Parlez-Vous 'Profits'?

Julie Schlosser

(FORTUNE Magazine) -- To see the real Rosetta Stone, one must travel to the British Museum. But lately a $30 million marketing blitz has made the company that bears its name almost ubiquitous. Founded in 1992 on the theory that immersion--not translation--is the best way to learn a foreign tongue, the maker of language-learning software is angling to become a Berlitz for the laptop set. The catalyst is 34-year-old CEO Tom Adams, a Swede who was formerly a commodity merchant in London. When he took over in 2003, Rosetta had a handful of sales kiosks and one ad in one publication. Now it has 82 sales kiosks in airports and malls--and a fresh ad campaign running in more than 60 magazines. (It also has new private-equity investors: Last year parent company Fairfield Language Technologies completed a management buyout led by ABS Capital Partners and Norwest Equity Partners.) A big customer is the U.S. Army. More than 70,000 soldiers are studying one of its 30 language programs. Adams says the company has quadrupled its revenues in the past 2 1D 2 years. It's on pace to take in around $100 million in sales this year. Rosetta, it appears, is learning to translate language into money.  Top of page