#86 Luis Von Ahn – CEO of Duolingo

#86 Luis Von Ahn

I wonder how many of you may know, that the widely popular company known as Duolingo, has it’s base right here in Pittsburgh, PA?  I sure didn’t.  After trying many language courses, Rosetta Stone, and even regular CD’s you can listen to on your way to work (never happens), I  found myself drawn to the free app that is Duolingo. I just happened to be browsing online one day, and noticed from their website, that they are Pittsburgh based! What, what?

If you listen to my show, you know I love traveling, and merging my cultural experiences with my beloved hometown of Pittsburgh.  Finding out that Duolingo was based here, and that I was addicted to the app, just made my day!  I had to find out who was behind this, and get them on the show.

Turns out a gentleman by the name of Luis Von Ahn created Duolingo.  I reached out, scheduled an interview, and a tour of the office.  Wanting to come prepared for the podcast, I started researching Luis, and found myself blown away by what he has accomplished in his 38 years.  Luis is the inventor of the CAPTCHA.  You all know what that is, the box at the bottom of almost any screen, with fuzzy words, that let’s you prove you are not a robot.  Along with that, he created reCAPTCHA, and ESP game, and now Duolingo, among various other notable projects.

Luis has been named one of the 50 Best Brains in Science by Discover, voted in Silicon’s 50 Most Influential People in Technology, and has been recognized as a Brilliant 10 by Popular Science.  His credits are almost too long to list, and I cannot wait to see what he does next.

To be honest, once I started researching Luis, I was extremely nervous to chat with him.  The man is, in fact, a genius, and I suddenly found I wasn’t very sure of myself.  It turns out, that I did not have to worry at all, and was pleasantly surprised to find him funny, open, and candid.  I truly enjoyed my time spent chatting with him about the origins of Duolingo, and what sent this kid who grew up in Guatemala down his path to  success.  I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.

Also, a personal note to Luis. I am still available to be a squatter at Duolingo.  I could clean the floors, take out trash, bring coffee, you name it. Ha Ha! (I am only partly kidding.) It is probably the coolest work place I have ever seen in my life.   You can hear more about my tour with them in the intro of the podcast.

If you haven’t downloaded Duolingo yet, I HIGHLY suggest it.  My husband and I practice it every morning, and we have found our Italian to be so much better.  It has an amazing success rate, and more importantly, in our busy schedules, it is FUN.  I wake up to the owl every morning 🙂

This episode is sponsored by Levity Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh’s best sensory deprivation chamber with a spa like atmosphere.  All listeners get $5 off with code “Marta”

Luis Von Ahn
Luis Von Ahn
He humored me in my thought bubble photo wish. Thanks Luis!
Had a wonderful time touring the office of Duolingo.
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16 thoughts on “#86 Luis Von Ahn – CEO of Duolingo

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