Duolingo, EdTech startup and the world’s most popular language-learning platform, files to go public
Duolingo started out in 2009 as a free app to help people of all backgrounds learn new languages. We last wrote about Duolingo in 2019 when the language learning app had 300 million registered users worldwide. Two years later, Duolingo is the most popular language-learning platform with over 500 million registered users and 42 million are active once a month. Duolingo is also the most downloaded education app worldwide.
Today, Duolingo announced its plan to go public as the company doubles its revenues year-over-year. In an IPO prospectus filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company said plans to list on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “DUOL.”
According to documents filed with SEC Monday, Duolingo saw 97% revenue growth year over year but net losses widened more than six-fold to $13.5 million in the three months ending March 31st.
Duolingo started out as a project led by Carnegie Mellon computer science professor Luis von Ahn and one of his Ph.D. students, Severin Hacker. At the time, von Ahn was looking for a new project after his success selling two businesses (reCAPTCHA) to Google in his 20s. He later saw an opportunity to turn the language learning model on its head and Duolingo was born.
Today, Duolingo offers 95 total courses across over 30 distinct languages — from the world’s most spoken, such as Spanish, French and Italian, to endangered languages like Hawaiian, Navajo, and Scottish Gaelic. Its app is available on iOS, Android, and Web. Duolingo’s mission is to make language education free and accessible to all. Its platform is free, designed to feel like a game, and scientifically proven to be effective.
In addition to its core platform, the startup also created the Duolingo English Test, an affordable and convenient language certification option accepted by more than 2,000 universities and institutions worldwide.
In an interview with The Guardian in 2014, von Ahn said: “There are 1.2 billion people learning a foreign language and two-thirds of those people are learning English so they can get a better job and earn more. The problem is that they don’t have equity and most language courses cost a lot of money.”