Portuguese startup Unbabel today announces it has closed its Series B funding round, raising $23 million to expand its operations.
Investors included Scale Venture Partners, Notion, Microsoft Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, and Samsung Next, along with Caixa Capital and Funders Club. The investment will be used for international expansion and product development.
“We started this company with the ambition to reach 70% of internet users who do not speak English, not even as a second language. However, demand from global brands for a solution that allows them to support their customers in their native languages has grown so rapidly that Unbabel now needs to take this growth step to be able to serve them, “said Vasco Pedro, CEO of Unbabel.
“Our mission is unique and has attracted some of the brightest minds and the best partners in machine-learning and SaaS (software as a service). With Unbabel, every company can have global reach from day one,” he added.
Y Combinator alumnus Unbabel was named one of Lisbon’s hottest startups in 2017 by Wired as the company “uses machine learning and 50,000 humans to translate text.”
Unbabel’s services currently translate across 28 different languages that are powered by AI and machine learning, along with human translators to refine the process for accuracy.
The platform is fully compatible with Zendesk, Autodesk, Salesforce, WordPress, and Mailchimp.
“We are pleased to support the growth of Unbabel and enable its translation platform, aided by an Artificial Intelligence system, to help even more companies around the world deliver incredible service,” said Alex Kayyal, Europe Head at Salesforce Ventures.
Microsoft Ventures, an active, strategic partner at key stages of a startup’s growth, typically investing between Series A and C, was also eager to join the Unbabel funding train.
Itxaso del Palacio Aguirre, Investment Partner at Microsoft Ventures, Europe said, “We are very excited to help Unbabel carry its translation that combines human and artificial intelligence to more companies around the world. By positioning themselves at the intersection between machine translation and professional services, Unbabel offers a unique solution to help companies reach more customers, more effectively, in a scalable way.”
Microsoft Ventures is not only the startup investment arm at Microsoft, but it also runs Microsoft accelerators across the globe, as well as hackathons.
By hosting hackathons, developer teams are able to identify certain problems that need fixing, and are a constant source of instant innovation.
For example, one such Microsoft Ventures hackathon that was reported on the Microsoft Developer Blog identified a unique problem the needed to be solved — “that one of the startups (CreativeWorx) required a standalone Excel-like spreadsheet component for the web.”
Felix Rieseberg, former Open Source Engineer at Microsoft and current Staff Software Engineer at Slack, wrote that since the hackathon identified a need for CreativeWorx, what resulted was that a new software component was developed which was later “listed on Facebook’s own ‘Complementary Tools’ page and became Felix Rieseberg’s most popular GitHub repository within two days.”
With an impressive list of investors, Unbabel looks to bring its combination of machine-learning and human-quality translation to even more companies and more countries.