Lilt raises $25 million for AI enterprise translation tools

Lilt, which develops AI-powered business translation software, today announced it raised $25 million. The company says the cash infusion will enable future product development, research into natural language processing, and the acceleration of its go-to-market strategy.

Lilt’s solutions target development and deployment challenges around enterprise marketing, support, ecommerce, and localization efforts. According to an IDG report commissioned by Smartling, companies have international footprints in seven different markets and have to translate their content into seven different languages on average. Over half say that they find the content localization process to be too manual and cumbersome, resulting in a slower time to market.

Lilt tackles this with human translators and a tool — CAT — that helps these translators work more efficiently using hotkeys, style guides, and a proprietary neural machine translation engine. CAT can be tailored to a company’s content, translation history, and other linguistic assets, and configured to automatically add in previously translated segments when it finds matches within documents. The tools’ termbase and lexicon features help translators use the right terminology in the right context, chiefly by showing them a range of possible translations of a certain word. And the aforementioned engine taps AI and machine learning to analyze translation data and make predictive suggestions.

Speaking of, that engine — which supports over 40 languages — is continually trained on new data and languages, and it gives translators the final say with respect to its recommendations — they can accept, amend, or reject them individually. As translators interact with the suggestions, the engine learns and updates future predictions, adapting in real-time to achieve gains from one sentence to the next. These improvements also apply to future translations across an organization.

CAT and the engine plug into a translation management system that enables customers to assign translators and reviewers, track progress, and view key metrics. It helps to verify that the right documents are in place and ensure translations and termbases are up to date. At the same time, it automatically extracts content to filter and prepare while notifying translators about assignments and due dates at each step.

Lilt customers sign an annual contract that incorporates an agreed-upon pricing model. Companies connect content platforms like Slack, WordPress, GitHub, WordPress, Salesforce, Zendesk, and Adobe Marketing Cloud to Lilt’s platform via connectors and an API, which ingest the content for translation and then export it back to the content platforms for publishing.

Lilt competes with companies like Unbabel, which recently nabbed $60 million to expand its AI-assisted translation product to new segments. (Grand View Research anticipates the machine translation market will be worth $983.3 million by 2022.) Lilt’s client base includes brands like Intel, WalkMe, Sprinklr, DigitalOcean, and Canva.

Intel Capital led the this latest round in Lilt (a series B) with participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital, Redpoint Ventures, In-Q-Tel (the strategic investor for the U.S. intelligence and defense communities), and XSeed Capital. The round brings the company’s total raised to $37.5 million, and it will see Intel Capital VP Mark Rostick join the board of directors.

Lilt, which was cofounded by John DeNero and Spence Green in 2015, is based in San Francisco and Berlin and has offices in Indianapolis and Dublin, Ireland.

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