Rather, 85 distinct characters represent the sounds used for speaking the language with one character assigned to each discrete syllable found in a word. For this and other reasons, the US Secretary of State considers Cherokee to be a Class IV language. Language clas-sifications refer to the average amount of time required for English speakers to achieve proficiency when studying full time. At 88 weeks, Class IV languages are the most difficult group. Nix teaches Cherokee to fifth graders, starting with vocabulary she learned from her mother about the natural world — such as the names for trees and birds.
Hospital adapts Language Plan after Latino Deaths
Latino patients who don’t speak English are 35% more likely to die from COVID-19, Brigham and Women’s Hos-pital research suggests. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Brigham is teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. In March 2020 — when the pandemic first struck the United States — Brigham patient safety reports started to flag “con-cerns about unequal access to care,” local public radio station WBUR reports. Research has long shown that US Latinos die from COVID-19 at disproportionately higher rates than that of white patients. But journalist Martha Bebinger reports Brigham staff noticed an additional disparity: death among limited-English proficient (LEP) patients was even higher.
“We had an inkling that language was going to be an issue early on,” Karthik Sivashanker, Brigham’s medical director for quality, safety and equity, told Bebinger. “We were getting safety reports saying language is a problem.” So Sivashanker and his team compared minority patient prognoses to that of white patients with similar chronic illnesses and found no difference in COVID-19 death risk. The discrepancy lay in language.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Sivashanker admits the hospital was not linguistically prepared. “We have really amazing interpreter services, but they were starting to get overwhelmed,” he told WBUR — as almost all sectors of American health care then were.
“We didn’t know how to act. We were panicking,” Spanish interpreter Ana Maria Rios-Velez told WBUR. Many of the words we now use to describe and treat covid-19 didn’t exist yet. Interpreters were confused about how close they could get to patients or whether they should even enter patient rooms. They weren’t always given adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). When they were, Rios-Velez said masks got in the way of establishing patient trust. Many Brigham interpreters were told to interpret by phone from home, which WBUR reports proved problematic.
Brigham resolved this issue by shifting its staff interpreters from telephonic interpreting (OPI) to video interpreting over iPad when possible. The hospital also started translating text messages about coronavirus. These messages benefited not just LEP patients, but employees — like limited English janitors. The hospital also added more interpreters.
As to whether increased language access measures have rem-edied Brigham’s LEP death disparity, Sivashanker told WBUR that’s hard to prove: “It’s never going to be as simple as we just didn’t give them enough iPads or translators and that was the only problem and now that we’ve given that, we’ve shown that the mortality difference has gone away.”
Maldonado named Women in Localization President
Women in Localization has a new president: Argentine translation leader Cecilia Maldonado began a one-year term in mid-January.
Founded in 2008, Women in Localization is a nonprofit organization that works to foster a global community for the advancement of both women and the industry by providing networking, education, career advancement, mentoring, and recognition of women’s accomplishments. Membership is free and both women and men are invited to join.
To select its officers, Women in Localization works through a succession committee. The committee interviews existing board members to determine their goals for the group, then selects a slate of candidates accordingly. Candidates are also interviewed then the final list is presented to the board, which votes. Maldonado served as vice-president in 2020 and was confirmed president for the upcoming year during the board’s last voting session.
In 2020, Women in Localization’s “high level objective” was to focus on growing global membership, “which included setting up a virtual/global chapter to focus on our remote members and provid[ing] stronger support to our non-US chapters,” according to Maldonado. Six new chapters were founded according.
“I’m super excited about my new role,” Maldonado said. “After constant growth, 2021 will be a year for restructuring and reorganization, simplifying and streamlining our organi-zational structure so we can set the foundations for enduring success. With 28 chapters in 18 different countries today, we need to step up our game to be ready for the challenges and opportunities growth brings.”
Maldonado is well-known figurehead in the localization field, having cofounded both Translated in Argentina, an industry association, and Think Latin America, a popular conference that later became part of the Globalization and Localization Association’s Think! series. She is also an active volunteer for the Association of Language Companies, a US trade group.
4Q Revenue up for some LSPs, says GALA
Mergers and Acquisitions
The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), an international trade group for language services providers (LSP) and their clients, has released its fourth quarter (Q4) 2020 pulse survey. Starting during the first quarter of 2020, GALA has surveyed LSPs every three months to provide a quick moving look at industry conditions.
According to the Q4 report, business is up internationally, but only by a little. From October to December last year, 53% of surveyed LSPs saw a slight increase in customer demand while 15% said demand “increased dramatically.” 16% registered a decrease.
According to the report, some variance may be geograph-ically-based: “North and Latin America fared best, while Europe, Asia and Oceania reported higher loss in revenue.”
