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THE 2024 NIMDZI 100

Market



Market size and five-year growth projection

Our estimate for 2021 reflected a one-off increase of 10% compared to 2020 attributed to the recovery effects from the pandemic. In March 2022, we projected a CAGR of 7.0% for the forthcoming years. After careful analysis of the outcomes from this year’s ranking research, we have now revised that projection to 5.0% for the actual market growth in 2023. This adjustment is particularly due to the GenAI-induced wait-and-see approach of buyers and austerity measures due to uncertain macroeconomic conditions especially outside of the United States.

Despite these factors, considering the conventional resilience of the language industry and the optimistic responses of LSPs in this year’s Nimdzi 100 research, we maintain our prediction that the market will sustain a CAGR of 7.0% in the upcoming years, reaching $95.3 billion by the year 2028. 

We estimate that the language services industry reached USD 67.9 billion in 2023 and project it to grow to USD 72.7 billion in 2024 and, at 7% CAGR, to USD 95.3 billion by 2028.

Five-year growth projection

When calculating the addressable market for their services, commercial providers should limit the opportunity to 60% of the total figure. Firstly, not everything is outsourced, as a significant portion of the overall volume is performed by in-house teams on the buyer side. For example, the European Union employs about 5,000 staff translators and interpreters. Secondly, the market size calculation includes revenues for both translation companies and their suppliers, i.e., a part of the revenue is counted twice.

Top 100 companies concentrate 20.5% of industry revenue

Although consolidation continues, the language services industry remains fragmented. The top 100 companies in our ranking accounted for just 20.5% of the overall language industry in 2023 — an increase of 0.9 percentage points from 2022 (19.6%).

In absolute figures, the companies ranked by Nimdzi earned over USD 13.2 billion in their latest fiscal year. The top 10 companies were responsible for over 10.5% of that total.

  • USD 6.8 billion in the top 10
  • USD 6.5 billion in the next 90

Despite ongoing consolidation at the top, the industry is still predominantly made up of companies smaller than USD 10 million.

Growth of the top 100 ranking positions

Our data show that the combined revenue of the 100 largest LSPs has increased, though more moderately than in the previous period. Between the 2023 and 2024 rankings, the combined revenues of the top 100 positions in our ranking increased by 5.0%, compared to 17.1% in the previous period. 

The combined revenue of the companies comprising the top 10 positions in our 2024 ranking rose 3.2% compared to the top 10 listed in 2023. The most vigorous growth was experienced by the segment of companies comprising the top 51-100 positions, whose combined revenues increased by 11.3% as compared to those holding the same positions last year. The top 20 positions grew by 4.8%, and the combined revenue of the top 50 positions increased by 4.0% compared to last year’s ranking. 

Growth by ranking segment between 2022 and 2023

Growth by ranking segment, three-year comparison

Revenues of the top 100 ranking positions from 2018 to 2023

A closer look at this year’s top 100

In this year’s ranking, 56 of the top 100 largest LSPs in the world reported various degrees of growth and 35 had negative growth, with 9 companies represented with flat revenues. This is a slight change from last year, where 63 companies from the top 100 reported positive growth, 35 had negative growth, and two reported flat revenue. This is also indicating a slight slowdown in the growth of the industry.

The most productive companies in the industry

Looking at the productivity of the top 100 LSPs, the average revenue per employee in 2023 was about USD 226,900. In 2022, the average was USD 229,300, so this is a negligible decrease in average productivity of about 1.0%. The average productivity for the top 20 was USD 210,915 in 2022, and the top 10 produced USD 300,236 per employee on average. It is worth noting that three companies from the top 10 in our ranking are among the ten most productive companies this year, same as last year. These are translate plus, Keywords Studios, and PTSGI.

Considering company size, six out of the 10 most productive companies in 2023 employed between 25 and 99 professionals. The most productive company — translate plus — has between 250 and 499 people on staff. 

