Update: Duolingo shares closed up 36% at $139, far higher than the opening share price of $102, making Duolingo's market cap nearly $5 billion.

It’s been a big year for edtech startups, and few had a better year than Duolingo. 

The language learning platform is set to go public tomorrow after revising its IPO price range, which now tops out at $100 according to its S-1 filing. That new share price could make the company worth up to $3.6 billion. If the IPO is successful, it could translate to big returns for Duolingo’s co-founders. 

Guatemalan entrepreneur Luis von Ahn founded Duolingo in 2011 along with perfectly named Swiss computer scientist Severin Hacker. Von Ahn had a successful track record with previous startups: He’s the mind behind Google’s reCAPTCHA technology, which he sold to the tech giant in 2009. He’s also won the MacArthur Fellowship and been called the “father of crowdsourcing.” 

Both founders stand to gain a lot from the IPO — even at $95, the lower end of the price range, von Ahn’s stake could be worth $374 million and Hacker’s could be worth $369.3 million.

One of the things that made Duolingo so successful was its appeal to our emotions. The company’s app captivated users thanks to Duo, its charming green owl mascot, and engaging course activities. If users miss a course, Duo sends them a friendly reminder. If they don’t use the app for a week, a notification says, “Duo misses you!” featuring a tearful Duo. And when users are doing well during a lesson, Duo encourages them to keep going with a little wave.

Thanks in part to its mascot, Duolingo is one of the top 10 biggest edtech companies in the world. During the pandemic, 30 million new users signed up to learn a new language (Duolingo offers courses in 40 languages, from Korean to Klingon). English remains the most popular course in 121 countries. Revenue soared from $70.8 million in 2019 to $161.7 million in 2020, a 129% increase — that growth translated to more employees, job listings, and app store reviews.

According to our data, Duolingo’s job listings have grown 138.46% in the past year, up from 39 listings in July 2020 to the current count of 93.

Duolingo’s employee headcount has risen steadily as well. The company saw no rounds of layoffs during the pandemic, and as a result has been growing steadily. In fact, its LinkedIn headcount has grown 63.58% in the past year. As for app store ratings, the total count has risen 34.67% to 1.18 million in the past year.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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