The 2019 Nimdzi 100 – Language Services Industry Analysis Public  

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Ranking 2019

Top 100 Language Services Companies

Notes:

  • (fy)  fiscal year, figures for the latest financial year (verified with financial reports)
  • (v) verified, data provided by companies
  • (e) estimated revenue, based on extensive industry research

Watchlist

Many of the large language services providers do not disclose, publish, or otherwise reveal their revenue. Furthermore, many organizations are units inside larger corporate groups where a small part of revenue comes from language services, and annual reports do not allow researchers to segment out the translation and interpreting revenue. Examples include clinical research organizations like Icon and communications groups like WPP/Hogarth Worldwide. We provide visibility to such companies on the Watchlist to highlight their impact on the industry.

  • Medium: we believe that the company (or business unit) generated between USD 10 and 30 million in language services revenue in 2018.
  • Large: we believe that the company (or the business unit) generated more than USD 30 million in language services revenue in 2018.

Changelog

New arrivals on the Nimdzi 100

  • Canadian Translation Bureau – USD 82 million. The Translation Bureau provides translations for the government departments and Parliamentarian sectors. One of the largest translation organizations in the world, the Bureau released revenue figures for the first time.
  • Akagane – USD 29 million. This is a documentation company in Japan with a portfolio translation work. Identified through official disclose.
  • MotionPoint – USD 28 million. A website translation company with a web proxy solution and more than 200 people on staff. We estimated MotionPoint’s figures based on their disclosure in US government contracts and interviews.
  • CinemaNext localization group – USD 25 million. A part of Ymagis group that provides services to the Film and TV industry, CinemaNext’s localization operation has been disclosed in an annual report. With USD 25 million in localization revenue, Ymagis should be considered as one of the world’s leading players in this area.
  • Rev.com – USD 21 million. A fast-growing transcription, captioning and subtitling platform that rivals One Hour Translation and Translated by volume of business.
  • QLoc – USD 17 million (e). A Polish game services company created by Russian video game publisher 1C Games. Qloc provides engineering, testing, and localization.
  • Crimson Interactive – USD 14  million. A US-headquartered fast-growing LSP of medium size with focused on tech companies, elearning, books, medical/scientific, and advanced manufacturing.
  • Chizai corporation – USD 13.6 million (e). A patent filing and translation company in Japan.
  • LCI Group – USD 12 million (e). Linguistique Communication Informatique is a French professional services group that provides development and technical writing alongside localization. We estimated the size based on news publications.

Exceeded USD 10 million this year:

  • Summa Linguae – build & buy specialist based in Poland.
  • Language Connect – UK fast-growing LSP acquired by a client company.
  • E2F – French translation specialists headquartered in the United States.
  • STP – specialists in providing Nordic languages to other LSPs.
  • EasyTranslate – Danish platform company that won a USD 79 million interpreting contract.
  • PTIGlobal – translation and technical writing company based in Portland, the United States.
  • Human Science – Japanese IT translations company active in the United States.

Off the radar

Acquired

  1. RR Donnelley Language Services (USD 71.4 million)  – acquired by SDL
  2. Xplanation (USD 31.8 million, Belgium) – acquired by LanguageWire
  3. Telelingua (USD 33.8 million, Belgium)- acquired by Acolad Group
  4. AAC Global (USD 18 million, Finland) – acquired by Acolad Group
  5. HL Trad (USD 18.6 million, France) – acquired by Acolad Group

Moved to Watchlist

The following companies did not release or publish up-to-date figures and we moved them from the Top 100 to Watchlist

  1. Mission Essential Personnel
  2. Global Linguist Solutions
  3. Verztec
  4. SunFlare Co
  5. TvCN
  6. Jonckers
  7. InDemand Interpreting
  8. MultiLingual Solutions
  9. Japanese Assistance Network
  10. Nordisk Undertext
  11. ICA Language Services
  12. Hero Tolk
  13. A.D.T. International

Methodology

In the course of this market analysis, Nimdzi has uncovered prominent LSPs that have previously been invisible in market reports because they do not participate in surveys and are reluctant to disclose their revenue. Nimdzi has employed an investigative approach and invested hundreds of hours into intense research, data collection, and analysis in order to present data that have previously been unavailable.

