It’s clever stuff: an education that pays for itself. That achievement is important as education moves toward being given away online (see “The Most Important Educational Technology in 200 Years”). Teachers and universities are now running into the same problem journalists and movie studios have faced: how will they make any money if the content is free? No matter how cheap it is to pipe information across the Web, producing lessons and coursework is still demanding and expensive.
Duolingo, which launched in June, has raised $18.3 million in venture funding (see “Startup Has Language Learners Translating the Web”). It offers English lessons for Spanish and Portuguese speakers and lessons in Spanish, German, French, and Portuguese for English speakers. Around 300,000 people now use it each week.