Linguist Julie Vonwiller, PhD founded Appen in 1996. Motivated by her passion for language and technology, she saw an opportunity to develop linguistic technologies to help launch products in new markets around the world. After receiving her PhD in linguistics, Julie worked for a number of years in academia; in starting Appen, she envisioned a way for linguists who typically work only in academia after receiving their degrees, to have the opportunity to build their careers and follow their passions in a global, technology-driven space.
Julie founded Appen with her engineer husband, Chris Vonwiller. The name Appen is derived from the Swiss canton Appenzell, from which some of Chris’s ancestors came to Australia in the nineteenth century. Informally Julie and Chris called their first employees Appenzellers.
In 2010, Appen merged with the Butler Hill Group, which was based in Ridgefield, Connecticut and Seattle, Washington and was founded by Lisa Braden-Harder in 1993. After the merger, Appen became Appen Butler Hill, and we expanded our business scope to include language resources, search, and text. Since then, our client base has grown to include global technology leaders, including Microsoft, SAP, Raytheon and Oracle. Additionally, we work with leading government agencies in the United States and United Kingdom.
As the social web became an increasingly bigger part of people’s lives, we looked to grow our services and capacity in global crowd-sourcing and social media technology to empower people to connect and share across the web. In late 2012, we acquired Social Instinct, a firm based in San Rafael, California, which develops tools and platforms for employee engagement, online moderation, and curation.
We now have operations in Australia, the United States, Europe, and Asia, and a team of 150. The large volume of linguistic work happening at Appen around the world also means that we provide flexible part-time, contract positions for around 50,000 people from the "global crowd” through the use of a number of platforms including our proprietary technology, Appen Online. We recently introduced two new tools: Kontribune, a digital platform that assists in employee and community engagement, and Social Instinct, a social media moderation and management platform.
Our services today are instrumental to leading technology companies as they enter new global markets. In the field of search, our teams directly affect the quality of results from some of the world’s leading search engines. Data generated from our language technology power the algorithms for the leading speech-recognition technologies in mobile phones, computer games, and in-car GPS systems. In the realm of text, we are at the forefront of research to extract value from unstructured text data. In social media, our technology platform enables companies to engage communities and curate relevant, meaningful, and safe social media experiences.
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