Just this week Rosetta Stone acquired Seattle-based online language-learning community Livemocha for $8.5 million in cash. At exit Livemocha had a 16 million member online language-learning community. It had also raised $19 million over six years. But today Busuu, a competing language-learning community based out of London, announces that it has reached 30 million users and its launched a dedicated iPad app for kids to learn Spanish.
It now reaches into 200 countries, and could lay justifiable claim to being the largest language learning community in the world. They also say they are growing at 40,000 new users a day with growth mainly coming from emerging markets like Brazil, Russia and Turkey, where clearly learning a language can help you get on.
In October last year Busuu raised a Series A investment round of €3.5 million from PROfounders Capital in London and private investors. So as you can see, this is potentially going to be a much bigger exit than Livemocha if or when it happens.
Cofounder and CEO Bernhard Niesner told me: “Having raised 19m usd and selling for 8m usd [Livemocha] is obviously not a great exit. But this goes back to what you actually do with the money you have raised and it seems that they burned through their cash focusing on the wrong areas. We have raised only 4.2m EUR in total and grew to 30m users, simply because we had been very careful in looking at the user metrics and trying to improve our product day after day. We still have a long way to go and online education in general is at a very early stage, but it´s as simple as in any other industry: if people like your product because it works, they will come back, recommend it to their friends and actually pay for it.”
Developed after the startup created its ‘Kids learn English with busuu’ app (which has been downloaded over 200,000 times) the new app is aimed at kids aged 4-7 years and teaches children 150 words of Spanish through 30 learning units.
A free basic version, containing three learning units, is available for download from the iTunes app store. Parents can then choose to upgrade to the full app for £6.99 / €8.99 or buy learning units in bundles of three for £1.49 / €1.79. [iTunes link]