Duolingo was part of a free education wave that hit the internet in the early 2010s, as entrepreneurs saw the tools of the web and mobile to as a way to open up entrenched institutions to the masses.
Luis von Ahn, who already had success selling two businesses to Google in his 20’s, saw an opportunity to turn the language learning model on its head. Instead of having to pay-per-hour or subscribe, Duolingo would be free to all, enabling people from all backgrounds to learn a new language.
Speaking to 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.”
Duolingo was a hit even before its official launch. In November 2011, the team launched a private beta and within a month 300,000 people had signed up on a waitlist. Over 10 million people downloaded the app in the first 12 months.
Instead of building a classroom-style product in an app, Duolingo took cues from the world of gaming to enhance the experience and keep users engaged. Users can compete against friends and random people by completing courses and receive rewards for streaks.
Duolingo also separated itself from other language learning services by using data to its advantage. It regularly runs tests to find an optimal way to design a course, testing users on how quickly they learn part of the language and changing the formula to smooth the learning curve.
In the past few years, Duolingo has embedded artificial intelligence into the app, to analyze mistakes and slightly alter the course to fit user requirements.
As Duolingo started to grow, users asked for more obscure and fictional languages to be added. Von Ahn used his experience as one of the pioneers of crowdsourcing to launch Incubators, which pull together linguists, native speakers and book readers to design a fully optimized course.
These incubators are responsible for several courses Duolingo now offers, including Welsh, Catalan, Latin and fictional languages from Star Trek and George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.
As part of Ahn’s commitment to Duolingo being more than a game, it offers English language certification for $20, much lower than the $250 it can cost in India, China and other countries. Users are able to take the test on Duolingo and results are sent back in 48 hours. In 2021, the company added more B1 and B2 level content, and plans to make courses even more in-depth with podcasts, freeform writing and audio lessons.
We have collected data and statistics on Duolingo. Read on below to find out more.
Duolingo key statistics
- Duolingo generated $250 million revenue in 2021, a 55% year-on-year increase
- Duolingo has over 500 million registered users, 37 million are active once a month
- Duolingo has 95 available courses in 38 languages
|Title 1||Title 2|
|Launch date||19 June 2012|
|People||Luis von Ahn (CEO), Severin Hacker (CTO)|
|Business type||Public (NASDAQ: DUOL)|
Duolingo made $250 million revenue in 2021, primarily from subscriptions to the company’s premium service.
Duolingo quarterly revenue 2020 to 2022 ($mm)
Duolingo annual revenue 2017 to 2021 ($mm)
Sources: Company data, TechCrunch
Duolingo monthly active users
Duolingo had 37 million monthly active users in 2021, a slight decrease on the 42 million users it had in 2020.
Duolingo quarterly MAUs 2020 to 2022 (mm)
Duolingo annual MAUs 2013 to 2021 (mm)
Duolingo daily active users
Duolingo’s daily active users increased by 3% in 2021, from 8.8 million to 9.1 million.
Duolingo quarterly DAUs 2020 to 2022 (mm)
Duolingo annual DAUs 2019 to 2021 (mm)
Sources: Company data
Duolingo reached 500 million total downloads in 2020, and received an additional 75 million downloads in 2021.
Duolingo cumulative downloads 2013 to 2021 (mm)
Duolingo’s valuation pre-IPO was $2.4 billion, which accelerated to over $6 billion in 2021. The tech selloff hit the company as well in 2022, dropping below $3 billion in value.
Duolingo valuation 2015 to 2022 ($bn)
Note: For market cap, value was taken in June of respective year. Sources: Company data, VentureBeat
Duolingo has over 100 courses available on its platform, including fake languages such as those in Star Trek and Game of Thrones.
Duolingo available courses on platform 2012 to 2022
Sources: Company data, TechCrunch
Duolingo users by language
English language users are the majority on Duolingo, according to data from Jakubmarian.
Duolingo users by language 2021 (mm)
Note: This accounts for registered users, not active. Source: Jakubmarian
Duolingo vs Babbel: revenue
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What is Duolingo’s most popular course?
English for Spanish speakers is Duolingo’s most popular course, followed by Spanish for English speakers
How many Duolingo users pay for premium?
Less than three percent of Duolingo users subscribe to its premium offering (BBC)
How many schools use Duolingo?
Over 100,000 schoolteachers use Duolingo in foreign language classes