Duolingo Just Raised $35M. Udemy Got $50M. Both Are Valued Billions More.


Duolingo Just Raised $35M. Udemy Got $50M. Both Are Valued Billions More.

By Tony Wan     Nov 18, 2020

Duolingo Just Raised $35M. Udemy Got $50M. Both Are Valued Billions More.

Two of the fastest growing and most highly valued education technology companies are going down the alphabet as they raise subsequent rounds at higher and higher valuations.

Duolingo, the language-learning app developer, announced it had secured $35 million in a Series H round from private equity firms Durable Capital Partners LP and General Atlantic. This latest investment gives the Pittsburgh-based company a valuation of $2.4 billion—nearly a billion dollar more than its previous valuation when it last raised money in December 2019. To date, the company has raised $183 million in outside capital.

The funding comes on the heels of continued growth during an abnormal year. In March, the company reported a doubling of new users, which it attributed to more people learning from home as shelter-in-place orders were instituted in response to the pandemic. According to a company official, Duolingo currently has around 40 million monthly active users, and over 1 million subscribers who pay $6.99 per month. Another paid offering, an English proficiency exam for higher-ed admissions, has seen a 15-times growth in the number of test takers this year, with countries like India driving this business.

Along with advertising dollars, Duolingo expects its 2020 revenue could double—to nearly $200 million—compared to last year’s mark. Perhaps just as important, the company says it is now cash-flow positive.

In all, Duolingo claims its app has been downloaded more than 500 million times.

The new capital, according to a statement, will support continued research and development efforts to expand its language learning offerings. That also entails growing its headcount, which currently numbers 350 staff across offices in Pittsburgh, New York City, Seattle, and Beijing.

Duolingo currently offers 98 courses for nearly 40 different languages, and recently expanded to reach younger audiences with a new app that teaches children ages 3 to 7 how to read. It also produced a “true crime” podcast that aims to help listeners learn Spanish through the story of a bank heist.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Duolingo co-founder and CEO Luis von Ahn said the company is considering going public as soon as next year.

This latest investment round—Duolingo’s eighth since it launched in 2011—continues a hot streak for the education market, which has seen new investors, new funds and plenty of venture capital flow into edtech companies with established businesses along with those that have yet to release a product.

Fanning the fuel, investors say, is increased demand for and usage of digital learning tools in personal, schooling and workplace environments that are now virtual. And they are betting that many of these products, services and habits developed in response to the pandemic will stick around long after the health crisis is over.

Udemy, which offers an online marketplace where anyone can access, create and sell video courses, has turned its focus on the corporate learning market this year. And growth in this segment has attracted investors to return for its second fundraising round of the year.

The San Francisco-based company announced it has raised $50 million in a Series F round. Leading the deal is Tencent Holdings, the Chinese technology giant, reports Business Standard. Other investors include Learn Capital, a U.S.-based edtech investment firm.

Udemy raised the same amount in February for its Series E round. But between them, Udemy’s valuation has grown from $2 billion to $3.25 billion.

Udemy claims its platform now serves 35 million students and 57,000 instructors who teach over 130,000 courses. Subjects range from arts and hobbies to specific skills, like programming, for professional development. Last month, Udemy announced that its corporate learning offering, which curates courses from its platform that cover subjects and skills relevant to what employers want their workers to learn, reached $100 million in revenue.

A company spokesperson declined to comment on whether the company is profitable. Udemy has now raised more than more than $273 million since it was founded in 2009.

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