96: Luis von Ahn, Duolingo CEO: Could Language Be Key to Closing the Wealth Gap?

 
 Luis von Ahn is founder and CEO of Duolingo; he also pioneered Captchas.

Luis von Ahn is founder and CEO of Duolingo; he also pioneered Captchas.

Luis von Ahn is familiar with the idea that education is a great equalizer, but the reality he’s observed is different. More often than not, the opportunity for an exceptional education is available only to the wealthy – and it makes them even wealthier. 

So what can be done about it? 

Von Ahn was born in Guatemala, where much of the population is poor. So after he struck it rich selling a company to Google, he decided to build technology that really does address the wealth gap, by targeting one type of education that does make a difference: language. 

That was the genesis of Duolingo. Today, it has touched 300 million users, and has both ad-supported and subscription versions.