Speak Language Learning App Secures $20 Million Investment, Doubles Valuation


AI-powered language learning app Speak has been growing rapidly since its launch in South Korea in 2019. CEO and co-founder Connor Zwick revealed to Truth Voices that the app has accumulated over 10 million users, with a doubling of its user base every year for the past five years. Speak now serves customers in more than 40 countries worldwide.

The startup has secured additional funding to drive further expansion. This week, it closed a $20 million Series B extension, led by Buckley Ventures, with participation from OpenAI Startup Fund, Khosla Ventures, Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham, and LinkedIn executive chairman Jeff Weiner. The investment brings the company’s total raised to $84 million and increases its valuation to half a billion dollars.

Speak, founded in 2014 by Zwick and Andrew Hsu, offers a unique approach to language learning. It encourages users to learn speaking patterns and practice repetition through crafted lessons, rather than memorizing vocabulary and grammar. This methodology is similar to that of Duolingo, but emphasizes speaking aloud above all else.

Image Credits: Speak

“Getting users to speak out loud as much as possible is at the core of our philosophy,” Zwick said. “Achieving fluency helps people form connections, connect cultures, and create economic opportunities. This remains the most important aspect of language learning, yet has historically been the least supported by technology.”

Speak initially launched with English and later introduced Spanish lessons, powered by an in-house speech recognition model. French is expected to be the next language added to the platform. The app generates revenue through its monthly or annual subscription plans, which include access to all features, review materials, and one-off courses.

With a workforce of 75 employees across offices in San Francisco, Seoul, Tokyo, and Ljubljana, Speak’s near-term plans involve developing new models to provide better real-time feedback on tone and pronunciation.

Kyle Wiggers
Kyle Wiggers
Kyle Wiggers is a senior reporter with a special interest in AI. His writing has appeared in VentureBeat and Digital Trends, as well as a range of gadget blogs including Android Police, Android Authority, Droid-Life, and XDA-Developers. He lives in Brooklyn with his partner, a piano educator, and dabbles in piano himself.

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