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Duolingo Boosts Design with Hobbes Studio Acquisition

Duolingo has expanded its creative arsenal with its latest acquisition: Detroit-based animation
July 10, 2024

Duolingo, the popular language-learning app, has expanded its creative arsenal with the acquisition of Detroit-based animation and motion design studio Hobbes, marking its second significant move in the design space since going public in 2021.

The acquisition, announced on Tuesday, solidifies Duolingo's commitment to integrating innovative design and animation into its platform. Over the past year, Hobbes has collaborated closely with Duolingo on various projects, including the development of Duolingo Music and enhancing animation design systems and product architecture.

With the completion of this deal, Hobbes' team of 12 designers, motion animators, creative strategists, directors, and producers will join Duolingo full-time. This acquisition not only doubles the size of Duolingo's Detroit office but also establishes the company's first dedicated motion design team.

According to Duolingo, the acquisition was structured as an "acqui-hire," combining cash with equity awards for the newly onboarded team. This strategic move follows Duolingo's previous acquisition of Gunner in 2022, another Detroit-based studio known for enhancing game mechanics within the app.

Ryan Sims, Duolingo's Chief Design Officer, emphasized the critical role of design in enhancing user engagement and learning outcomes. "Design is integral to Duolingo's success, transforming language learning into a playful experience through character illustration and animation," Sims commented. "By integrating Hobbes' unique talents, we aim to further elevate our product experience with dynamic motion designs that are both fun and effective."

Beyond expanding its animation capabilities, Duolingo anticipates that Hobbes' expertise will enhance its animation pipeline, elevate user experience (UX), and enrich interactions for learners across its platform.

With these strategic acquisitions, Duolingo continues to innovate in the edtech space, leveraging design to make language acquisition more accessible, engaging, and effective than ever before.

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