Bryce Benjamin is the CEO of Language Weaver (www.languageweaver.com), a Marina Del Rey-based firm that develops automated language translation software. Language Weaver's translatio software uses a technique called statistical language translation, and supports a wide range of two way language pairs. The firm is funded by Palisades Ventures, the Tech Coast Angels, and The Athenaeum Fund. socalTECH's Ben Kuo caught up with Bryce at the recent Montgomery Technology Conference in Santa Monica.
What's the latest on Language Weaver, and where is the company now?
Bryce Benjamin: You've been following us for quite a while, and you know that we've been cutting our teeth on the government market, and we have a pretty strong presence in the U.S. government and other governments around the world now. The big news late last year was some commercial success. The initial success has been in a couple areas. One application is where a large companies is trying to translate their content for a foreign market. Most of that translation today you will typically have a human translators and then a post editing process. What's starting to happen now--and translators should not be in the least bit worried that they're going to be put out of work by translation software--in some cases we're able to do a first draft translation in place of a human having to do that translation, The reason I say that translators shouldn't be worried about it is the reality is there is way more stuff that people want to have translated than translators, and this is just a way for people to translate more information and to get better leverage out of the real skills the human translator brings.
So in the commercial world, there's also a shortage of translators?
Bryce Benjamin: There's a shortage of translators, they have a lot of content they want to be able to translate, they want to be able to translate more of it faster, and this is a technique to be able to do that. Another new applications that is also emerging is web-facing knowledge base information. If you're a large multinational company--perhaps a Cisco, or a Oracle, or a Microsoft--and you want your online customer support information available online, you find that most of that is not available in multiple languages--because there's so much of it. There's starting to be some pickup among large companies to use automated translation to convey that information--without any post-editing--to consumers. And, it turns out that when you do that, your customer satisfaction scores--even with imperfectly translated translations--are high.
Really? So the quality is good enough that people can use it?
Bryce Benjamin: The metric is not if the grammatical structure is correct, the measure is do you get the information conveyed. Generally speaking, people can get 80% or more of what they're looking for from the automated translation.
How many people are at the company now?Bryce Benjamin: We've gone through the 40 mark, I think we're near the 45 mark and growing strongly.
Can you talk a little bit about where you are with your funding, I believe you had picked up a round a few years ago?
Bryce Benjamin: A couple of years ago. We're here at the Montgomery Conference to see what the appetite and interest is in what we're doing, with an eye towards our next tranche of growth financing, in whatever form that might take.