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Lessons from 'Duolingo': From Startup to IPO

Karin Tsai  (Senior Director of Engineering, Duolingo)

Location: Room 202, South Hall

Date: Thursday, March 24

Time: 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Production & Team Management

Format: Session

Viewing Experience: In-Person

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: Yes

Duolingo is the leading mobile learning platform globally, with approximately 40 million monthly active users. Through its focus on making learning fun and gamelike, its flagship app has organically become the world's most popular way to learn languages. In 2021, Duolingo had the good fortune to successfully IPO. Karin Tsai, now Senior Director of Engineering, joined Duolingo in 2012 when there were about 15 employees. She shares in this talk the key decisions that she believes led to the eventual success of the company and how Duolingo gracefully scaled from 15 employees to over 500. This session will cover ruthless prioritization, evolution of organizational design, and anticipated growing pains and how Duolingo handled them.


Attendees will hear the story of a startup that scaled successfully and the key decisions made along the way. They will learn how Duolingo thought about prioritization with limited resources, organized to anticipate growth, and handled common growing pains that can be addressed proactively.

Intended Audience

This lecture's takeaways will be most applicable to those in organizations that are looking to grow and scale (entrepreneurs, startup employees, etc.). However, anyone interested in hearing about the startup journey, and how ideas presented in this lecture may apply to their own companies, is very welcome to attend!