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Founder of Duolingo Severin Hacker on Google and AI

Founder of Duolingo Severin Hacker on Google and AI

Will chatbots soon replace language teachers? Founder of Swiss Duolingo on AI – and Google

Zug-based Severin Hacker co-founded language app Duolingo twelve years ago, which is now worth CHF5.3 billion. In an interview, he revealed what role artificial intelligence will play in the future, which languages ​​are gaining importance – and who learns the hardest.

Severin Hacker, a native of Zug, is the co-founder of the language education app Duolingo.


Severin Hacker studied computer science at ETH Zurich and then went to the US to get his Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. In 2011 he founded the language app Duolingo with his mentor, Luis von Ahn. Originally, the two wanted to develop a translation service for English websites, but this eventually led to Duolingo. A hacker once called it a “happy bug”. With the app, the forty-year-old from Zug wanted to offer as many people as possible the opportunity to learn a language for free. Basic knowledge is still free on Duolingo today. But since the IPO in the summer of 2021 at the latest, the company has also been concerned with turning a profit. That’s why Duolingo charges extra for advanced courses — including an upcoming AI-driven innovation, Hacker explains in an online interview.