Thursday, November 04, 2010

Lionbridge's path to profit

A previous post about Lionbridge's Translation Workspace has just received the following comment from Arnie, which I quote here in full:
Even though I have not worked for Lionbridge for years, they still keep me updated on their exciting Path to Profit. I just received the next instalment and you couldn't have made it up. Last week I received a message (which, incidentally, clearly stated ‘DO NOT REPLY’) in which we are asked to reduce our rates because the climate makes it ever so awkward for Lionbridge to make ends meet. A few days later we are invited to join their Job Posting Pilot Program, which means that for a monthly fee you increase your chances to get work. Of course this program is only open to people who already pay a monthly fee for the use of their pointless Workspace… So they somehow believe it would be to our advantage to a) work with their tool and in their workspace, and pay for this, plus b) pay to be able to get work, and c) work against a reduced rate of our normal rate. Does this sound good? In the meantime, TAUS seems to have quite a few TMs from Lionbridge available, so I wonder if the information translators feed into this magic Workspace is also somehow put to work to line the Lionbridge pockets? I find the whole thing totally ridiculous and a blatant insult to our intelligence.
We also have received this message, which demanded from all Lionbridge's providers a 5% discount on all invoices for all work between November 1 and January 1. The message was then followed by some slight backpedalling (we could disregard the "DO NOT REPLY" label, which supposedly had been added by mistake), and by further messages from some regional offices (one of which indicated that the 5% discount was not mandatory, but that PMs would be instructed to assign jobs by preference to those providers who had acceded to Lionbridge's demands).

My question to Lionbridge's customers: do you realize that your translation provider is actively pursuing a strategy that seems designed to chase away Lionbridge's best translators?


  1. Meantime, a UK-based company in a different sector (Serco) landed itself in trouble by trying to persuade its key suppliers to offer a 2.5% "rebate". They ended up sending out a letter of apology. See

  2. You are right. THis srategy in a way seems to chase away many translators. It is indeed a sad story to seek cuts from freelance translatora.
    English<>Bengali translator

  3. Absolutely ridiculous. My best-paying freelance work by FAR is with small outsourcers. They pay good rates, are highly responsive and flexible and just generally pleasant to work with. The big providers are often NONE of those things (I could name a couple more names). It makes me laugh (ironically) when I see people writing gushing reports about these big providers on the ProZ Blue Board when I KNOW they are lying to suck up to them!

    Stick with the small-time outsourcers and you can avoid all this trouble.

  4. I worked 3 times for Liondbridge and kept getting at least a message per week. Today I asked them to remove me from their data-base of providers, as I considered their policy offensive.
    Paola Dentifrigi - Italy

  5. P.S. It's not a path to profit, it's the desperate attempts of a lumbering dinosaur to claw its profits back into the black by treating its suppliers like... well, you fill in the gap. It happens in every industry, I think it's a sign of advanced decay.

  6. Their share price does look interesting in the past few days.

  7. Identify all the research analysts that cover LIOX and inform them in a clear and dispassionate tone how this move will very likely cause the best translators to refuse to work with LIOX and result is lower quality for many services provided by LIOX thus resulting in customers leaving and a lower stock price. Remember that these are the guys who publicly quiz the executive management about how things are going every quarter and also write reports to inform interested investors what they think about the company and its future. Here is a start:
    • Vafi, Joeseph of Jeffries & Co
    • Baldry, Richard of Signal Hill Group LLC
    • Hynes, David of Canaccord Genuity
    • Liu, Kevin of B. Riley & Company, Inc.
    • They also have coverage by Friedman Billings, Matrix Research, First Albany and Piper Jaffrey so find the analysts and let them know why you think LIOX has a shaky future
    Identify the Investment Officers at their largest institutional investor firms and inform them why LIOX may be a bad investment and why their stock price is likely to fall, again in a dispassionate and clear way so that they understand that there is a real risk of the stock price collapsing and staying in the gutter.

    This link provides a list of all their largest Institutional Investment holders
    Find their addresses/emails and make sure they hear about this from you and all your best friends who disagree with this policy.

    Write them all an email explaining the role of the translator in the localization supply chain making sure they understand that quality comes from good translators who are likely to work best when they feel fairly compensated. You could also explain how alienating good translators will undermine LIOX quality in the long run. I suggest that an even and considered tone like the one employed by Kevin Lossner will be the most effective way to make your point. Angry people are tiresome and best ignored.

    Make sure that you and a 100 of your best friends send some form of this summary to anybody who is interested in investing in LIOX stock or currently owns a significant amount of LIOX stock.

    Make it clear that this is likely to cause the following:
    • Loss in service and product quality
    • Increasingly lower quality translators working for Lionbridge which will be reflected in their deliverables
    • Imminent and sustained drop in LIOX stock price (i.e. it will be very hard for the stock to rise again)
    • Continued losses as some large customers realize that they have so much ill will that it is going to affect their ability to deliver services and choose to find other suppliers who have better relations with the supply chain
    • Perception of LIOX as a sweatshop which will make many blue chip customers shy away and avoid LIOX as a supplier

    If you do this, I think you will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you have done everything you can to let the authorities know about this. If you are lucky this will even cause Rory and Didier to get a severe hand slapping from the investors and possibly even issue an apology to all the people who received the infamous letter. Even if there are no visible signs of remorse I suspect there will be some back room chats that will make the boys tread much more carefully in future.

    But my real advice to all of you is that you are probably best served by finding new people (SLVs too) to work with, who treat you with more respect and fairness and realize that in this industry quality is accomplished through human partnerships. Working with people who recognize and acknowledge your value always makes for a better life. Right?

    Good Luck.


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