Smartling lands $24 million for cloud-based translation software

How do you say "disrupt" in Mandarin?
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

Four-year-old Smartling, the New York-based enterprise translation software company, announced on Wednesday that it raised $24 million in investment.

The funds come courtesy a star-studded Series C funding round that includes Tenaya Capital, Harmony Partners, Venrock, U.S. Venture Partners, IDG Ventures, First Round Capital and Felicis Ventures.

The U.S. company is banking on the fact that the language services sector can be better—a lot better—and improve the way companies deal with customers across borders and continents. To that end, it's plowing money into its offerings and global operations with zeal in an attempt to continue the momentum it already has underway.

(In the last 12 months, the company has tripled revenues, added 120 enterprise customers and doubled its employee count. It has designs to hire another 100 employees in 2014. Scale ain't nothin' but a number.)

Smartling sells its wares to a fairly high-profile group: Shutterstock, Pinterest, Vimeo, Dropbox, Spotify, GoPro, TED, SurveyMonkey, Uber, Optimizely, Glassdoor, Limelight Networks and Twilio were all cited in the company's funding announcement. 

But the real value will be in winning over older, larger enterprises that have legacy implementations of localization/translation software from vendors such as TransPerfect or Lionbridge. "Smartling is the only significant SaaS company in a space traditionally dominated by service agencies and decades-old, on-prem software," founder and CEO Jack Welde said. Duolingo and Cloudwords are also vying for a piece of the pie.

As with most other SaaS companies, Smartling pitches its platform as fast, flexible, streamlined, user-friendly and data-driven. (Oh, and that other thing: comparably affordable.) Smartling allows businesses to select the best translation method and quality and specify a particular translation agency, freelance professional translator, volunteer, internal team, et cetera. It also carries HIPAA, PCI Level 1 and SOC 2 certifications. 

With "China" on every executive's lips and "global" practically a requirement of doing business in the modern age (no matter how small the company), translation and localization of websites, applications, products and other content is vital. 

Will Smartling come out on top? We'll find out.

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