Steve Ridout Indie web developer and creator of Readlang

I'm Joining Duolingo

February 24, 2016

Less than two months ago 3 Years as a One Man Startup became my most read blog post by far. I ended it with:

Readlang is ramen profitable, helping more people every day, and there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Of course I’m continuing.

It reached the #1 slot of Hacker News and got over 59K views in just 2 days. HN sometimes gets a bad rap but I found the responses overwhelmingly positive and encouraging, even the critical ones. In amongst the hundreds of responses was an email from Severin Hacker, co-founder of Duolingo.

I wonder if you’re interested in a job?

I was in no mood to abandon Readlang, not least because January was shaping up to be its best month yet (it ended at $3200 revenue). But being a huge fan of Duolingo I had to learn more. A couple of chats with founders Luis and Severin, a programming challenge, and a bunch of emails later… and I’m due to start work in a couple of weeks.

Don’t worry — Readlang isn’t going anywhere. I designed it to be easy to maintain so there’s absolutely no reason to shut it down. I’ll fix bugs, ensure smooth running of the service (Linode outages permitting!), and may think about ways to reinvest some of the revenue to improve it. But I’m not good at focussing on many things at once, so for my own sanity I’m considering it feature complete while I get started at my new job.

This wasn’t an easy decision since it cuts short Readlang’s potential. But actually it’s already met the modest goals I set out to achieve 3 years ago. Despite the “struggling startup” angle of previous posts, I consider it a success.

If anyone paid a subscription to encourage future development and feels cheated by this, please get in touch and I’ll be happy to refund you.

As for the future, I’m excited to work with a world class team at Duolingo, and to create software that helps orders of magnitude more people than I’ve been able to on my own.