Language Learning App Duolingo Raises $30M, Becomes First Pittsburgh-based Tech Startup to Reach Unicorn Status

Language Learning App Duolingo Raises $30M, Becomes First Pittsburgh-based Tech Startup to Reach Unicorn Status

Popular language learning app Duolingo has raised $30 million in a new round of funding and has becomes the first Pittsburgh-based tech startup to reach unicorn status.

The Series F round, led by Google’s parent company Alphabet’s investment arm CapitalG, has taken the company’s total raised to $138 million, and brought its new valuation to $1.5 billion – more than double the valuation at its Series E round back in 2017.

Founded in 2011, Duolingo is the world’s most popular language learning platform that enables anyone to learn any language for free. It offers 91 interactive and personalized courses across 30 different languages. Through gamification and bite-sized lessons, Duolingo offers anyone to learn to read, listen, and speak in most of the world’s prominent languages. The company also supports many niche vernaculars and fictional tongues such as Klingon.

Duolingo has reached 30 million monthly active users, and it has emerged as one of the most-downloaded educational apps in the world. It claims of annual bookings of $100 million, a big jump from $1 million less than three years ago.  The company has also added to the growth from its core language-learning app with new products, including podcasts for Spanish and French learners, and Duolingo Events, which connect language learners in person around the world. It has also added Duolingo Plus, a subscription-based option for the app that removes ads for users and provides additional features like offline access, for $6.99 per month.

Speaking about the company’s mission and on the latest funding, Duolingo Co-founder and CEO Luis von Ahn said,

“We started Duolingo with the mission of making education free and accessible to everybody, and I’m very proud that we’ve now also built a strong business. CapitalG has been a valuable partner to Duolingo over the past few years, and we look forward to using this investment to continue our growth and further solidify our position as the most widely used and top-grossing language learning app worldwide.”

Duolingo said it will use the newly raised funds on research and development for new products and hire new people to expand its team. Since its last funding round in 2017, the company has more than doubled its employees from 95 to 200, and has opened additional offices in Seattle, New York, and Beijing. With the new funds, it plans to reach its team to 300 by the end of next year. The company also said that part of the funds will be used to grow its AI and machine learning capabilities.

Commenting on the investment, Laela Sturdy, General Partner at CapitalG, said in a statement,

“Duolingo has been adding user and revenue at an impressive pace, continuing to solidify their position as the No.1 way to learn a language globally. The team has demonstrated that sticking to their mission providing free education is not only good for the world but also good for business.”

Needless to mention, CapitalG is an existing investor of Duolingo and has also led the company’s Series D round in 2015. Duolingo’s last raise was $25 million Series E round led by Drive Capital in July 2017.

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About the Author
Author: Stephen Soulunii
Stephen Soulunii No more a student, but love to learn. Not a teacher, but care about how students are taught. Not an educator, but want everyone to be educated. Not a social worker, but desire to see change. Not a reformer, but always want to see a better world. The author believes that only sound education can bring a better future, better world and technology can help achieve a lot in this field.

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