Size may have also impacted growth with LSPs that typically bill $5-10 million per year reporting a Q4 earnings bump. Of large LSP respondents — those annually billing more than $26 million — not a single one reported a revenue decrease. This is interesting considering more than one large LSP let employees go during the coronavirus pandemic. Between October and December last year, 10% of all respondents — regardless of size — laid people off. 6% reduced remaining employees’ salaries and 20% implemented a hiring freeze.
“As a whole,” writes Jessica DiPietro, author of the report, “we can see Q4 was the most prosperous quarter of 2020. But what does that mean in the context of mid-year losses?” When GALA started its pulse surveys first quarter last year, more than 300 LSPs responded. For the Q4 report, only 150 did. “What does it say that the number of those called to answer the survey has halved?” DiPietro asks, “Who we aren’t hearing from could be an indicator of who remains.”
Should Translators be on Clubhouse?
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, translation is in the house — the Clubhouse, that is. Billed as the cool new social media app that all the rich kids are using, Clubhouse is an online chat forum created less than a year ago by repeat startup founders Rohan Seth and Paul Davison. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other forums, you must have an invite to join. Each new member is allowed to invite one other person and on it goes. At the time of writing, more than 2 million people were on the app globally — including well-known names in the translation community like Lingua Greca’s Catherine hristaki, Verbaccino president Kathrin Bussmann, and Mul-tiLingual’s own Renato Beninatto.
The question is, should they be? After raising its venture capital series B on a $1 billion valuation, the app has certainly gotten its share of buzz. “Pretty much every marketing thought leader is on [Clubhouse],” Bussmann said.
“There’s a good size crowd from the loc[alization] industry, lots and lots of marketers and LinkedIn people. And big names, of course,” Christaki said. For example, celebrity marketer Guy Kawasaki recently hosted a chat in the app on entrepreneurship with MultiLingual board member Tucker Johnson. “It’s great to learn from,” Christaki added.
That said, the platform isn’t all that helpful in gaining clients, with Christaki explaining, “The translation chats I’ve seen are mostly about ‘educating’ non loc people and explaining the terms and how global business works.”
Bussmann echoed this sentiment, messaging that she uses the app to “try to educate folks about what [localization] is.”
While this sort of effort may be helpful to industry trade associations — like the American Translators Association (ATA) — the majority of translators and language services providers (LSPs) don’t have the resources bare-bones client education requires. Clubhouse also has considerable data security issues: it not only uploads your contacts’ information without their consent, it also records all conversations. If client information is stored in a translator’s phone, sharing may breach customer confidentiality agreements. In Europe especially, many are concerned Clubhouse’s lack of transparency over data handling violates General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). On Jan-uary 27, Germany’s largest privacy watch group, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations, filed a cease and desist order against the app, adding a lack of German language user agreements to GDPR concerns. And on February 9, China banned Clubhouse, citing data security.
This doesn’t mean the translation community is wrong to use the app. As Christaki mentioned, it does offer continued education benefits and — for an organization large enough to take it on — an interesting challenge regarding client educa-tion. As with any club, just know what you’re signing up for before you join.
No Icelandic for Disney+
Popular streaming service Disney+ has launched in Iceland, but not a single one of the movies it offers has been localized into Icelandic.
Companies that launch in new foreign markets may decide not to localize for a multitude of reasons, the more stereotypi-cal being that executives with purchasing power either don’t ‘believe’ in localization — the “everyone speaks English” philosophy — or, for whatever reason, don’t feel as though translation is accessible. This, translator Thorarinn Eldjarn contends, is part of what makes Disney’s decision not to local-ize so baffling: a multitude of Disney movies have already been dubbed or subtitled in the language, localization taking place at the time of the films’ release. Popular Disney character Don-ald Duck, for example, is already known in Icelandic as Andrés Önd, Winnie the Pooh as Bangsímon. “I do wonder why they don’t at least offer the old versions,” Eldjarn told The New York Times, “Either they think Iceland is too small and unimportant to bother with, or they assume everyone understands English.”
This complete lack of localization has prompted Iceland’s education minister, Lilja Alfredsdottir, to formally complain to Disney, sending a letter this month to The Walt Disney Company’s chief executive officer, Bob Chapek. Despite being spoken by the country’s entire population, Icelandic is considered to be an at-risk language. Among children, English is preferred and Icelandic literacy — as opposed to English language literacy — is down, leaving schools to reevaluate curriculum since students are unable to read the history and literature books traditionally used in the classroom.
Subtitling is required for all foreign shows broadcast in the country; however, streaming services aren’t held to the same governmental rules. Disney has localized its offering for other countries: Films shown on Disney+ are currently dubbed and subtitled in up to 16 different languages, depending on the movie — just not Icelandic.