Busuu, an AI-powered language learning platform, has acquired Verbling, a live video tutoring startup based in San Francisco, for an undisclosed amount said to be in the tens of millions.
The London-based edtech startup has been expanding rapidly to take on traditional giants like Duolingo, another language learning company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a result of the acquisition, Busuu will now use the Verbling platform to venture into the live video tutoring space for its consumer users and corporate clients.
Founded in 2008, Busuu offers 12 different language courses covering the four main language learning skills – reading, writing, listening, and speaking – from beginner to upper immediate level. Learners can follow the courses sequentially or pick and choose the topics that are most relevant to them. Busuu’s courses have been carefully crafted by its in-house linguist experts and enhanced with machine learning technology like personalized study plans and speech recognition. With 90 million plus strong community, the platform allows learners to practice language skills directly with native speakers worldwide. Busuu’s language learning product is available on both mobile and web, as well as offline.
Verbling, on the other hand, was founded in 2011 by two Swedish friends Mikael Bernstein and Gustav Rydstedt who met while studying at Stanford University. The company offers individuals to learn over 50 languages via video chat. It aims to empower people all over the world to become fluent in a foreign language. The platform currently has more than 10,000 pre-vetted live teachers from across six continents, providing interactive one-on-one lessons across all timezones globally.
Image Source: Verbling
Speaking about the company and on the latest development, Bernhard Niesner, Co-founder and CEO of Busuu, said,
“No matter how smart technology becomes, language will always be about human interaction – which is exactly why Busuu was built around a learning community. Offering live video tutoring through our acquisition of Verbling is a natural progression for our business, and gives us the potential to expand beyond just language learning in the future.”
Now, the new Verbling-based “Busuu live” will be a combination of their AI-powered learning content, interaction with other learners plus one-on-one live tutoring with professional teachers. And, following the deal, all Verbling’s team members, including its co-founders Mikael Bernstein and Gustav Rydstedt, will join Busuu.
Commenting on joining forces with Busuu, Mikael Bernstein, Co-founder and CEO of Verbling, said’
“We are very excited to be joining forces with Busuu’s talented and experienced team, combining our world-class tutors with Busuu’s AI-powered platform will enable language learners across the globe to reach proficiency even faster.”
Meanwhile, Busuu’s Bernhard Niesner said that the company is also planning to go public in the future.