Deluxe Ramps Up New ‘Localization’ Division With Sfera Acquisition, Taps Google Vet Derek McKellar as President

Deluxe Entertainment Services Group has acquired Sfera (Sfera Studios and Sfera Labs), a global cloud-based localization platform and distributed services firm. In addition, Deluxe has named former Google Head of Global Language Services Derek McKellar President of Deluxe Localization. Deluxe Localization is a newly-formed division of the company that provides customers a worldwide service offering in over 50 languages for Theatrical, Home Entertainment, broadcast television and OTT.

Deluxe Acquires Sfera
According to Deluxe, adding Sfera’s technology to Deluxe’s worldwide reach, relationships, and industry knowledge positions Deluxe Localization as a leader in media services capable of helping providers meet the unprecedented worldwide demand for entertainment content in a market where localization capacity is limited and technology is largely unproven.

Deluxe_Logo_RGBThe sheer volume of entertainment content is increasing worldwide like never before. According to FX Networks Research, the number of original scripted series in the US alone has nearly doubled since 2009 with new digital providers setting the standard for international expansion. This explosive growth has created significant demand for fast, high-quality localization services. Deluxe is responding to clients’ needs by investing in world class technology; initially integrating Sfera cloud technology into Deluxe Localization to provide the best localization platform in the industry, with plans to expand the platform to serve as a core element of the company’s overall development of new automated, technology-based processes and services.

The combination of Deluxe and Sfera creates one of the largest capacities in the world, with thousands of translators covering 50+ languages across 75 countries. Activating that force on the Sfera platform creates the massive scalability and security required to meet the content localization needs of the global marketplace.

Deluxe CEO John Wallace says, “We created Deluxe Localization together with Sfera to make sure our clients have the kind of capacity, capability, and state-of-the-art technology that just wasn’t present in the industry, and is absolutely required to reach worldwide audiences. The Sfera cloud platform lets us harness our global workforce and the data generated across our businesses to build more efficient operations capable of serving the growing appetite for content around the world.”

Initially, Sfera’s platform and tools will power Deluxe Localization to enable asset management, workflow and translation management, automated quality control (QC), and real-time analytics for services including:

  • Subtitling in 50+ languages — English template creation, translation origination, conforming, QC and version control
  • Accessibility services — Closed captioning, subtitles for the hearing impaired, and audio description
  • Material ingest — Material creation, watermarking, automated synchronization with audio
  • Audio — Conforming, language identification, and quality control
  • Metadata — Creation, conform, and quality control
  • Quality Control — Localized assets, film/TV content packaging, validation, and audio

Sfera Founder and CEO Morgan Fiumi says, “We’re incredibly excited to join Deluxe. Sfera is a team of amazing individuals with a vision for developing industry-first technology. Deluxe will enable us to accelerate our technology and bring efficiencies to our clients on a much broader scale. I am thrilled to become part of this iconic brand and join John [Wallace] and his team to launch and drive this innovation.”

Fiumi will take on the newly-created role of Chief Innovation Officer of Deluxe, overseeing product and development across all divisions of the Company, along with the continued development of the Sfera platform, reporting to Deluxe CEO John Wallace. The new global Deluxe Localization Division will be led by former Google Head of Global Language Services, Derek McKellar, also reporting to Wallace, who joins the company in December. The Sfera team in Los Angeles will continue to work in its Santa Monica facility, and its team in India will continue to work in its Bangalore facility.

Ron Horwitz, Deluxe SVP of Worldwide Localization, said, “Our clients have seen the demand for their content just explode worldwide. Combining Deluxe Localization with Sfera creates a solution for their need — it gives them more capacity, more security, and more skilled resources to localize content than they’ve ever had access to before. Having been part of building this organization from its early days, I’m excited to work with Derek, Morgan, and the Sfera team to drive it forward with this technology-based approach.”

Deluxe Localization Taps Former Google Language Services Head Derek McKellar as President
McKellar joins the Company to lead the new organization formed by Deluxe’s recent acquisition of cloud-based workflow platform, Sfera (Sfera Studios and Sfera Labs) and Deluxe’s thriving global localization business. The combination has given Deluxe massive global reach, proven, secure technology, and unprecedented capacity to meet the explosive worldwide demand for localized entertainment content. McKellar will join the Company in December, reporting to Deluxe CEO John Wallace.

At Google, McKellar led teams across the globe to deliver Google products that looked, felt, and sounded natural to users in their own countries; localizing half a billion words per year in 75+ languages. Prior to that, he helped launch an OTT startup that pioneered the early market for custom IP-based video solutions for broadcasters and content owners. He spent a decade at Accenture, leading business process outsourcing, technology operations and consulting for multi-national corporations including Microsoft, Unilever, British Telecom, Vodafone, and Xerox. Having lived and worked on four continents and in a dozen countries, he started his career in IT architecture strategy and planning at Telkom SA.

“Derek brings us a great mix of expertise in large-scale business operations, massively scalable technologies and data-driven decision making,” says Deluxe CEO John Wallace. “More importantly, on top of those skills he is strongly client-driven. He’s ideally aligned to drive our new Deluxe Localization with Sfera operation.”

McKellar says, “Deluxe is an enduring brand with a strong heritage and history of innovation. Together with Sfera’s team and technology it is ideally positioned to lead and deliver disruptive, far-reaching change to the localization industry. I look forward to bringing our clients’ content to the world and helping them manage the complexity and diversity of the global market.”

McKellar will be based in London initially, with plans to relocate to Los Angeles in 2017.

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