Facing Competitors Like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone CEO Plots a Comeback

April 12, 2019

By Spencer Feingold

After years of falling revenue, Rosetta Stone wants to broaden its appeal beyond linguaphiles and become the premier language learning platform for people seeking expert fluency.

“We really view ourselves fundamentally as a communication company,” John Hass, Rosetta Stone's CEO, told Cheddar in an interview Friday. “We consider ourselves experts in language and literacy.”

Hass said that competitors, like Duolingo, have helped expand the market for language literacy services, but those competitors focus mostly on games and flash cards.

“What we do is truly immerse people in a language,” Hass said. Rosetta Stone allows users to "have a pedagogy that will not just help them learn words but will get them speaking.”

Rosetta Stone, which began selling language lessons on tapes and CD in 1992, has seen its revenue decline as the internet and online services have supplanted its business model. It has increased it efforts to be the top language learning service for businesses and schools.

The company earned $173 million in revenue last year, down from $194 million in 2016 and $261 million in 2014.

Hass said the drop in revenue is not from a lack of investment but from a transition in the business model, which shifted “revenue from being recognized upfront at the time of sale to receiving them over time.”

He said that demand for language learning services is greater outside the U.S. and that Rosetta Stone is prepared to meet that demand, especially among English language learners.

For full interview click here.