We are very proud to offer broad access to our data. This report is offered to all who are interested. No paywall. No strings attached. Localization buyers, investors, savvy job seekers, and analysts are welcome to use this document, just don’t forget to reference Nimdzi Insights LLC as the source. Interested parties are free to reach out to us directly should they have any questions.

Below is a summary of the methodology used for the Nimdzi 100 Ranking.

  1. We concentrated on identifying LSPs with USD 10 million or more in revenue with the assistance of in-country experts. In most countries, there are only a few providers of that size, and they are impossible to hide from local competitors because they hire staff, take part in requests for proposals, and employ a large number of translators. Once we identified the relevant LSPs, we researched information that could help us make more accurate estimates of their size and talked to the management directly to verify findings.
  2. We’re listing full company revenue, not just language services revenue. It is not possible to separate these in external sources of information, such as annual reports, press releases, and stock listings which provide the foundation for our work.
  3. This is a live document. Nimdzi reserves the right to publish revisions. We expect some players to submit new or revised financial figures and we may release a second edition of the ranking if material and appropriate.
  4. We use data from the latest fiscal year for each company. This means the numbers for some companies will not reflect 2018 calendar year revenues. We are aware that this may complicate comparisons between companies which is why we have clearly marked companies with non-standard fiscal years in the Nimdzi 100 Ranking.
  5. Our definition of language services includes: translation, transcreation, localization, multilingual desktop publishing (DTP), language quality assurance, linguistic testing, multilingual copywriting, multilingual technical writing, language project management, interpreting, video remote interpreting, telephone interpreting, linguist verification and staffing, media localization, versioning, adaptation, subtitling, voice over, dubbing, machine translation, training machine translation engines, cultural consulting, and related services.
  6. Growth rates are calculated in the company’s reporting currency. For example, a German company that reports revenue in euros has its growth rate calculated in euros. But when we rank it in the table against other companies we use USD as a common denominator.
  7. We use average annual currency conversion rates to US dollars for each day of trading in 2018.

The industry

Overview

The language industry in 2019 is ramping up to deal with increased volumes. Leading translation buyers in software, pharmaceutical, intellectual property, and manufacturing sectors add languages, start localizing videos for marketing and training. They experiment with machine translation to deal with volumes of user content far too large for professional translators to cope with. In interpreting, Western governments spend more on accessibility in healthcare and in the justice systems, and the effort to optimize the spend leads to large interpreting contracts changing hands. In media localization, the explosion of online streaming production leads to unprecedented challenges of scaling and opens the space to new providers.

Vendor companies keep growing steadily at double-digit rates, racing to build sales, win new enterprise clients, and capture niches with fast growth, such as video and data services. They acquire other companies with quality portfolios confident in making a long-term profit on these deals or being able to resell in three to five years. Smaller companies keep growing, wary of price pressures and the threat of technology. Technology startups appear and get funding every year, and artificial intelligence and neural computing have become an inevitable part of nearly every business conversation, but they have not disrupted the industry in a meaningful way — yet.

1,650+ companies

With at least 140,200 legal entities registered globally with “translation and interpreting” main activity, only about one company in eighty five in the language services business makes it past USD 1 million mark. 1,073 of them are based in Europe, the US, and Canada.

USD 53.5 billion

The estimated market size for language services that includes translation, interpreting, media localization, and respective technology. Not all of the volume is outsourced to commercial providers, landing the addressable market size at 60% of the total.

398,000+ professionals

Including 78,000 language service provider employees across the US, Europe, and Canada and an estimated 250,000 full-time professional translators, interpreters, and subtitlers.

One million colleagues

Including core professionals, personnel on the buyer side, and the casual and part-time translators, the language industry includes more than a million people in its gravitational pull.

531 technologies

We have identified 531 distinct language services technology brands available commercially so far, and numbers keep growing every year. Together, their sales reach about USD 780 million a year, about 1.5% of the industry total revenue.

Leading business models and sectors

We have identified six main business models that led to the development of the leading companies in the industry, at least in terms of revenue.

