Smartling's Jack Welde Ensures Your Website Doesn't Get Lost In Translation

Today's top story from France's Le Monde is about Hilary Clinton's possible future in the White House. As translated to English from French by Google Translate, it begins: "The door opens and Hillary seems unexpectedly. Pantsuit finely striped black, blond hair before it seems, and certainly longer. Secretary of State has escaped from the top Europe-United States, which ends at the White House, November 28."

Say what? Obviously, there's much room for improvement in online translation services—and a huge market for it, with 70% of Internet users (or 1.4 billion people) claiming a language other than English as their native tongue. 

Enter Smartling, a translation delivery network that helps companies large and small translate their websites into other languages using a variety of tactics including professional translators, volunteer translators, and computer translation. 

"Smartling has accepted the audacious mission of trying to make the entire Internet truly multilingual," says Smartling CEO Jack Welde. "Language is one of the last true barriers on the web; our view is that five years from now, having an English-only website is going to feel about as dumb as not having a website at all."

The company, which earlier this year raised $10 million in series B funding, counts Scribd, SurveyMonkey, and Foursquare among a roster of clients that's growing by 300% a month. 

Welde's unique background—he grew up traveling the globe in a military family, studied computer engineering at Penn, and then spent nine years as an Air Force pilot—put him in a unique position to create Smartling, bringing together passions that include travel, culture, computer engineering, and language. 

Watch the video below to learn more about what inspires Welde and Smartling to make the web truly work on a global scale. 

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[Image: Flickr user Filipao 28]

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  • helmutmaertin

    Great idea and I hope it works!

    Translating software is a fantastic idea, that really only works for words or short phrases and often needs  some open minded interpretation applied.

    We get native speakers to translate most of our content and only use software to translate between grammatically similar languages, such as Simplified Chinese to Traditional Chinese.

    Good luck to Jack and his team!

    Helmut QPI Ltd 

  • David Kaiser, PhD

    The example above is pretty spot on. Right now, machine translation is good for getting the gist of an article...but not much more. Take it from a former computational linguist, don't trust google translate yet. 

    David Kaiser, PhD
    Executive Coach & CEO