On October 21, 2021, Poland-based language service provider (LSP) Argos Multilingual announced the acquisition of US-headquartered Venga Global. The deal closed on October 1, 2021.
Argos CEO Veronique Özkaya declined to disclose the purchase price for Venga, but told Slator that the deal is being financed with bank loans. Prior to the sale, Venga Global was a private company with a majority owner, she said. Venga CEO and Founder Kåre Lindahl is listed as the company’s “ultimate controlling party” in UK regulatory filings.
Earlier in 2021, Argos announced the acquisition of Chillistore, a USD 3m-revenue linguistic quality assurance (LQA) provider. After six months of 2021 trading, Argos forecast revenues of USD 35m for full-year 2021. The company generated USD 23.4m in 2020.
Now, in October, Özkaya said Argos is expecting growth of more than 55% amid a very strong 2021, while “Venga is also experiencing positive momentum.” Her projection for combined 2022 revenues is upwards of USD 60m. Annual revenues for Venga are likely in the region of USD 20–25m.
Lindahl — who joined SlatorPod in October 2020 to discuss his entrepreneurial journey — will stay on board with Argos post-acquisition, as will the company’s executive team, Özkaya said. Argos is currently devising a plan to integrate Venga into the Argos brand and the full integration is expected to take around nine months.
Complementary Sectors and Services
The two companies have very little client overlap and, according to Özkaya, “where we do have overlapping customers, we are providing different services, so it works out very well.”
Argos is focused on life sciences and manufacturing, while Venga’s key customers are based in the high-tech sector. Technology / IT has also been a growth area for Argos in the past couple of years. “We see the addition of Venga’s expertise as a catalyst for further growth and expansion [in the sector],” Özkaya said.
In addition to the sector-level fit, Venga and Argos also offer complementary translation-adjacent services. In 2020, Argos began providing copywriting, SEO, and NLP services, which “fueled much of our growth in 2021,” the CEO said.
By comparison, Venga has developed capabilities in data-for-AI services, such as data collection and annotation, over the past five years and also offers a range of multimedia services. Özkaya said she considers the data-for-AI market to be, “a very important area of growth for Argos over the next five years and we plan to continue to invest and grow this market.”
Clients with at least USD 1m in annual revenues make up 70% of combined company revenues and, on a geographic basis, 70% of combined revenues are generated in the US, with the remainder coming from Europe-based clients.
As regards translation technology, Özkaya said Argos and Venga currently work with a number of third-party TMS and MT solutions as and when requested by clients. They also utilize a variety of proprietary tools to manage the translation process and technologies are being reviewed as part of the integration plan.
When Mid-size LSPs Join Forces
Asked how discussions started, Özkaya said the two companies “knew each other personally and always felt we could be stronger together.”
Özkaya was originally introduced to Lindahl by Argos’ Chairman and Founder, Kimon Fountoukidis, at SlatorCon San Francisco. She added, “Our companies are both mid-size, have a similar set of values and an entrepreneurial spirit.”
Uniting two mid-size LSPs comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Özkaya identified customer retention, talent retention and acquisition, and embracing change as key priorities for the next two years.
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The newly-combined organization now employs around 300 people on three continents, across locations in the US, Argentina, Ireland, the UK, Czech Republic, Poland, and Japan.
“We are putting a major focus on HR, as we just hired a new Global HR Director,” the CEO said, adding, “We believe you don’t have to be the biggest company to be the best company to work for, and that’s our goal. We want to get the word out that we are growing and hiring!”
With the company set to more than double 2020 revenue figures (through organic growth and M&A) in 2021, Argos is set to assume the title of LSPI Leader, and become one of the world’s top 25 LSPs. Özkaya pointed out a few upsides to Argos’ rapid growth.
One: “Now that we will have almost USD 60m in combined revenues, our clients know that we will be able to deliver on even larger volumes.” Two: “We are large enough to fund major new business units, but small enough to be entrepreneurial and nimble in our efforts to get these up and running quickly.”