Duolingo raises $35M as pandemic drives people to learn new languages

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Duolingo has raised $35M thanks to COVID-19 related growth.
Image: Facebook | Duolingo

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone to find new hobbies and ways to stay entertained at home. For those who like an intellectual challenge, learning a new language is the perfect outlet. This has benefitted apps like Duolingo that make doing so easy and accessible.

The app has garnered more than 500 million downloads in its lifespan and is now being valued at $2.4 billion. It also just raised an additional $35 million in funding thanks to the pandemic-driven surge.

Duolingo is the latest service to thrive in the online learning, sometimes referred to as ed-tech, space as a result of the pandemic. Given the fact that COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, it looks like people will be enthusiastic about learning languages in 2021 and beyond.

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Duo’s Big Day

Last week, TechCrunch reported that Duolingo was close to completing a $35 million fundraising round. The company confirmed that it has now reached that goal thanks to a pair of investors. Durable Capital and General Atlantic pitched in for Duo’s latest funding round.

It’s worth noting that the investments push Duolingo’s valuation higher to the tune of $2.4 billion. That’s a big jump from $1.65 billion, which is where it was valued earlier this year.

While considering those numbers it is hard to ignore the impact of COVID-19. However, Duolingo’s growth isn’t exclusively tied to the pandemic. The entire ed-tech sector is having a moment. COVID-19 certainly provided the spark, but educators and businesses continue to rely on virtual learning solutions even though many schools have reopened.

As for Duolingo’s pandemic-related growth, the company says that its app has grown by 30 percent in 2020. It is a freemium app that allows users to learn languages for free while encouraging in-app purchases for additional features. That being said, it is one of the best free learning apps on the market as its paywalled features aren’t necessary to learn a language.

For some ed-tech apps, it’s hard to predict what the future will hold once the pandemic resides. Duolingo doesn’t have as much to worry about. The app has maintained a steady 100 percent revenue growth during each of the past three years.

Moreover, analytics firm Sensor Tower reports that it has been the highest-grossing education app since 2019.

Expanding Horizons

Although Duolingo’s primary purpose has always been teaching people to speak a new language, it has plans to expand in the coming years.

The company is already trying to capture the younger demographic. A separate app, Duolingo ABC, is specifically designed to help children learn to read and write.

In a statement, CEO Luis von Ahn says, “I’m proud of the impact we have achieved while also significantly growing our business.”

It will be interesting to see how Duolingo uses its latest funding. Likewise, it is worth keeping an eye on this company throughout the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic. If it can stay afloat once the virus recedes, Duolingo will be ready to enjoy a profitable future.

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