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Layoffs 2024: Duolingo's Strategic Shift

Duolingo Adopts AI Integration, Leading to Layoffs of 10% of Contract Workers

Duolingo, the language learning app with 24.2 million daily active users, recently laid off approximately 10% of its contract workers as part of a strategic shift towards increased reliance on artificial intelligence (AI).

This move aims to enhance content generation and sharing processes through advanced AI technologies.

While not all layoffs are directly attributed to AI implementation, the company decided to release some contractors at the end of 2023 to accommodate upcoming changes in AI-driven content creation.

Duolingo clarified that no full-time employees were affected by these layoffs, and efforts were made to explore alternative roles for those impacted before resorting to workforce adjustments.

Duolingo introduced "Duolingo Max," a subscription tier leveraging OpenAI's GPT-4 language model, which enables AI-powered features like interactive conversations with a chatbot and AI-generated explanations for correct or incorrect answers.

CEO Luis von Ahn emphasized the role of generative AI in accelerating content creation, stating,

"Generative AI is accelerating our work by helping us create new content dramatically faster."

Following the contractor layoffs, Duolingo plans to leverage AI for tasks such as sentence creation, translation lists, and reviewing user error reports for quicker corrections.

Despite the increased reliance on AI, Duolingo emphasized that human expertise continues to play a vital role in checking AI-generated work.

The company stated, "We are not swapping the expertise of human experts for AI. AI is a tool we are using to increase productivity and efficiency, to add new content, and improve our courses faster."

This move aligns with industry trends, as a November report revealed that 37% of surveyed companies had implemented AI to replace workers in 2023, with 44% anticipating technology-related layoffs in 2024.

Other education technology firms, such as Chegg and Dropbox, have also made strategic adjustments, with Chegg citing an AI strategy in its layoffs.


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