Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

CSOFT Stories: Matt Arney on the Early Days, Warren Buffet, and Gangnam Style

There are many new and exciting things to look forward to in 2013 – having a new lease on life after we survived the Mayan ‘doomsday’ prophecies, Game of Thrones Season 3 returning to HBO, and more snake references than you can shake a stick at. Hearing it officially from T for Translation, make sure you add another to the list: CSOFT turns 10!

As we begin preparations to celebrate this incredible milestone, it seems prudent to also take some time to reflect. In this vein, T for Translation will be interviewing team members to get some insight on the past, present, and future of CSOFT. Dubbed “CSOFT Stories,” this campaign seeks to share some of the mysteries and tales of CSOFT’s early days, as well as hear from the next generation of leaders. See below for insights and thoughts from Matt Arney, CSOFT’s VP of Localization, as he kicks us off!

Image of book, titled "CSOFT Stories" sitting on a table

What was your first encounter with CSOFT like?

The first time I found out about CSOFT, I was in the airport, checking emails on an old Treo, and read an email from a guy in China asking if I might be interested in working for this localization company. I almost deleted it, but my wife said, “It might be spam, but if it isn’t, it sounds like a unique opportunity.” So I sent a reply and went off to Hawaii.

A couple days later, I heard back from this same gentleman, who I later learned was CSOFT’s Executive Vice President Carl Yao, and we made plans to talk a month later. The company looked impressive, in spite of the fact (and unbeknownst to me) that it was being run out of a two bedroom apartment in SoHo with just a handful of employees.

Carl and I met for the first time in Roseville, California, about 90 minutes away from my home in Lake Tahoe. After our lunch, I remember thinking to myself this sounds like it could be a lot of fun. About a month later, on the day my first son was born, I quit my job and started with CSOFT. I remember the anticipation of starting a new chapter in my life, both personally with a new child, and professionally, with this exciting new career opportunity with CSOFT.

What three adjectives would you use to describe CSOFT back then?

Ambitious. Aggressive. Risk-taking. Carl was not only my first boss at CSOFT, but also my mentor in his role as the head of sales. He is incredibly determined, really good at thinking on his feet, and fearless. If someone had a good idea back then, his mantra was – and still is – to “just do it” – stop talking about it, stop thinking about it, just move forward. These are great words to live by.

How would you describe CSOFT now?

Dynamic, definitely. We’re still incredibly ambitious. And we’re more global now, for sure. Back then, we were a company based in China, even though most of the founding members were both educated in the States and all had experience abroad. And now look at us!

When people ask “Well, aren’t you just a Chinese company?” I suggest they go on our website: and look at our management team. We are a multi-national, multi-cultural team of individuals working together from more than 9 different locations around the globe.

Do you have any memorable stories to share?

My favorite story was when Shunee, Tammy [Werner] and myself had the opportunity to go to the New York Stock Exchange in 2011, at the invitation of Business Wire. Standing on the NYSE floor was a pivotal moment – I felt like we went beyond a localization provider startup to a global communications firm.

That day, Warren Buffett from Berkshire Hathaway, the parent company of Business Wire, would be ringing the bell. As we stood on the NYSE floor and witnessed this moment, I felt immensely proud of how far CSOFT has come, and at the same time inspired to reach for so much more.

After the ceremony, we were invited to a private lunch with Mr. Buffett and about 50 or so people, where he answered questions, moderated by  Cathy Baron Tamraz, the CEO of Business Wire. An avid fan of CNBC (so much so, my 5 year old knows how to read the stock ticker), I felt incredibly honored to sit at the same table as Betty Liu from Bloomberg, who regularly appears on Squawk Box. But perhaps the greatest highlight of the day was when Shunee asked Mr. Buffet a question about entrepreneurship and business in China, which he answered very eloquently.

What are your expectations for CSOFT’s future? What are you most looking forward to?

CSOFT has morphed from a language service provider into a global communications company, yet in many ways, it feels like 9 years ago again, when we were just a startup. We’re redefining ourselves, and that’s exciting. With technology developing so quickly, it’s anyone’s guess how long traditional LSPs will be around. But the need for effective global communications is something every company experiences – that’s what we are helping businesses with today. There are always going to be differences between cultures and companies, and CSOFT wants to be there to help businesses, big or small, navigate those waters. Watching CSOFT move in that direction and being a part of that change is really exciting.

If you had to choose CSOFT’s 10th Year anthem, what song would you select?

Gangnam Style – not for lyrical content, but for what the song exudes. Flashiness, quirkiness, and creativity, which in many ways defines CSOFT.

If you’re interested in learning more about CSOFT’s 10th Annual World Summit, please contact csoft10@csoftintl.com

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