GLOBAL TRANSLATION MULTILINGUAL VENDORS

Provide specialist translation and localization into multiple languages

  • TransPerfect
  • Lionbridge
  • SDL
  • Welocalize
  • Star Group

National interpreting leaders

Provide remote interpreting at scale to public sector and healthcare

  • Language Line
  • CyraCom
  • Stratus Video
  • Semantix
  • Maarti

Public sector and defense contractors

Win and hold large-scale government contracts for military and civil offices

  • Mission Essential Personnel 
  • Global Linguist Solutions
  • thebigword
  • MVM
  • SOS International

Media localization powerhouses

Dub and subtitle film and TV series for Hollywood and Netflix

  • SDI Media
  • Deluxe Media
  • BTI Studios
  • Voice and Script International
  • IYUNO Media Group
  • Dubbing Brothers

Multilingual Communications Groups

Develop multilingual advertising marketing content, websites, videos 

  • Prodigious
  • Hogarth Worldwide
  • Datawords
  • Accenture

Buy-and-build language services groups

Companies that have become large by acquiring others

  • RWS
  • Keywords Studios
  • Acolad Group
  • Appen
  • Summa Linguae

Other promising types of companies

Documentation specialists — companies that write technical documentation and then translate it. This model is especially popular in Japan, where these services are bundled with printing, and in Germany. Examples include Crestec, Yamagata, and itl AG in Germany. Ubiqus in France derives about half of their revenue from legal documentation services. 

Video game services companies — capitalizing on a long-term boom in video games, these companies provide services to developers and publishers, including localization, testing and porting games from iOS to Android.  The list of leading providers includes Poletowin Pitcrew Holdings, Keywords Studios, Testronic, Qloc, and Mogi Group. While the whole spectrum of services needed by game developers makes up a market worth billions of dollars, we estimate localization revenue at USD 330 million a year.

Platforms — online translation companies with automated workflows. Clients can buy and pay via self-service interfaces without speaking to a human, and the company grows by increasing web traffic. Examples include One Hour Translation, Translated, Rev.com, tolingo, Lingo24, and Gengo, the latter recently acquired by Lionbridge.  Together, all the companies in this category generate under USD 150 million in revenue, which is less than any company in the top 10.

Market sized at USD 53.5 billion

We estimate the market size for language services in 2019 at USD 53.5 billion. This includes core services such as translation, interpreting, localization of software, website and multimedia, including film and TV series, and many smaller ones including multilingual marketing, multilingual DTP, eDiscovery, linguistic testing and respective technologies. Translation services account for more than 50% of the total revenue, while the technology part barely reaches 1.5%.

When calculating the addressable market for their services, commercial providers should limit the opportunity to 60% of the total figure. First, not all of the services volume is outsourced, a significant amount is performed by in-house teams on the buyer side. For example, the European Union has about 4,000 staff translators and interpreters. Second, the market size calculation includes revenues for both translation companies and their suppliers, i.e. a part of the revenue is counted twice.

Projected to reach USD 70 billion by 2023

The market is projected to grow at the compound average growth rate of 6.8% in the next five years and will reach USD 70 billion in 2023, reflecting growth in the demand. This estimate is slightly more conservative compared on our previous projection of CAGR 7.4%. The industry just went through two years of more rapid growth and the previous pattern of growth suggests a slight slowdown.

The actual growth rates will significantly vary from country to country, and depend heavily on exchange rates of national currencies versus the US dollar. For example, the market in Europe has been growing at 6.13% average in the last 5 years in euros, and only 3.1% in USD equivalent, however, it made a 9% leap in 2017 due to the weakening of the dollar after the election in the US. Brazil has been growing at 5.8% CAGR in 2014-2016 in the local currency, and at the same time, it has actually decreased in size at the rate of -13% a year in the USD equivalent.

Top companies concentrate 20.2% of industry revenue

The language services industry remains very fragmented, although consolidation is making strides. All the companies included in this report accounted for 20.2% of the language industry in 2018.

