How Duolingo Makes Money

Duolingo is a platform on which users can learn over 40 languages, such as English or Spanish, free of charge.

Over 500 million people have signed up for the service thus far. 

Duolingo was founded in 2011 by Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker. The latter was one of von Ahn’s PhD students during his teaching stint at Carnegie Mellon. 

Prior to Duolingo, von Ahn had sold two businesses to Google. The most prominent one, reCAPTCHA, is now used by billions of people.  

Duolingo initially focused on providing translation services for firms like CNN but later pivoted towards language learning only.

The founders have raised over $180 million in funding for Duolingo, which went public on the Nasdaq in June 2021.

But how does Duolingo, which is completely free to use, actually make money?

The bulk (~ 90%) of the revenue that Duolingo generates comes from a premium subscription called Plus.

SUBSCRIPTIONS

ADVERTISING

Users on the free tier occasionally see ads, which appear within the progress board, between lessons, and within your profile.

LANGUAGE TESTS

In 2014, Duolingo launched online language proficiency tests that cost $49 per taken exam.

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