Language learning app Speak nets $20M, doubles valuation

  • Speak, a language learning app, netted $20 million and doubled in valuation.
  • Spead is designed to teach language by having users learn speaking patterns and practice repetition in crafted lessons rather than memorize vocabulary and grammar.

Speak’s fundraising success and valuation doubling reflect investors’ high level of trust in its business model and market potential. This will not only help the company further expand its services and technology, but also attract more talented people to join and drive its global growth and influence.

–Revel Cheng, BTW reporter

AI-powered language learning app Speak is on a tear.

What happened

Since launching in its inaugural market of South Korea in 2019, Speak has grown to over 10 million users, CEO and co-founder Connor Zwick said. Its user base has doubled every year for the last five years, and Speak now has customers in more than 40 countries.

The company this week closed a $20 million Series B extension led by Buckley Ventures, with participation from the OpenAI Startup Fund, Khosla Ventures, Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham, and LinkedIn executive chairman, Jeff Weiner. The capital injection brings Speak’s total raised to $84 million and doubles the startup’s valuation to half-a-billion dollars.

Speak, launched in 2014 by Zwick and Andrew Hsu, who met while at the Thiel Fellowship, is designed to teach language by having users learn speaking patterns and practice repetition in crafted lessons rather than memorize vocabulary and grammar. In this way, it’s not dissimilar to Duolingo, particularly Duolingo’s newer generative AI features. But true to its namesake verb, Speak emphasizes verbalizing above all else.

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Why it’s important

Speak started with English, and has since launched lessons in Spanish, powered by a speech recognition model trained on in-house data. Next up is French, but Zwick didn’t say exactly when it will launch lessons for that.

“Our core philosophy is centred around getting users to speak out loud as much as possible,” Zwick said. “Attaining fluency helps people form connections, connect cultures and create economic opportunity. It remains the most important part of language learning for people, yet historically, the least supported through technology.”

Speak makes money by charging $20 per month, or $99 per year, for access to all of the app’s features, including review materials and one-off courses.

With a 75-person workforce across offices in San Francisco, Seoul, Tokyo and Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia), Speak’s near-to-long-term roadmap is developing new models that deliver better real-time feedback on tone and pronunciation, Zwick said.

This event has far-reaching implications and significance for the field of language learning and technological innovation.


Revel Cheng

Revel Cheng is an intern news reporter at Blue Tech Wave specialising in Fintech and Blockchain. She graduated from Nanning Normal University. Send tips to

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