In absolute figures, the 182 companies tracked by Nimdzi earned USD 10.8 billion over the latest financial year. The top 10 companies were responsible for more revenue than the next 90.

  • USD 3.9 billion in the top 10
  • USD 3.3 billion in the next 90
  • USD 3.6 billion approximately in the Watchlist

The industry is still composed of companies that are predominately smaller than USD 10 million.

For example, we found only one LSP of this size in South Korea, while the official statistics put the country’s LSP revenue at USD 192 million. In Brazil, we didn’t find any LSPs of this size, through the revenue for language services exceeded USD 600 million back in 2014, according to the national statistics authority. The market in Russia is worth approximately USD 302 million, however, only three companies managed to grow beyond USD 10 million, and are now responsible for 19% of the country’s volume. Same story in India, Turkey, Indonesia, Mexico and other countries where labor costs are lower.

Geographic composition

Large LSPs are predominately headquartered in North America and in Western Europe, where there is access to international clients with global expansion spend.

Out of 182 medium-to-large-sized companies identified in 2019, 36% are headquartered in the United States, and 38% are in Europe. There are more Asian LSPs this year, companies from China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan represent close to 18% of the positions on the top list.

The Middle East and Africa have not yet produced an LSP that could be included in the Nimdzi 100.

Language services providers with USD 10 million or more in revenue by HQ country

Growth dynamics

17.5%

Nimdzi 100 Growth Rate Including Acquisitions

10.8%

Organic growth among the Nimdzi 100

6.8%

Global market
CAGR

An excellent year

2018 was a momentous year for large language service providers. The revenues of the leading companies grew by 18% from 2017 to 2018, significantly more than the previous year’s rate of 12%. The increase largely comes from mergers and acquisitions, reflecting consolidation in the LSP business. The top 10 companies on the Nimdzi 100 now generate more revenue than the next 90.

The organic growth rate among the leaders was markedly lower. We recorded a 10.8% growth rate year-on-year over a sample of medium to large traditional translation and interpreting companies with combined revenues in excess of USD 3 billion. Due to a stronger position, and expertise in sales, the leading companies grew faster than the general market and gained market share.

The cumulative growth rate for the translation and interpreting industry was approximately 7%. This is a linear projection based on statistical data obtained for more than 120,000 companies. In 2019, Nimdzi reached out to the national statistics offices of 80 countries, requesting data for companies under the “Translation and Interpreting” activity codes. We used the official data as a basis for our projections.

Top 30 fastest-growing LSPs above USD 10 million

Currency fluctuations boosted growth rates for Europeans

We calculated growth based on revenues expressed in USD, using the average annual exchange rate for each day of trading. As a result, companies that reported revenue in EUR, GBP, and DKK benefited from a 3.5-4.5% boost to growth in the equivalent USD. At the same time, companies that reported in RUR, CAD, INR, and BRL saw a negative growth impact from currency fluctuations. Consult this table to see the impact on growth for all relevant currencies.

Buy-and-build flourished

The French Acolad Group (rebranded from Technicis), backed by the private equity firm Naxicap, took the crown as the fastest-growing company in the industry this year. Leaping from EUR 44 million to EUR 117 million in a single year through the acquisition of Telelingua (Belgium), AAC Global (Finland), Arancho Doc (Italy), TextMaster and HL Trad (France), the group grew a staggering 178% in constant currency.

Thanks to this buy-and-build model, there are now European language services giants over USD 100 million in revenue based in the UK, France, and the Nordics. Curiously, we do not observe a similar phenomenon of growth in Germany, which is widely regarded as the strongest European economy.

In addition to the Acolad Group, some of the major acquisitions in 2018 were carried out by Keywords Studios (8 deals), SDL (one large deal with RR Donnelley LS), LanguageWire (Xplanation), and RWS (although we included Moravia’s revenue in the previous ranking already). Previous M&A has also favored mid-sized Summa Linguae (Poland), Straker Translations (Australia), data services group Appen (Australia) and LiveWords (Netherlands).

Traditional translation generalists maintained double-digit growth

The industry’s largest LSP, TransPerfect, grew 14.6%, and brought in almost USD 90 million organically, an amazing feat. However, it is not the only example of good growth. Other traditional translation companies with an established position, a portfolio of clients in regulated industries, and a strong sales force have achieved above average performance.

