Duolingo, filed for release on June 28, 2021. According to documents submitted to the US SEC, the language learning app is expected to be listed on the Nasdaq as “DUOL.”
This IPO follows a year of growth for the edtech leader. Edtechs, including language applications, were already gaining ground before Covid; but demand exploded during lockdowns.
Filing documents show that Duolingo’s revenue increased 129% in the 12 months ended December 31, 2020 to reach $ 161.7 million. The streak continued into 2021 with revenue for the quarter ended March 31 up 97% to $ 55.4 million from the comparable period last year.
The company derives 73% of its turnover from paid subscriptions to its language learning application (Duolingo Plus); the rest comes from advertising revenue (17%) and Duolingo English Test (10%), its certification exam.
While Slator has historically not covered language learning per se – unless it is part of a larger language service offering (e.g. Honyaku Center) – edtech use cases are emerging more and more in the sphere of localization.
Speaking at the Data-for-AI panel at SlatorCon Remote in May, Casper Grathwohl, explained how the datasets generated during the localization process are useful for tech companies. Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages at Oxford University Press, said: “Edtech uses AI to create a conversational, adaptive and personalized experience for a particular student. Our data can support a lot of this.
Another thing: Duolingo’s first business model included translation services and it was once known as the “language learning and translation app”. The company mainly outsourced translations, serving clients such as CNN.
As Slator mentioned in 2016, Duolingo moved away from translation after realizing the wide logistical range and extreme concentration that the service would involve – and, furthermore, said Duolingo, the goal was to create an edtech business.
Duolingo, based in Pittsburgh, was founded in 2011 by Luis von Ahn (of renowned CAPTCHA / reCAPTCHA) and Severin Hacker. The duo met at Carnegie Mellon University when von Ahn was a professor and Hacker his doctoral student.
An interesting 2011 TEDx talk ahead of Duolingo’s launch shows a young von Ahn explaining how the idea came to him and “my graduate student, Severin Hacker” – and how he wanted to “get a hundred million people to translate for free. Web in all major languages. . “
This first business model has, of course, evolved. Today’s language learning app users will be familiar with the following facts that appear on the screen occasionally: Duolingo has approximately 40 million monthly active users. There are more people learning Irish on Duolingo than there are native Irish speakers in the world. The courses are available in 40 languages. And, if you subscribe to Duolingo Plus, you are 4 times more likely to complete the course.
When Duolingo’s language learning software and competitor Rosetta Stone went public 12 years ago, it raised over $ 100 million on day one of trading. Duolingo had already preceded Rosetta in 2015, the same year, Duolingo closed a series D led by Google Capital.
Duolingo was last valued at $ 2.4 billion in a November 2020 Series H series. How much will it raise when it goes public? Slator will continue to monitor the business and provide updates as needed.