The Internet is becoming less Anglo-centric. English-language content on the web is 50% to 60% of the whole (vs. probably more than 90% a decade ago). And more Internet companies are catering to their foreign customers/workers via non-English websites. Ready to assist them is Bellevue-based Glides. Via “UniSite,” its proprietary software, and an army of outsourced translators, Glides can take an English-language website and create live foreign-language versions of all its pages (even in Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew and Arabic).
Glides’ CEO and President? A software-marketing veteran who speaks five languages and has one of the coolest names in local high-tech: Katarina Bonde. Among other things, Bonde was the head of marketing for the U.S. subsidiary of Cap Gemini Sogeti, Europe’s largest IT consulting firm (more than 35,000 employees). She’s also been a marketing exec at Dun & Bradstreet, Captura Software (Seattle-area firm that’s filed to go public), and Digital Equipment. Below, we asked Bonde how her company plans to glide into 2001?–LS
Seattle24x7: Katarina, how does the Glides platform work?
Bonde: Our client’s website basically sits on top of an architecture that allows them to bring in any language. They can say, OK, I want all this information also in French. To do that, typically, you’d have your information translated into another language, and then once it comes back, figure out how to implement it. Our software figures this out for you. It takes the text, sends it to human translators and then automatically routes it back. The database puts it in the right place on the website.
Seattle24x7: How does the website know which language I, the visitor, would like to use?
Bonde: Your English-language site and all the other foreign-language versions of it co-exist. All of them are live. Each page on the site can have a toolbar, a dropdown box, or something that visitors use to switch to a different language.
Seattle24x7: Can your software detect my preference?
Bonde: Yes. If you’re using a French browser, it’s first going to show you the homepage in French. If you’re using Microsoft IE German version, it’s going to show you German first, assuming the Website exists in German.
Seattle24x7: So your translators must always be just a mouse-click away?
Bonde: Yes, basically. When a client posts changes to a website, our software grabs the new content and asks: “Do you want to also update your, let’s say, French content?” If yes, the changes are routed to human translators and then automatically placed in the foreign-language version.
Seattle24x7: Any patents?
Bonde: We have some proprietary technology.
Seattle24x7: How many languages can you translate into?
Bonde: Our UniSite platform can use any language, be it Japanese, Hebrew or Arabic. We have contracted companies that as a group can translate up to 25 different languages.
Seattle24x7: How are you selling your platform?
Bonde: We just started to make Unisite commercially available. PSINet Latin America, for instance, is using to it deploy their intranet (internal corporate network) in three languages. Encompass Globalization, based in Belleveue, is using our software to interact with customers in different countries. Our first handful of customers, not surprisingly, have global businesses and are somewhat familiar with the IT industry. For example, GlobalClick provides e-mail and marketing services for companies expanding into foreign countries. JubileeTech is a translation company.
We’re also seeing interest from companies that have a presence in another country, but they thought that putting their site in a foreign language would be expensive and/or cumbersome.
Next quarter, we’ll launch our ASP version [software will reside on Glides’ servers, not the client’s]. Our software is replacing a client’s developer server (some call it a staging server) and making it into a collaborative platform. So you can have a marketing manager in France, a Webmaster here in Seattle, a copywriter in Boston, and they can all be collaborating on new copy, with one of them, of course, controlling the publishing command.
Seattle24x7: Who are your competitors, and which market segment are you targeting?
Bonde: Companies such as Idiom and GlobalSite cater to Fortune 500 Companies. They offer customized solutions, starting at $250,000, that take more than a year usually to deploy.
By contrast, we’re focusing on the mid-size company that may be exporting goods to Mexico and would also like to have its product info in Spanish. They’re not going to pay $1 million for that. We can serve the mid-market with a solution that is more packaged, more ready-to-go and at a lower price.
Seattle24x7: How about mid-market competitors?
Bonde: We haven’t found anybody else in this space. I’ve been speaking to industry analysts lately, and they tell me the same thing. They think we’re the only ones focused on this market.
Seattle24x7: How do you set your price?
Bonde: The larger the site, page-wise, the higher the cost. There are levels–up to 100 pages, up to 300, up to 600. The starting point is around $500/month. For larger sites, it can be a couple thousand dollars a month.
Seattle24x7: Does Microsoft have a multilingual site?
Bonde: They have lots of sites that are local. That approach obviously takes a lot of maintenance, and a lot of people working on it.
Our approach is to create a multilingual website. We’re not tying together different URLs; we’re creating one URL that has an underlying structure that allows you to have all these different languages.
Seattle24x7: You account not only for language but for cultural differences?
Bonde: Yes. Northern Europeans, for instance, are more fact-oriented than Americans. They look for stats and facts when they buy a product, and aren’t usually convinced by emotional appeals. In Sweden, product pricing must include the sales tax. We take these and many other factors into account.
Seattle24x7: How is your integration with E-commerce?
Bonde: We are compatible with most of the e-commerce programs on multiple platforms.
Seattle24x7: You raised $5M in venture capital last fall. Are you seeking more?
Bonde: Most likely we will. We need to expand fast enough to bypass competitors. On the other hand, too much financing dilutes equity.
Seattle24x7: Has the dot-com malaise in the U.S. also manifested itself in Europe and Latin America?
Bonde: In Europe, there wasn’t as much venture capital, so the downturn is not as hard. They had to fight a little harder to get funding, and they were a little more conservative. One similarity: European incubator companies seem to suffering as much as their U.S. counterparts.
Larry Sivitz is Managing Editor of Seattle24x7.
1715 114th Ave SE, Suite 115
Bellevue, WA 98004
Voice: (425) 450-0588
Fax: (425) 450-0675
Year founded: 1998
Executives: Miguel Rabay, Founder and Chairman, formerly a Microsoft business development manager for their Middle East region; Katarina Bonde, Chief Executive Officer, formerly head of marketing for the U.S. subsidiary of Cap Gemini Sogeti, Europe’s largest IT consulting firm and a marketing exec at Dun & Bradstreet and Captura Software.