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Language Startup Babbel Closes $10M Series B Funding To Expand Globally, Build Team

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Things are moving fast in the world of Babbel, the language learning startup out of Germany which has been scaling its international presence since we first started covering them back in 2009. Today Babbel is announcing a $10 million Series B funding round led by Reed Elsevier Ventures. Other investors include Nokia Growth Partners as well as existing investors, IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft via its VC Fonds Technologie Berlin, and Kizoo Technology Capital.

The funds will be used to accelerate international expansion and develop all platforms, especially mobile on the back of 200% growth per year since 2011, they say, reaching 15 million users. Owned by Lesson Nine GmbH, Babbel previously raised a total of $2.2m in equity and debt.

Last week it bought PlaySay, a TC Disrupt finalist that focused on creating mobile apps that turned the process of learning languages into a game – think “Draw Something” for languages. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Berlin-based Babbel is now used in over 190 countries, but its strongest base remains Germany, so it needs to expand in Europe, the U.S. and emerging markets. To help, it has number of relationships with different hardware manufacturers, platform providers and media.

Speaking to TechCrunch, founder Markus Witte said he hopes to push into France, UK, Italy, Spain and Brazil. “We definitely need to acquire talent. In the U.S. I guess we would need a team on the ground. The money will go into building the team and ramping up marketing. We’re in the consumer market, so getting channels like TV right is a challenge.”

He said Babbel was not “joining” Reed as this was not a “strategic investment, it’s a financial investment.” He confirmed that the founder team of himself, plus Lorenz Heine and Thomas Holl, are not ‘taking money off the table’.

Babbel offers over 6,500 learning hours for thirteen languages across web, iPad, iPhone, Android and Windows 8. Total app downloads have been over 8 million.

Tony Askew, General Partner at Reed Elsevier Ventures joins the board and says: “The startup has grown rapidly… and has built a large subscriber base which generates positive cash flow. It’s… well-positioned for explosive growth in the rapidly growing category of mobile and online language learning.”