Deal Watch: Translation company finds opportunity

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, there is no word or expression in the Japanese language for “nose wipe thumb panel.”

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BELIEVE IT OR NOT, there is no word or expression in the Japanese language for “nose wipe thumb panel.”

But Hood River action sports company DaKine still needed to market that feature of its snowboarding gloves to riders in Japan, so they put Portland translation company viaLanguage on the job.

“Sometimes we’re localizing not just for a region, but to a specific target audience,” says Chanin Ballance, CEO of the 10-year-old viaLanguage, “because there just aren’t words or expressions in other languages.”

Ballance’s company, which she originally co-founded in 2000 as a rapid editing firm, announced its first acquisition in January after it picked up long-time partner Planet Productions, a Portland e-learning company. Now called viaLearning, Planet used to develop web-based training programs for the likes of Intel, then bring them to viaLanguage for translation.

With one of viaLanguage’s three focus areas being education — the other two are health care and marketing — Ballance says bringing Planet Productions in-house will help better serve the growing number of companies around the globe who’ve shifted to web-based training.

The move was good for Planet Productions as well, which Ballance says was in need of a “critical partner.” ViaLanguage, which employs 40 in Portland and has more than 1,000 contracted translators worldwide, brought just a few of Planet’s core folks on board.

Now in the $5 million to $10 million range, viaLanguage counts among its corporate clients Nike, Microsoft and Cisco, for whom the company translates and localizes everything from marketing materials to product information.

Ballance says viaLanguage will be broadening its services this year with technology to help optimize website search results and meet translation demands for social media and interactive learning platforms. There may be another acquisition in the near future as well.

“We do intend on diversifying ourselves even more,” Ballance says, “so you might see another one from us here soon.”

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