It is also worth noting that there is an overrepresentation of interpreting companies in this list. Six out of the 10 most productive companies in 2023 – Global Talk, Uphealth-Martti (being rebranded to Cloudbreak), Propio Language Services, Språkservice Sverige, DigitalTolk, Linguava Interpreters, and Multicultoral NWS – all derive a large portion of their revenue from interpreting services. This is likely because the management of external interpreters has a lower overhead and less need for in-house staff compared to the supply chain of translation-related services.

Productivity rankCompanyCountryProductivity (USD per employee)2023 Revenue (USD million)Size class (number of employees)
1Translate PlusUnited Kingdom1,040,000379.6250 to 499
2Global TalkNetherlands1,015,60076.250 to 99
3Uphealth-MarttiUnited States887,50071.050 to 99
4Propio Language ServicesUnited States781,250125.0100 to 249
5Språkservice SverigeSweden713,80034.325 to 49
6Keywords StudiosIreland703,500844.21000+
7DigitalTolkSweden625,00030.625 to 49
8Linguava InterpretersUnited States577,80026.025 to 49
9PTSGITaiwan508,700353.0500 to 999
10Multicultural NSWAustralia497,00039.350 to 99

The 10 fastest-growing LSPs in our ranking

Below is a list of the ten fastest-growing LSPs from the top 100 in 2023. We can only congratulate these providers on their unique achievements. A deeper analysis indicates that the main driver of the outstanding growth of these companies is organic growth in their respective markets and verticals, with the single verified exception of Globo, who made two in-trade acquisitions in 2023. The fact that interpreting companies dominate the list of fastest-growing LSPs infers that services for interpreting, both in Europe and especially in the United States, are a major source of growth in the industry. In terms of verticals, healthcare, finance, education, and government sectors have shown the highest growth rates in the past year for these companies.

RankCompanyGrowth (%)2023 Revenue (USD million)Growth notes
9PTSGI124353.0Mainly organic, growth from translation in Asia
38GLOBO Language Solutions9671.1Organic growth from interpreting in the US and two acquisitions
54DA Languages8546.6Organic growth from interpreting in the UK
88Linguava Interpreters6326.0Organic growth from interpreting in the US
34Global Talk4676.2Organic growth from interpreting in Europe
93Hanna Interpreting Services3222.5Organic growth from interpreting in the US
23Propio Language Services30125.0Organic growth from interpreting in the US
80Transvoice2930.0Organic growth from interpreting in Europe
24STAR729113.6Organic growth in Europe
59Toppan Digital Language2739.9Organic growth in Europe

Growth of select providers between 2017 and 2023

Aside from including a top-10 ranking by growth, we also include an overview of the growth of 10 select providers in the industry since we started publishing the Nimdzi 100.

Growth of company revenues between 2017 and 2023 (in USD million)

As the data show, when observed across the years, all of these LSPs (who, at one point or another, were among the top 10 in the world) had a growth streak. For the first time, two of these LSPs reported a back-to-back revenue decline. RWS’s slight drop is consistent with last year’s results and currency fluctuations. The biggest losses in 2023 were incurred by Appen, who continued to lose significant ground in the AI data space after 2022’s “challenging market and macro conditions” lost their contract with Google, one of the major customers in the field.

Other significant revenue losses include Iyuno, whose misfortune strongly relates to the Hollywood strikes impacting the entertainment industry, and Acolad, where the vast majority of revenue decrease is attributable to a refocusing effort resulting in spinoffs of non-profitable business units (reportedly, their organic revenue decrease was under 2%). At the same time, Keywords, LanguageLine, and translate plus show promising, strong continued growth. 

Women-run and women-owned LSPs

This year, 13 companies in our ranking are women-run or women-owned. In addition, there are also some notable mentions from our Just Shy and Watchlist sections that did not make the top 100 list this year. Most of these women-run or owned companies are based in North America, followed closely by Europe (nine and seven, respectively), and three companies are based in Asia.

