Livemocha Seeks to Upend Rosetta Stone, Taking Language Learning to New Heights Online

9/15/10

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languages—English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. These courses have four levels, and cost $150 each for a year, or $20 a month, compared to the $750 plus you’d have to shell out for the equivalent level courses on Rosetta Stone.

“By the time you complete all four levels, our promise is that you will be able to compete in conversational language skills in the language that you are studying,” says Livemocha co-founder Shirish Nadkarni.

The company has raised $14 million in financing so far, including $8 million in a Series B round led by August Capital, with participation from Seattle-based Maveron. The launch of Livemocha’s new service, which just happened to coincide with Rosetta Stone’s own product roll out, is all part of the company’s plan to expand its reach in the U.S., and plant a firm foot in the $50 billion language learning market.

“Our goal is kick Rosetta Stone’s ass starting on September 14, and not need any more VC funding,” Schutzler says. “This is a bit of coming out party for us in the U.S. to let people know we exist and that we have a brand new product that, frankly, blows the doors of anything else out there.”

Schutzler, who joined Livemocha in June with high ambitions for the social language learning company, is confident in the platform. In fact, he plans to keep experimenting with new social services—like Facebook and Twitter applications—down the line.

Livemocha has already gained traction with businesses and academic institutions looking for affordable and effective ways to engage employees and students in active language learning. “We have relationships with a number of university professors who have made Livemocha a requirement for the course curriculum,” Schutzler says. This, he says, has poised the company to aggressively pursue sales options.

On the brink of its U.S. expansion, Livemocha is prepping for growth. The 30-person company is moving to a brand new office in the first week of October, and is already recruiting—and will continue to “aggressively hire”—in anticipation, according to Schutzler.

“We’re not only growing rapidly, we’re having growth pains. We’re not hiring fast enough,” he says. And in a final throwing of the gauntlet, reiterating his every intention of blowing Rosetts Stone out of the water—and fast—Schutzler adds, “I would hate to see anyone waste their money on a yellow box.”

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Thea Chard is a correspondent for Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail her at theachard@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theachard. Follow @

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