Reader Polls: Will TransPerfect Stay on Top and Why US and UK LSPs Dominate

TransPerfect scooped top spot on the 2017 Slator LSPI, having posted 12% in organic revenue growth to generate a grand total of USD 614.8m in annual revenue. Impressive given that this 12% equates to some USD 65.8m growth in absolute terms – more than double the USD 30m revenue required to make the Slator LSPI.

TransPerfect’s 2017 performance saw it leapfrog Lionbridge, the 2016 leader, to top spot. TransPerfect’s performance is all the more remarkable given what the company had to contend with in 2017 in its epic struggle for control that only recently concluded with the sale to co-founder (and now sole) CEO Phil Shawe.

To grow the top line aggressively, Lionbridge will almost certainly have to pursue acquisitions but the company has been quiet since the appointment of CEO John Fennelly, who gave Slator a cautious statement on M&A in an early 2018 interview. Meanwhile, a number of LSPs engage in aggressive buy-and-build strategies, and TransPerfect is expected to return to the acquisition trail as it is released from M&A restrictions.

We asked for our readers’ opinion on whether TransPerfect will be able to defend the number 1 spot on the Slator LSPI for 2018. In a display of confidence in the current leader, an overwhelming 62% of respondents backed TransPerfect to remain on top vs 38% who thought they would be usurped.

Anglo-American Companies Dominate Slator LSPI

TransPerfect and Lionbridge are joined in the Slator LSPI top 10 by fellow US-based LSPs LanguageLine Solutions, SDI Media and Welocalize, with the UK-headquartered SDL and RWS occupying spots 4 and 5 respectively. With these US and UK-based LSPs accounting for 70% of the top 10 companies on the Slator LSPI, and much more besides, we asked readers why these countries are dominating the Slator LSPI?

Just over a quarter of respondents thought that it was because the US and the UK have the strongest domestic client base, a fifth said it was because these countries are large diverse economies, with other readers pinpointing easy access to capital (15%) and strong tech culture (9%) as key reasons. 24% thought it was a mix of all of these factors with another 7% saying other reasons were behind this domination.

Will Brexit Bring Tides Of Change For English Language Use?

With less than a year to go until the UK bows out of the European Union, speculation has been rife about the future of the English language within the EU. It seems that many of our readers are unconvinced by the European Commission’s insistence that “translation and interpretation services in the English language will…remain unaffected.”

Less than 50% of respondents said that day-to-day use of English in EU institutions would remain unchanged once the UK leaves the EU, with 28% believing that Brexit will indeed have an impact. Nearly a quarter thought it was too early to tell one way or another.

Upswing In Buyer Insourcing In Certain Pockets

With reports of major localization buyers such as the Parkland Health and Hospital System (healthcare) and Electronic Arts (gaming) insourcing a significant portion of their language needs, we polled readers on the possible observational trend of large buyers bringing more of the localization supply chain in-house to find out if there there is something to it.

The opinions were mixed, with a third of respondents rejecting the idea that there is an increased trend in insourcing. Nearly half (47%) felt that there was a move towards buyers bringing more localization activities in-house, while about a fifth of respondents said that any increased preference towards in-house localization is industry-dependent.

Given that our readers span the full breadth of the language industry, the very fact that results are mixed suggest that there could indeed be a trend towards more major buyers in certain industries wanting to staff localization needs in-house. One to watch…