RankCompanyLeaderCountry2023 Revenue (USD million)
15AMN Language ServicesJacobia Solomon
President
United States260.0
31CQ fluencyElisabete Miranda
Founder CEO
United States86.0
34Global TalkAstrid Van Rossum
CEO
Netherlands76.2
43TranslatedIsabelle Andrieu
Co-founder & Chairwoman
Italy62.0
44Certified Languages InternationalKristin Quinlan
CEO
United States61.1
50AkorbiClaudia Mirza
Founder CEO
United States55.1
69JonckersSilke Zschweigert
CEO
Belgium33.6
71Traductions Serge Bélair (TRSB)Mary Kazamias
CEO
Canada32.7
75Alpha CRCIsabelle Weiss
Owner
United Kingdom30.8
84Glodom Language SolutionsShirley Li
CEO
China27.8
93Hanna Interpreting ServicesJennifer Hanna
Founder CEO
United States22.5
95SupertextKristy Sakai CEO Creative
Laura Fernandez CEO Corporate
Switzerland20.0
96Language Link CorpMarisa Gillio
CEO
United States19.7
Just ShyTarjama&Nour Al Hassan
Founder and CEO
UAE16.4
Just Shymt-gGerlinde Bendig
Founder and Managing Director
Germany14.8
Just ShyHansem GlobalYang Sook Kim
Founder CEO
South Korea14.1
Just Shyitl Institut für technische LiteraturChristine Wallin-Felkner
Founder
Germany14.1
WatchlistMasterWord ServicesLudmila Golovine
President & CEO
United States
WatchlistValbin CorporationVolbona Sherifi
CEO
United States

Overall, 13% of the industry's largest 100 companies are women-led. While this number may seem small, when compared to the fact that ~10% of Fortune 500 companies were women-led in 2023, it shows that the language industry continues to outshine other industries in terms of leadership gender diversity.

As the industry continues to grow and evolve, it is crucial that companies prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to ensure that women have equal opportunities to ascend to leadership positions. By fostering a more inclusive environment and actively working to close the gender gap in leadership, the language services industry can set an example for other sectors and unlock the full potential of its diverse talent pool.

Women-led LSPs grow faster

While women-led companies only make up 13% of the Nimdzi Top 100 LSPs for 2024, these companies are punching above their weight when it comes to growth. For the LSPs in the Nimdzi 100 ranking with verified data, women-led LSPs grew at an impressive average rate of 9.8%, significantly outpacing the average growth rate of 5.0% for all top 100 LSPs. This trend is widespread, with 71% of women-led companies with verified data showing growth from 2022 to 2024.

Notable women-led LSPs with ~20% or higher growth

Several women-led LSPs stand out for their remarkable growth over the past two years:

  • Global Talk, led by CEO Astrid Van Rossum, climbed from #49 to #34, growing from $52.3 million to $76.2 million, a 46% increase.
  • Hanna Interpreting Services, led by Founder and CEO Jennifer Hanna, saw its revenue rise from $17 million to $22.5 million, a 32% growth.
  • AMN Language Services, led by President Jacobia Solomon, grew from $216 million to $260 million, a 20% increase.
  • Glodom Language Solutions from China, led by CEO Shirley Li, expanded from $23.2 million to $27.8 million, a 20% growth.

These impressive growth figures demonstrate that women-led LSPs are not only holding their own in the industry but are actively driving its growth and success. It's important to recognize and applaud the significant contributions these women-led companies are making to the language services industry.

Top services and verticals in the market

In this year’s survey, we asked companies to select the services and verticals they operate in. The results show that the services most commonly provided by LSPs are translation and localization (97.0%), machine translation and post-editing (83.3%), and subtitling (71.4%). Onsite interpreting and copywriting, transcreation, and content creation are tied on fourth place (60.1%), followed closely by desktop publishing and graphic design (59.5%), dubbing, voiceovers, and audio services (58.9%), remote interpreting (56.5%), and transcription (56.0%). Language testing & QA (editing and/or review) services (45.8%) close out the top 10 services provided.

The big movers from last year’s list are interpreting services – both onsite and remote – that broke the 50% barrier in mentions with a 13 and 8 percentage point increase, respectively, and content creation services (copywriting, transcreation, and content creation), seeing a 6 percentage point increase.

