Unbabel Raises $5 Million to Bring Artificial Intelligence to Global Translation Market

The Y Combinator-backed startup’s Series A round is led by Notion Capital and Caixa Capital
Unbabel’s unique approach brings human-quality translations to conversational content

October 31, 2016 — Unbabel Inc., which combines machine learning with crowdsourced human translations, has raised $5 million from lead investors Notion Capital and Caixa Capital, with participation from existing investors including Faber Ventures and Schilling Capital Partners. This brings the three-year-old company’s total funding to over $8 million.

The company will use the funds to build out the “Unbabel Language Engine” — its proprietary technology platform that combines Natural Language Processing, artificial intelligence, quality estimation algorithms, and a global network of 40,000 human post-editors. This will enable cost-effective, quality translations for conversational content in emails and chat on a global scale.

“With a $38 billion market in translation services, it’s clear that the expense is huge for any company looking to do business in a multilingual world. However, this market is comprised of an incredibly long tail of high-cost, low-tech, and massively inefficient solutions where the business model is basically ‘throw more humans at it,’ explained Vasco Pedro, Co-Founder and CEO of Unbabel.

“We still think humans play a hugely important role in the process, but much further up the stack, atop cutting edge tech that does 95% of the job for them. With this approach, we can translate text faster and cheaper, including types of content that were previously seen as untranslatable like emails and chat.”

“We’re hugely impressed by Unbabel’s core technology and its early traction with customers like Pinterest, Microsoft and Skyscanner, as well as the potential for rapid growth through platforms such as Zendesk and Salesforce,” said Chris Tottman, Partner at Notion Capital.

“We’re dedicated to building Europe’s next category-leading SaaS companies — Unbabel is the undisputed leader in this fast-moving sector, redefining what can be translated and how, and unlocking enormous value in the process. Imagine how much higher global GDP would be if we had no language barriers.”

A graduate of Y Combinator’s 2014 Winter Batch, Unbabel offers APIs for easy integration with companies’ internal content creation and translation workflows, with dedicated integrations for Zendesk and Salesforce that enable customer service representatives to deliver multilingual support with just a few clicks.

Caixa Capital’s Stephan Morais added, “Unbabel is creating fundamentally new ways for businesses to interact with consumers across language barriers and borders. Our investment in Unbabel reinforces Caixa Capital’s leading role in funding the best of Portugal’s new tech companies.”

“We’re incredibly excited to have closed this new round of investment, and happier still to have a new partner in Notion Capital, who bring a wealth of experience and expertise in Cloud and SaaS and can help us to supercharge our growth efforts and explore new routes to market,” said Unbabel CEO’s Vasco Pedro.

“We’ve already brought the cost of human translation down by a factor of ten over the past two years, and we’re going to do the same again in the next two.”

Unbabel
Unbabel builds multilingual understanding between companies and their customers. The Unbabel Language Engine combines machine translation with crowdsourced post-editing to deliver “Translation as a Service”, dramatically reducing cost and maintaining human-quality results. The company was founded in August 2013, graduated from Y Combinator’s 2014 Winter Batch, and has offices in Lisbon, Portugal and San Francisco, California.

Caixa Capital
Caixa Capital is the Private Equity and Venture Capital fund management company of Portugal’s largest banking group Caixa Geral de Depósitos, present in over 20 countries. Caixa Capital is a pioneering operator in the Portuguese market, with 500 million Euros under management and a total potential capital of 700 million euros for its managed funds . Caixa Capital’s Venture Capital team partners with international funds to support global expansion of Portugal related startups with team members specialized in ICT, digital, health tech, engineering and cleantech.

Notion Capital
Notion Capital invests in exceptional entrepreneurs in the enterprise cloud and SaaS markets who have what it takes to transform large, global markets. The Notion team has unmatched expertise having founded, built and exited two highly successful SaaS businesses — Star and MessageLabs. Our portfolio includes Brightpearl, Dealflo, GoCardless, MoveGuides, NewVoiceMedia, The Currency Cloud, Tradeshift, Triptease and Workable.

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