Duolingo acquires Detroit-based design studio Hobbes

Duolingo acquires Detroit-based design studio Hobbes
Duolingo acquires Detroit-based design studio Hobbes

Language learning app Duolingo has made its second acquisition in the design sector following its IPO in 2021. On Tuesday, the company announced it has closed a deal to buy Detroit-based motion and animation design studio Hobbes.

The studio had already been working with Duolingo on a number of roles, including its newest product, Duolingo Music, and other animation design systems, product architecture, and more. With the close of the deal, Hobbes’ 12 designers, motion animators, creative strategists, creative directors, and producers will join Duolingo full-time to form the company’s first dedicated motion design team.

The team will remain in Detroit, where its office is located across the hall from Duolingo’s Detroit office, nearly doubling the size of that office, the company says.

Terms of the deal were not immediately available.

Prior to this, Duolingo had acquired Gunner in 2022, another Detroit-based animation and motion design studio that worked on game mechanics to make the app more fun and engaging. Design and animation are central to the Duolingo experience, making learning a new language or skill feel more like a game than a task to be dreaded.

“Design is a core part of Duolingo’s success, particularly our use of illustration and character animation, which has really accelerated since we brought Gunner on board. We’ll now be able to accelerate our use of motion design by bringing Hobbes’ unique talents to our design team,” said Duolingo’s director of design Ryan Sims in a statement. “We’re investing in the belief that a more animated product experience is more fun and enjoyable, and leads to better learning outcomes.”

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