Podcast: WordFinder Access 500+ Dictionaries for Accurate Translations

Listen And Share This Software Spotlight Podcast

Watch And Share This Software Spotlight Podcast

WordFinder founder Ola Persson joins the Software Spotlight podcast to discuss the origin and growth trajectory of his dictionary software company. Launched in 1990 to enable instant in-text dictionary lookups, WordFinder now provides access to 500+ dictionaries in 28 languages for 25,000+ business users. Persson credits strong user focus for WordFinder's expansion from a Scandinavian tool into a global SaaS leader.

Podcast Summary: Software Spotlight Featuring WordFinder

WordFinder logo
WordFinder helps you instantly find the best words for Scrabble, Words With Friends, crosswords, and other word games/puzzles – designed by linguists and puzzle experts.

The Origins of WordFinder: Solving a Personal Productivity Problem

Back in 1989, Ola Persson was working for a software company selling administration software to schools in Belgium. Communicating via fax, he would struggle when encountering English words he didn't know. Rather than look them up, he awkwardly rephrased sentences to avoid the unfamiliar words.

Sitting on a balcony with friends one day, Persson explained his dictionary dilemma. Two programmer friends said it would be simple to build a software solution that allowed instant access to dictionary definitions alongside documents. Inspired, Persson and a partner soon left to found WordFinder Software in 1990.

Bootstrapping a Niche Software Product in the Early Days of Windows

Launching just as Windows 3.0 arrived in Sweden, WordFinder had to adapt quickly from its initial DOS version. The first Windows version followed in 1991. Early challenges included the limited hard drive space on most computers, requiring WordFinder to ship on 14 floppy disks.

Despite constraints, WordFinder delivered value by integrating dictionaries seamlessly into word processors and other Windows programs. Translators, corporations, schools, and embassies emerged as early adopters, using the tool to aid communication in foreign languages.

WordFinder has made significant progress since its modest origins operating on DOS with floppy disks in the early 90s. Presently, it caters to more than 25,000 enterprises and a staggering half a million users worldwide.

Pioneering Digital Licensing to Build a Global Dictionary Business

In the 1990s, most publishers struggled to market dictionary CD-ROMs effectively. Persson realized the opportunity to license rights and integrate quality dictionaries from different publishers into a single, convenient software solution. This pioneering digital licensing model fueled WordFinder's growth.

Gradually expanding its dictionary catalog and language coverage, WordFinder transitioned from disks and CD-ROMs to offer digital downloads in the early 2000s, followed by subscriptions around 2010. Today, the WordFinder platform provides access to over 500 dictionaries in 28 languages.

Delivering a Spotify-like experience for Dictionaries

With the goal of creating “the Spotify for dictionaries,” Persson negotiated expanded licensing rights from publishers. This enabled the launch of WordFinder Unlimited in 2017 – an all-you-can-eat subscription with access to the full 500+ dictionary catalog for one monthly price.

Users can download dictionaries for offline access and customize preferred dictionaries for each language. Apps for mobile and browser extensions further support productivity across devices. The dictionary service continues to expand, recently adding Turkish and Japanese to its supported languages.

An Indispensable Tool for Precise Communication

By instantly putting definitions at users' fingertips, WordFinder enables accurate communication in business, legal, technical, and academic contexts. Users include corporations, embassies, universities, freelance translators, language students, and more.

As artificial intelligence advances, Persson notes that WordFinder provides securely encrypted translation capabilities while keeping sensitive data off external servers. This allows organizations to harness AI productivity gains without compromising proprietary information.

After over 30 years of pioneering digital dictionaries, WordFinder remains focused on ever-advancing platform integration and global growth under Persson's visionary leadership. The quest to build the ultimate dictionary technology endures.

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