Media localization turned out as a mixed bag

The growth leader of the previous ranking, IYUNO Media Group, maintained a rapid growth pace and added USD 23 million in revenue, which exceeds their previous year gains in absolute figures, but is more modest percentage-wise.

Some of the other mid-sized media localization specialists did well, too. Voice and Script International (United Kingdom) grew 35%. CinemaNext (France) added about 17% in localization revenue, but sent another post-production unit in their group, Eclair, into restructuring because it was unprofitable. US-based transcription and subtitling platform Rev.com demonstrated a 40% growth.

In contrast, the incumbent largest companies in the media space reported more modest growth rates. The global market leader, SDI Media, grew a mere 3%. BTI Studios increased by around EUR 8 million from an existing portfolio of EUR 92 million. However, their new contracts indicate a much higher growth in 2019. Dubbing Brothers reports lower revenue figures than 2 years ago. Deluxe Media, a USD 100+ million provider of media localization, didn’t disclose any figures, but they went through a period of restructuring and reshuffling the senior management team.

There is no doubt about the bright prospects in media localization: driven by new streaming platform launches by Disney, Warner, and Facebook, and by drift from text to video in worldwide marketing communication, the market for video localization will grow. However, the suppliers will benefit from this growth unevenly.

Interpreting companies juggled public sector contracts

Top US interpreting providers LanguageLine and Cyracom reported modest growth, 6.6%, and 5.7% respectively. LanguageLoop (Australia) increased by 2.2% in constant currency. Following the ebb in the business of interpreting for asylum seekers, Nordic leader Semantix has experienced a slowdown in their interpreting business and stepped out of an USD 82 million government contract due to price pressures.

In contrast, some other interpreting companies are on roll. The above-mentioned Swedish public sector contract went to medium-sized HeroTolk, which can potentially double or triple the company’s size next year. In Denmark, mid-sized EasyTranslate started reaping the benefits of a USD 79 million public sector interpreting contract, also on a course to double its revenue. In the UK, thebigword Group enjoyed a 32.5% growth rate, another excellent year after taking over Ministry of Justice public sector contract from Capita Translation and Interpreting two years ago.

Healthcare interpreting specialists seem to enjoy stable growth in business. As an example, US-based remote interpreting company Stratus Video exceeded the USD 50 million mark, growing 68% over a two-year period. Globo achieved a similar growth rate – 68.5% over a two-year period by focusing on healthcare interpreting in the United States.

Emerging niche in data services

Appen’s leap from USD 128 million to 272.2 million is largely attributed to the acquisition of rival LeapForce in the United States. However, there is organic growth underneath driven by record investments into artificial intelligence. Data labeling and annotation, speech data gathering and transcription, chatbot scripting — these are some of the services that Appen provides.

Traditional LSPs are making a foray into this space: Lionbridge made machine intelligence one of their key areas, Pactera says its data business exceeds USD 10 million, and they built a proprietary production platform for this unit. Welocalize is going through a similar process as well.

The language industry surprises again

The language industry continues to grow at a brisk pace. In 2019, the data shows record revenues again, a record number of providers in the market, more jobs, and more content rendered into another language than ever. This comes contrary to all the hype around the threat of machine translation and the continued price pressures.

As reported by ByteLevel Research in The 2019 Web Globalization Report Card, “despite all the talk of walls and Brexit, companies continue to expand their global reach. The average number of languages supported by the leading global brands is now 32 languages—more than double the number of languages from a decade ago.”

The industry is evolving. New service lines emerge, and pockets of growth pop up.  Activities that are common today, such as post-editing and MT training, game porting, eDiscovery, and machine intelligence did not exist ten years ago. Nevertheless, the underlying basic translation and interpreting services are still on the rise.

The core of the business remains immutable for now. Managed professional linguists enabling businesses to expand into new markets, comply with regulations and get traction with local customers.

So far, so good.

To add LSPs to upcoming May 2019 Revised edition and for other updates, contact research@nimdzi.com.

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