Amazon Acquires MT Vendor Safaba, Creates Machine Translation R&D Group

E-commerce giant Amazon now has its own Machine Translation R&D Group, after acquiring Pennsylvania-based Safaba Translation Solutions for an undisclosed amount. Safaba, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is an enterprise machine translation provider for clients like PayPal and Dell.

Safaba was co-founded in 2009 by Drs Alon Lavie and Robert Olszewski, both from Carnegie Mellon University. Lavie is a Research Professor at the university’s Language Technologies Institute and Olszewski is a PhD in Computer Science specializing in machine learning, pattern recognition, and classification. Throughout its six-year run, Safaba has secured three rounds of funding, all of which were for undisclosed amounts. The most recent round on December 12, 2014 was a convertible-note fund led by Innovation Works.

Having been absorbed into the Amazon Group, Safaba no longer retains its brand name, as indicated by the new position of its co-Founder and CTO Alon Lavie, Machine Translation Group Manager for Amazon.

It remains to be seen exactly how the newly formed Amazon Machine Translation R&D Group will complement Amazon’s widely used digital solutions, such as its cloud offering Amazon Web Services, or if it will play a focal role in localizing other services like Amazon Prime for non-English speaking regions.

Safaba is Amazon’s seventh acquisition in 2015, which is shaping up to be a positive year for the online retailer as it announced the year’s second quarter sales to be up by 20% to USD 23.18bn.

Featured image: Ken Wolter /