Large agency buys smaller one
Thread poster: Jessica Noyes

Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 12, 2015

I just read that one of my favorite agencies to work with, with consistently high standards, was purchased by a large publicly-traded company that has a checkered reputation. I am interested in hearing what generally happens when the king of the jungle expands his territory. Should I adopt a "wait and see" attitude, or should I immediately start seeking new clients?

 

Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:57
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Concerning but yes let's wait and see Nov 12, 2015

Of course I know who you're talking about. Yes it's concerning but I think 'wait and see' is the right approach. The buyer would be shooting themselves in the foot to fix what wasn't broken about their newly-acquired company. Decent rates, PMs that care, being rewarded for quality, etc. make this business worth working in, but don't lose heart. If those core values are compromised, not only will the translators be leaving, so too will the clients. In the end, there will always be room for everyone in this market; the question is just whether it will be with Agency X or Agency Y.

We'll just have to wait and see what happens!


 

TranslateThis  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
I would start looking Nov 12, 2015

Jessica Noyes wrote:
Should I adopt a "wait and see" attitude, or should I immediately start seeking new clients?


Once you have found 1-2 solid clients, you will be in a better position to negotiate and it will make it easier to drop that company if necessary.


 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:57
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
No harm in seeking Nov 12, 2015

Jessica Noyes wrote:

I just read that one of my favorite agencies to work with, with consistently high standards, was purchased by a large publicly-traded company that has a checkered reputation. I am interested in hearing what generally happens when the king of the jungle expands his territory. Should I adopt a "wait and see" attitude, or should I immediately start seeking new clients?


Whatever is the outcome, I am always open/seeking for new clients. Won't harm you.


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:57
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I think the large one you are talking about is very poor in project management Nov 13, 2015

Jessica Noyes wrote:

I just read that one of my favorite agencies to work with, with consistently high standards, was purchased by a large publicly-traded company that has a checkered reputation. I am interested in hearing what generally happens when the king of the jungle expands his territory. Should I adopt a "wait and see" attitude, or should I immediately start seeking new clients?


They often (It is a rule other than an exception) have large jobs (say more than 10000 words)that they want you to turn around within the same day.

They often split a large document among many people, without anybody checking consistency.

They tend to try to deduct your payment amount from the PO with no justifiable reason.

They sometimes send machine generated translations for you to edit.

Their online project management system is very complicated, not intuitive at all. You have to upload your invoice to that system, otherwise you won't be paid.

It can take a month or two for them to reply to your concern about a problem that they have created, which can be resolved in a few minutes.

They use very poor project managers. One PM in their HK office asked me to quote for a 30000 word file. I sent to her my quote, and thereafter I never heard from her. However, after a week she asked me how the translation was going.



[Edited at 2015-11-13 00:26 GMT]


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:57
Member
English to French
It usually doesn't get better Nov 13, 2015

Jessica Noyes wrote:

I just read that one of my favorite agencies to work with, with consistently high standards, was purchased by a large publicly-traded company that has a checkered reputation. I am interested in hearing what generally happens when the king of the jungle expands his territory. Should I adopt a "wait and see" attitude, or should I immediately start seeking new clients?

Although it was not the king of the jungle, it happened to me a some years ago with a large, too perfect agency that swallowed a smaller US agency. I knew the large agency and didn't expect anything good for me would come out of it. I was right. Within days, I started receiving hello-everybody-sorry-for-the-mass-e-mail e-mails from that large word factory, with deadlines for yesterday, 2 GB of instructions and silly rates. And I never got any more work from that smaller agency. I was probably not charging their "standard" rate.

Seeking new customers would be a good idea.

Philippe


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:57
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Start looking at once Nov 13, 2015

There's nothing to stop you working for this agency while you're building up alternatives, after all. But don't expect that the new owners won't want you to sign THEIR T&C. They'll bring in THEIR quality procedures (those ones that are there solely to try to reduce the amount they have to pay you for your time i.e. through penalties and/or time-wasting). They'll bring in THEIR interface for file handling and invoicing/payment procedures.

It's naive to believe nothing will change. I suppose the owners of the smaller agency have gained a nice little nest-egg but I don't suppose anyone else will win except the big bosses and the other shareholders.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Be very afraid Nov 13, 2015

I don't know who you're referring to here, but...

One of my two remaining agency customers was swallowed up by a hungry large feline earlier this year.

I'm still getting some of the work I used to do, but only because the end-client has specifically requested this.

They have moved everyone out of the city centre to an open-plan office on a suburban industrial estate. They have driven out most of the old PMs and translators. One I know is too scared to take sick leave.

I'm not getting any new work because I haven't learnt how to use their online CAT tool and haven't provided the stupid amounts of info needed to join their various "teams". Never mind the fact I've worked for various companies they've acquired for over 20 years...

When the same predator took over our biggest customer over a decade ago, we went from £80,000 of work a year to £500 within two years.

And then they asked for a profit contribution and we parted ways. Until now.

I'm not optimistic.


 

Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:57
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
The bigger, the worse (usually) Nov 13, 2015

Size does matter in this respect, but contrary to what you might think based on conventional business models, economies of scale and all the rest. Instead of following a 'wait and see' approach, I'd thus start seeking right away for smaller, quality-driven outfits to replace the big, inflexible, purely profit-driven "tankers" with their loads of red tape.

[Edited at 2015-11-13 09:47 GMT]


 

Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:57
Member
French to English
+ ...
Know who you mean Nov 13, 2015

There are companies out there - including the one that has taken over the smaller agency you refer to - that take what I call a "factory-based approach" to translation and treat translators as easily replaceable drones working on conveyor-belt production lines, and also seek to expand their empire by swallowing up as many good, smaller agencies as they can so that they can squeeze others out of the market and increase their own market share. They then trumpet about their latest acquisition all over the corporate news websites. If companies like that take over the entire market, we will all be in serious trouble. So yes, I would start looking for other clients if I were you - I'm afraid it's not a good omen.

 

Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Nov 13, 2015

I appreciate your taking time to give sound advice and share the stories of your own experiences with these translation juggernauts.

 


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