Duolingo swipes Tinder in a Clash Royale

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

For this week’s deep dive, Alex and Danny unpacked Natasha‘s latest project: The Duolingo EC-1. The 12,000 word four-part series was published last week and is worth a read. But, until you get to it, enjoy our podcast that doubles-clicks into its most interesting bits.

Duo, Duolingo’s mascot, flying around. Image Credits: Duolingo

Here’s how it went, after we got our morning allergy banter out of the way:

What’s an EC-1? A TechCrunch-style deep-dive into one of the startup world’s most promising, and interesting companies.
What’s with the flying vermin up above? That’s Duolingo’s mascot. Which is a combination of hypercutness and modest menace. (You will have fun learning a language. Or the owl will visit.)
Why did we write about Duolingo? No, it wasn’t only because Duolingo is edtech. Natasha dug into the company’s product-led growth mode, and its views on gamification, which were fascinating.
What’s up with today’s show name? As it turns out, Duolingo has a Tinder angle. In fact, Duolingo leaned on some of the biggest companies out there when it came to design and monetization.
And as with all edtech companies, we talked monetization and outcomes!

The Duolingo EC-1 comprises four main articles numbering 12,200 words and a reading time of 48 minutes. Here’s what’s in store:

Part 1: Origin story “How a bot-fighting test turned into edtech’s most iconic brand, Duolingo” (3,300 words/13 minutes) — looks at how Guatemalan immigrant entrepreneur Luis von Ahn pivoted from fighting bot attacks on login screens with squiggly text to building one of edtech’s great success stories.
Part 2: Product-led growth strategy “The product-led growth behind edtech’s most downloaded app” (3,000 words/12 minutes) — analyzes the tactics and tradeoffs that an edtech company has to evaluate as it grows from thousands to 500 million registered learners.
Part 3: Monetization “How Duolingo became fluent in monetization” (2,800 words/11 minutes) — examines how Duolingo experimented with a variety of different business models to match its unique community, and why it chose subscription in the end.
Part 4: New initiatives and future outlook “Duolingo can’t teach you how to speak a language, but now it wants to try” (3,100 words/12 minutes) — explores how Duolingo is launching new business lines, their chances for success, and how the company is attempting to expand its main product from basic language fluency to mastery while adding speaking skills to the mix.

And of course, use code Extra Crunch “Equity” for a sweet, and perhaps the best, discount to access this story and all of our best stuff.

Until Friday!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.