We have a new unicorn in North Rhine-Westphalia / Germany. Habemus unicorn you could say. DeepL, the translation AI startup from Cologne has managed to crack the “magic“ valuation of 1 billion in the latest round of financing. If not DeepL, then who writes our columnist Markus Sekulla in his love letter to the Cologne-based company. And he had it translated by DeepL, of course.
Perhaps this text will not seem 100% perfect in terms of language and grammar. This will be because I wrote it in German, then sent it through the English translation of DeepL and this English text was then translated back into German by DeepL. Why? Because I can. Or much more, because DeepL can! So enjoy the result:
I once had an English teacher who gave us the following wisdom in our first lesson: “The most spoken language in the world is not English, but bad English. Let's do something about it.“ He was right.
A little later: the best translation on the Internet is not good, but satisfactory. The older ones will remember when Yahoo Babelfish and Google Translate were still the top dogs. Translating German texts into English went bumpy early on, but ok. Translating English texts into German made more work than it saved from 2012 to 2020. That has changed completely with DeepL. Everything seems possible and even the freemium version is directly accessible. Whether the business model will change at some point and you will have to pay for the beloved service remains open.
To be clear: I love DeepL. And I don't know anyone in my professional circle who thinks otherwise. Especially because you are not forced into a pay model after 1-2 uses.
So it's not surprising that DeepL has become a unicorn. In addition to the now almost flawless translation from English to German, a showcase company with everything that goes with it was created in the cathedral city. Ukrainian was quickly launched this year, corporate versions with internal lingo are available and accessibility is a top priority.
And there is still an incredible amount of potential in languages. Whenever I go on a trip abroad, I open the Duolingo app every day from booking to travel and try to pick up a little of the language of the destination country. In an emergency, you can always switch to English, but it would be nice to delay that step as long as possible. This rarely works. You stand in front of your French Airbnb host and don't get much out of it except for his school French “Bon Jour“.
The only thing DeepL can't do is help us in these awkwardly conducted offline conversations. The market is not sleeping here. Real time translations have also been around for a while. But these are still in the “we do more work” phase. I wouldn't be surprised if DeepL will soon offer the best solution with their AI here as well.
At the end of my little declaration of love a little anecdote. When I already used DeepL for 1 year, someone asked me if I ever worked with “Deepel” (or Deeple). Hmm, nope, I always use “Deep L“. It took a few weeks to realize it....