11 Jan 2023

Our investment in DeepL: Using neural networks to expand human possibilities, overcome language barriers and bring cultures closer together.

The way in which we communicate has been profoundly altered by technology over the last 50 years. The speed at which we are able to connect and distribute ideas is unprecedented. The reach we have as individuals and organisations has never been broader. And yet, our ability to communicate on a global scale is hindered by the many peculiarities of language: from syntax and morphology to semantics. Indeed, despite the many  leaps in innovation, communication’s greatest enabler paradoxically remains its greatest inhibitor - language itself. 

The limits of my language mean the limits of my world / Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1922

For centuries, mathematicians, computer scientists and philosophers alike have grappled with the ways in which language can be used to systematically convey abstract reasoning and truth. Can formal logic be applied to reduce all arguments to a set of component parts or is some nuance always to be lost with the use of a given word and its context in a particular language? How important is this loss of fidelity? And if language is foundational to meaning and collaboration as individuals and organisations, what tools could help us fully overcome friction in understanding each other across borders and cultures? How would our global centres of economic and political gravity shift if all languages and dialects were immediately comprehensible across all mediums? What would this mean for growth and trade?  What would the world look like if individuals and organisations could fully convey and translate all implicit and explicit meaning in real time? 

These are some of the core questions Jaroslaw “Jarek” Kutylowski, and his extraordinary team, have been working to resolve since he founded DeepL in Cologne in 2017. At the time, there were major developments happening in the field of neural networks. Jarek and the team began experimenting with these, and machine translation, with the goal of creating the most nuanced and contextual AI translations in the world. They succeeded. DeepL Translator achieves the highest translation quality globally with products available for individuals, professionals and organisations.  

DeepL founder & CEO Jaroslaw “Jarek” Kutylowski

From our initial conversation, Jarek’s passion about fundamentally improving the way we communicate globally shone through. It is this vision and technical ambition that has allowed DeepL to assemble a team of world leading researchers and engineers. A developer at heart, Jarek began coding at 10 years old, working on personal projects he found useful and applicable in everyday life. He went on to earn a PhD in computer science with an emphasis on mathematics. His penchant for languages and new technologies led him to the world of AI translation in large part also due to his multilingual background and sensitivity, having been born in Poland and raised in Germany.

An intrinsic part of Atomico’s DNA is using technology to drive human collaboration and communication. We are thrilled to partner with Jarek and DeepL, alongside investors we know well and admire, to help build the next chapter for this visionary team.