Which is the Biggest Translation Agency in 2023?

What's the biggest translation agency

TransPerfect occupies the top spot in the Slator 2023 Language Service Provider Index (LSPI) which was released in mid-February 2023, with nearly 350 participants ranked in order of revenue (in USD) and divided into four segments: Super Agency, Leader, Challenger, and Boutique.

The 300+ companies in the 2023 LSPI collectively generated revenues of USD 10.4bn. Although a number of language service providers (LSP) in the Leader, Challenger, and Boutique categories experienced revenue declines in 2022, none of the eight Super Agencies reported diminishing revenues in 2022. There were three new additions to the ranks of Super Agency this year and the segment totalled shared revenues of USD 4.7bn.

  • Super Agencies – full-service, standalone LSPs with revenues greater than USD 200m;
  • Leaders – LSPs with revenues greater than USD 25m and that do not fall into the Super Agency category;
  • Challengers – LSPs with revenues between USD 8m and USD 25m;
  • Boutiques – LSPs with revenues between USD 1m and USD 8m.

The World’s Biggest Language Service Provider

As the largest of the Super Agencies, with USD 1.16bn in 2022 revenues, TransPerfect ranked in first place (again), having held the title of world’s largest LSP by revenues since the first edition of the LSPI in 2018, and in all five editions since. 

At the helm of TransPerfect is Phil Shawe as Co-Founder, President, and CEO of the US-based translation, localization, and interpreting provider.

Retaining its title as the world’s largest LSP by revenue builds on TransPerfect’s major milestone achieved in 2021, when it became the first LSP to ever top USD 1 billion in annual revenues. 2022 saw the US-based Super Agency experience annual growth of 4.5% — or USD 51m in dollar terms.

Drivers of Growth

TransPerfect’s success can be attributed to an almost equal combination of acquisitive and organic growth. The company announced two acquisitions in the second half of 2022 — the most significant (size-wise) being the acquisition of France-based media localization provider, Hiventy, with approximate annual revenues of USD 42m. The Super Agency also acquired Sterling Technology, a provider of virtual data room (VDR) solutions based in the UK.

In terms of outperformers for the business, TransPerfect Legal Solutions (TLS) and Trial Interactive eClinical both had a record growth year in 2022. Meanwhile, both the travel sector and TransPerfect’s interpreting business line showed strong growth.

TransPerfect’s Senior Vice President in charge of technology, Matt Hauser, joined SlatorPod in June 2022 to discuss the creation of the technology division. The company’s technology products proved a significant asset for TransPerfect in 2022; GlobalLink NOW, TransPerfect’s machine translation (MT) solution, experienced a 100% increase in sales with demand primarily stemming from the life sciences, finance, legal, and travel sectors.

When asked about the current fanfare around Large Language Models (LLMs) and ChatGPT, Shawe told Slator he thinks the hype is justified and said TransPerfect views “this new generation of AI models as a powerful addition” to human-in-the-loop automation workflows.

Competition for Top Spot

The runner-up in the competition for the world’s largest LSP is UK-based RWS, which took second place in the 2023 LSPI for the second year running. 

RWS had previously leapfrogged Lionbridge into second spot in the 2022 LSPI after its acquisition of major UK rival, SDL, in 2020. The transformative acquisition saw RWS and TransPerfect enter a head-to-head battle for biggest translation agency the following year, with TransPerfect ultimately winning the race.

Meanwhile, Lionbridge retained its position among the top five largest LSPs in the 2022 LSPI and 2023 LSPI, with revenues of more than half a billion dollars. Having secured the title as second-largest LSP in the 2021 LSPI, the US-headquartered LSP sold its AI division (Lionbridge AI) to Canadian company TELUS in late 2020.

A consistently top-three ranked company, LanguageLine Solutions took third spot in the 2023 LSPI as well as the 2022 and 2021 editions. The US-based interpreting specialist generated revenues of USD 836m in 2022, growing more than 11% from 2021. The company also acquired UK-based LSP Capita Translation and Interpreting in 2022.

Not to be overlooked is video games services provider Keywords Studios. The Ireland-based game specialist grew more than 30% in 2022 and maintained fourth spot in the Slator 2023 LSPI with revenues of USD 724m.