Considering the split by verticals, our survey results show that technology, IT & software (65.3%), life sciences (64.7%), and financial and legal (63.5%) are the three most prevalent segments in terms of industry participation, replicating last year’s results. Manufacturing (60.0%), education & e-learning (58.2%), and marketing (53.5%) complete the top six positions of segments. These results are consistent with last year’s results.

When looking at these data, it is important to bear in mind that these results represent a numerical count, showing how many respondents offer a certain service or operate in a certain vertical. They do not reflect the market share by revenue. 

The interpreting sector

The interpreting segment showed the highest levels of growth in the industry in 2023 – 7 out of the top 10 fastest-growing LSPs are focused on providing interpreting services. Multilingualism and language equality are strong values both in Europe and the US in regulated verticals, especially in healthcare and government engagements. As unfortunate as the underlying reasons are, immigration and war always spur additional demand for verbal communication in diverse languages, resulting in the strong performance of interpreting LSPs.

Our research interviews with leading interpreting providers indicate a bullish attitude towards 2024. Demand is likely to stay high if not increase both in the US and in Europe, and onsite interpreting is on the rise again after the COVID lockdown. Growth and potential in the sector have been attracting investment into LSPs focused on interpreting. Backed by the finances of private equity, players on both sides of the ocean (or pond, depending on which side you are on) are eyeing each others’ markets.

At the same time, machine interpreting is generally not considered a threat. Instead, major players are actively pursuing the implementation of MI as an extension of their service offerings without a present fear of cannibalizing the human interpreting revenue streams, which are – currently, at least – moated by regulatory statutes in core verticals. While the SAFE AI Task Force initiative (born in 2023) aims at maintaining a safe distance from MI, there is little doubt that it is finding its way into the mainstream in select verticals in both the private and public sectors. 

Looking ahead, we expect further double-digit percentage growth in interpreting amidst fierce competition, a high likelihood of further consolidation, and major announcements of MI launches from the top-tier interpreting providers in 2024

Business challenges providers face

We like to say that the language services industry is impervious to crises. There is always a need for language services, which is why our industry tends to outpace the global economy. At the same time, there is no denying that 2023 was wrought with challenges in the likes of economic uncertainties, reducing order volumes and GenAI as a disruptor of plans and trends. 

Following a reserved second half of 2023, LSPs reported significant optimism for the future in our survey. More than two-thirds of respondents indicated that their revenues would increase in Q1 of 2024, thanks to a general expectation that demand will recover for language services (58.6% anticipate this). Only 11.5% said their revenue will likely decrease in the same period.

Changes in revenue

Taking a closer look, optimism for Q1’24 is visible regardless of Q4’23 results when we compare the same LSPs’ responses for Q3 actuals and 2024 expectations. In fact, those LSPs that experienced a revenue drop in the last quarter of 2023 are more optimistic than those whose revenues stayed the same. Unsurprisingly, LSPs that have experienced growth have the highest expectation that it will continue in the first quarter of 2024 and onwards.

Growth is indeed the first and foremost challenge indicated by our survey respondents, followed by the need to innovate with processes and technologies (although not with proprietary ones, listed second from last) and price pressure. 

What are your key business challenges in 2024?

Investigating the actions providers take to mitigate macroeconomic risks, the rankings of the most important strategies stayed the same as in our report last year. However, the overall picture shows an improving set of conditions, as fewer LSPs are pressured to take actions on the cost side, such as increasing salaries of staff (37.2%, down from 53.4% last year), reducing office space (17.8%, down from 32.9%), cutting vendor prices (17.8%, down from 23.3%), and reducing staff (13.2%, down from 17.8% last year). 

What strategies are you planning to roll out to offset rising inflation and economic pressure?

Although pricing pressure is a top three most important business challenge, less than one out of every 5 LSP experienced a decrease in price in the last quarter of 2023, and more than two-thirds maintained prices, indicating a strong resilience in pricing levels. In addition, more than a quarter of our respondents look forward to a price increase in the next quarter(s). 

Changes in pricing




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