US-based language service provider (LSP) Welocalize on Thursday named Paul Carr as its new Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Carr takes over for Welocalize founder Smith Yewell, who has served as the company’s CEO since 1997.
Carr joins Welocalize from Third Bridge, an investment research firm, where he served as President for the last five years, and before that was president of Axiom Law.
“Recent major developments in language-based, generative AI are clear indicators that the language services and technology industry are in the midst of rapid transformation,” Carr told Slator, “and I am thrilled to join Welocalize at such an exciting time in the industry.”
Welocalize founder Yewell will serve as a company advisor and remain on the board. He told Slator that Carr “stood out as the best match for our company culture” in a recruitment process led by Yewell and Welocalize investor Norwest Equity Partners.
From Pathfinder to ChatGPT
Yewell, who co-founded the company with his wife Julia, told Slator in a podcast in May 2022 that Welocalize’s first contract was for the translation of a single word for a global product launch. “The first customer wanted to translate the word Pathfinder and we did and our path from then on went into this direction of localization and now that has morphed, so it all began with one word,” he said.
The times have certainly changed, and Welocalize has navigated through periods of transition in the industry to become one of the largest LSPs in the world with 3,100 employees. Carr will be tasked with steering the company through the next phase of major changes likely to be brought on by the emergence of generative AI and large language models (LLMs), while also capitalizing on opportunities for growth.
“[LLMs] are the new arms race, and given training and annotation is required to improve large language models, there is a tremendous opportunity for the language services industry”-Smith Yewell
Todd Solow, a partner at Norwest Equity Partners, which acquired Welocalize in 2015, said that Carr “is a proven leader who recognizes the potential of the next generation of language technology. We are confident his expertise will identify new areas of growth for Welocalize.”
Yewell believes LLMs and services like ChatGPT represent an important opportunity for Welocalize. He told Slator that the company is seeing the fastest growth in its AI Services business, and that there is a large need for continuous training of LLMs, which presents a “very exciting” opportunity for Welocalize and the industry broadly.
“[LLMs] are the new arms race, and given training and annotation is required to improve large language models, there is a tremendous opportunity for the language services industry,” Yewell said.
Asked about his plans beyond the language industry and Welocalize, Yewell said that “Golf pro sounds good, but I think it is too late for that in my life! For me and my co-founder and wife, Julia, it is about quality of life at this stage. We are busy with family, traveling with friends, philanthropy, and board work with earlier stage companies who have been inspired by the Welocalize story. We want to say thank you to our customers, employees, investors, industry colleagues and so many friends across the industry for helping us to write our story thus far, and there are new and interesting chapters still to come!”