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Transifex, groundbreaking translation software

By Yiannis Palaiologos

Dimitris Glezos, CEO of Transifex, which recently announced an injection of funds worth 2.5 million dollars from leading international investors, became a digital convert at an early age. As a student at the University of Patra he built the Computer Engineering and Informatics Department’s website while holding down a job as a programmer. He went on to start his doctoral thesis at the University of Manchester in the UK, whose subject was the application of fuzzy logic in artificial intelligence systems.

At the same time, he was also active in the open-source software community and especially in the Fedora Project, a community-supported, Linux-based operating system.

“At the time it had around 10 million users, 1,000 translators and around 300 programmers – all whom worked on a voluntary basis,” Glezos told Kathimerini. “The collaboration between the translators and the programmers was especially problematic as the former didn’t want to get mixed up in technical issues and the latter could not handle anything pertaining to language.”

This problematic relationship gave rise to Transifex, a pioneering piece of software that makes the process of collecting, translating and delivering digital content, web and mobile apps in multiple languages a lot easier and which has already met with great enthusiasm from the open-source software community.

In 2009, Glezos participated in Google’s Summer of Code program, where he developed the concept further. He went on to abandon his doctorate and start his own company, originally named Indifex, based in Patra.

“Intel and Nokia were among our first clients,” says the young computer engineer and businessman, who is just 32 years old. “There was a lot of demand for our product.”

Now, five years on, the company has moved its headquarters from the western port city to Athens and has opened a branch in Silicon Valley. Its clients are based in more than 30 countries and its services are used in 17,000 projects with around 170,000 users.

But what exactly does Transifex offer?

To find out, Kathimerini visited the company’s Athens headquarters in the suburb of Neo Iraklio, an open-plan space shared with Persado, another promising Greek start-up.

“They gave us privileged access to the space because they weren’t using it and they liked the idea of the climate that would be created between the two businesses. It has worked out really well,” said Glezos, speaking from Silicon Valley. This is but one of many examples of newly hatched Greek businesses working together – in stark contrast to the petty rivalries that seem to prevail in so many other sectors.

Antonis Garnelis, head of the product development, explains some of the marvelous properties of Transifex.

According to the company’s website, Transifex has evolved from a translating tool for the world of open-source software into a global platform for the localization of software products. What does this mean?

“That it makes the translation process a lot more efficient and significantly reduces the cost for the client,” explains Garnelis. “For example, we have introduced an algorithm, called translation memory, which stores all translations that have already been done. Therefore, when you need a new translation, which is mostly similar to an older one, the algorithm locates the similarities and allows the translator to use the old material rather than doing it all over again.”

The seed money of 2.5 million dollars that Transifex is to receive is the only financial support it has received in its brief history. So far, clients have found out about the company exclusively by word of mouth between programmers and the open-source software community. The main investor is New Enterprise Associates, a US-based venture capital firm with 13 billion dollars of investments around the world. The group also includes angel investors, among whom are Silicon valley veteran Thanos Triant and Georgios Papadopoulos, founder of Atypon publishing solutions. The money will go toward developing Transifex Live, a new service that will automatically translate website content using just one line of code.

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday Jul 16, 2014 (13:33)  
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