Duolingo closes $20 million deal with Kleiner Perkins

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A year of kudos for Shadyside-based language learning app Duolingo has been topped off with a new round of funding from one of the world's largest VC firms.

Duolingo founder Luis Von Ahn announced that the company has closed a $20 million round of funding lead by Menlo Park, Calif.,-based investment firm Kliner Perkins Caufield Byers. The firm has previously put its money on Menlo Park-based social networking company Facebook, New York-based music streaming service Spotify and San Francisco-based online gaming company Zynga to name a few. As part of the deal, Kliner Perkins partner Bing Gordon will join Duolingo's board as an observer.

Duolingo, which was named Apple's iTunes App of the Year in December, was recognized by San Francisco-based tech blog network TechCrunch with its "Crunchie" Award for Best Education Startup of 2013. The app uses a game-based strategy to teach users new languages. Those translations are used to transcribe large documents for paying Duolingo clients.

The new influx of cash will support Duolingo's plans to expand to translating additional languages and will support its plan to create a language certification exam as part of the app, Mr. Von Ahn said. He added that the funds will also go toward adding at least another 15 employees to its team of 34.

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