SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Speak, a leading language learning platform that uses artificial intelligence to help people learn English, today announced its Series B round of $27M. The round is led by OpenAI Startup Fund and features participation from Founders Fund, Lachy Groom, Josh Buckley, Justin Mateen, Gokul Rajaram, and more. The funding will be used to accelerate development of new conversational language experiences through generative AI, faster expansion to new regions and languages, and more aggressive hiring to support these goals.
Vision & Growth
Founded in 2016 by Connor Zwick and Andrew Hsu, Speak is on a mission to help more people become fluent in new languages, starting with English—the global language of business and communication. With over 1.5 billion people actively trying to learn English around the world, the company is strategically positioned to capitalize on this vast market opportunity.
Speak's innovative platform is designed to make language learning more accessible and engaging. The company has developed a collection of content experiences that allow learners to practice conversing in English, modeling every day scenarios and interactions. This helps remove the intimidation factor for many learners and lessens the need to rely on expensive human teachers, of which there are roughly 1000x fewer available than active learners.
The company initially launched in Southeast Asia with a particular focus on South Korea, a mature and demanding market when it comes to English language products. Speak has quickly gained traction, with double-digit million ARR and nearly 100,000 paying subscribers, making Speak the top grossing education app in the App Store. In 2022 alone, just under 15 million English lessons have been started on the platform, with users receiving over 10 million pieces of pronunciation feedback to help them improve their skills.
Experiences Enabled by Novel Research
Speak is creating a new AI tutor product that can have open-ended conversations with learners on any number of topics, providing real-time feedback on pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and more. By leveraging OpenAI's technologies in conjunction with its own language learning systems, structure, and pedagogy, Speak is poised to make this vision a reality. This AI tutor will be more affordable and patient than a human teacher, and will allow learners to practice at any time that suits their schedule.
“The development of this AI speaking companion has been a goal of Speak’s since inception, and recent advances in machine learning, particularly around large language models, have made this goal attainable,” said Chief Executive Officer Connor Zwick. “We have the ability to provide our users with a truly interactive, personalized experience that will transform the way they learn and communicate.”
The investment by the OpenAI Startup Fund unlocks a deeper relationship where OpenAI’s systems will power more of Speak’s user experience, and Speak will gain advanced access to new systems in development. “We are very excited to partner with the outstanding team at Speak, who are well-positioned to deliver on this powerful application of generative AI – making language learning effective and accessible,” said Brad Lightcap, COO of OpenAI and manager of the OpenAI Startup Fund. “Speak has the potential to revolutionize not just language learning, but education broadly, and this aligns with the OpenAI Startup Fund’s goal of accelerating the impact of powerful AI to improve people’s lives.”
This investment also allows Speak to grow its global presence, expanding our product faster to new languages and regions outside of Southeast Asia. Critically, this funding will allow the company to be more aggressive in hiring, with openings across engineering, machine learning, product, and operations teams. A list of available roles across its San Francisco headquarters and international offices can be found here.
Connor Zwick concluded, “We are eager to use this funding and partnership to further our mission of making language learning easy and affordable to everyone. Our goal has always been to make the world a little bit smaller by breaking down language barriers, and this investment will allow us to expand our reach even further.”
For more information about Speak, please visit speak.com.