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Telus is acquiring data prep specialist Lionbridge AI for $935m

by Chuck Martin
Article ImageThe company provides human-labeled data for hundreds of use cases worldwide

Digital customer experience company Telus International has agreed to acquire Lionbridge AI, a division of machine translation and language data specialist Lionbridge, for $935 million.

Lionbridge AI collects and annotates text, image, video, and audio data in hundreds of languages for major companies globally, including Expedia, NTT, and Traveloka.

Headquartered in Massachusetts, it relies on crowdsourcing for mass translation projects and basic annotation tasks to make data usable by AI systems.

“The acquisition will add key capabilities and diversity to Telus International’s suite of next-generation digital solutions consistent with the ongoing execution of its growth agenda,” said Darren Entwistle, president and CEO of Telus. “We look forward to welcoming Lionbridge AI’s skilled team members as we continue to elevate our world-leading customer experience and innovative technologies for the valued brands we partner with around the world.”

The new economy services market

Despite the pandemic, Lionbridge AI’s business has been growing, fueled by market demand for data annotation services to support AI and machine learning investments.

For the nine-month period ending September 30, company revenue reached $230 million, an increase from $190 million in the same period in 2019.

“We are thrilled to be joining the Telus International team as we share a like-minded commitment to innovating for our clients and a focus on our people whom we consider to be unique experts in our industry and a sustainable source of competitive advantage,” said Ed Jay, president of Lionbridge AI.

“We are looking forward to working with Telus to continue delivering the AI training data and platform for our clients, and to build upon the scale and momentum we have achieved through our crowd of contributors spanning diverse languages, cultures, and geographies.”

The deal is expected to close at the end of December, pending regulatory approval.

“With the addition of Lionbridge AI, Telus International will further progress its penetration of the fast-growing new economy services market that will enable our team to support important AI applications as demand for high-quality, multilingual data annotation continues to increase,” Entwistle said.

Telus International remains on track for an IPO, targeted for the first quarter of 2021.

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