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Happy New Year 2015! A Letter From Vasco

The following is a letter from Vasco Pedro, CEO of Unbabel. It was written to the team but applies to everyone involved with Unbabel, from customers to investors to friends.

Dear All,

With only a few hours left in 2014, I wanted to take this moment to reflect on Unbabel’s first full year and what next year will bring.

Unbabel was started with the vision of bringing seamless communication in any language, of disrupting an old industry by introducing a revolution in the way technology and humans collaborate in translation.

If 2013 was the year of inception, 2014 was the year of discovery. Discovery of new worlds, new heights, new obstacles, new team members, new customers, new investors.

  • We started 2014 by spending 3 intense months in YC and learning just how hard it is to grow 40% per week, even if you start from zero.
  • We raised an investment round from some of the top investors in the world, procuring the resources needed to begin building our vision and transform the translation industry.
  • We translated more than 12 million words.
  • We grew from 400 editors to more than 15,000.
  • We translated in more than 40 language pairs.
  • We grew the team from 5 to 16 people.
  • We grew from 0 customers to more than 200, small and big, startups like Cambly and international corporations like Google, and everyone else in between.
  • We started with $0 in revenue and ended the year with $150,000 in revenue.
  • We built beta versions of some very impressive technology, some of it in production, some close to it.
  • We took the initial steps on the machine intelligence that will fundamentally change the way translation gets done.
  • We found out that it is always harder than you initially think.
  • We learned about what works, what doesn’t work, what is missing, and what we need to do to improve.
  • We got some awards, several grants, and some good press (as well as some less good, but still useful).
  • We surfed some gnarly waves, took some nasty falls, and got back up.

More importantly, we made it through the year substantially closer to a vision of global language empowerment. We realized that though we need to sprint sometimes, this will be a marathon.

2015 will be another amazing year for Unbabel. 2015 will be a year of growth, of taking Unbabel to new heights. There will be some changes that have to happen: we have to get better, faster, and bigger; we have to stay focused on our goals and make sure we deliver on our promise to our customers, editors and investors. It will be hard but it will be well worth it, and I believe we have the team that will take us there.

I want to thank you all for everything you have given Unbabel and tell you that I am proud of each and everyone of you. I believe in us, I believe that we can conquer the world. Judging from all that what we accomplished in 2014, 2015 will be BIG. Thank you for being along for the ride. Strap in, we are exiting calm waters and we have some exciting rapids ahead.

As Paul Arden says, “It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be”.

How good do we want to be?

Happy new year to all!

Vasco Calais Pedro
CEO, Unbabel

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