Daily Israel Report

Israeli Company Helps the World Speak Better English

Israel's WhiteSmoke has helped millions improve their English writing skills - and is now offering an IPO.
By TechIsrael Staff
First Publish: 12/7/2011, 12:18 AM

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Morguefile

On Thursday, Israeli grammar software maker WhiteSmoke will be making its initial public offering (IPO) on the NASDAQ stock exchange. An IPO is usually a sign of maturity in a company – and that certainly describes the situation at this Israeli startup, especially in terms of its technology and marketing.

Whitesmoke makes grammar correction software, and is used by millions around the world to improve their English writing. WhiteSmoke sets itself up as a plug-in accessible in in most of your PC's programs, and makes suggestions based on the context of your writing to improve grammar. As the business world expands to encompass markets in the third world, more and more people who never learned English properly are finding it necessary to communicate people in the English-speaking West.

Grammar correction, unlike spelling corrections, are not always straightforward; often, it all depends on the context of the text. So, a much bigger "backend" is necessary in order to make sure the right corrections are offered at the right time. To make sure users get things tight, WhiteSmoke has a huge database of suggestions that When you ask it for help, WhiteSmoke will offer suggestions on fixing spelling and grammar errors, eliminating cliches, and dumping over-wordy phrases. It will also suggest enhancing your text via adverb and adjective suggestions.

The company has teams of expert linguists providing input for the program's database, making sure it have as many situations covered as possible. The information is processed through WhiteSmoke's unique technology based on Natural Language Processing, which allows the program to understand different contexts in which language is used, and which may be subject to different rules of grammar.

WhiteSmoke offers tools that are somewhat similar to those you would find in Microsoft Word – but it's different, the company says. Among other features, the system allows you to expand usability by adding plug-ins for specific industries; WhiteSmoke provides modules geared towards general usage, managerial jargon, and specialty terms and language used by doctors and lawyers.

And there's a great need for WhiteSmoke today, especially in the internet era, the company says. In today's business climate, it's tough enough beating the competition on price and service; you don't need the extra added burden of being stereotyped as having poor English factored in, as well. In fact, it's in writing that one really shows off their English language skills, or lack thereof; a grammatical mistake in speech comes and goes in a matter of seconds, while a writing error is forever, or at least as long as your correspondent keeps your message. Thus, using WhiteSmoke is an “insurance policy” to ensure that you don't miss out on a deal because of something as silly as “bad grammar.”

WhiteSmoke will seek to raise $17 million in Thursday's IPO, with each share valued at $9. The IPO will sell 45% of the company's shares. Currently, WhiteSmoke is sold through the company's site, and is also distributed as a toolbar installation for Google Chrome.

Some people consider WhiteSmoke to be a bit aggressive in its marketing efforts. The company doesn't relate to that issue, but it does say that there is a plague of bad grammar usage out there; and WhiteSmoke is the way to an “easier to read” world.