Dec 4, 2019

Google backs Duolingo, Pittsburgh's first unicorn

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Duolingo, a Pittsburgh-based language-learning platform, raised $30 million in Series F funding led by Alphabet's CapitalG at a $1.5 billion valuation.

Why it matters: It's the Steel City's first-ever unicorn, and claims to be the world's most-downloaded education app.

Other investors include Union Square Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, NEA, Drive Capital, Ashton Kutcher, and Tim Ferriss.

The bottom line: "Duolingo said it will use the new funding to increase its employee base by 50%, with a plan to reach 300 by the end of next year. Part of it will go into new initiatives like podcasts, and a $49 English proficiency test for international students accepted by more than 400 institutions." — Jacob Douglas, CNBC

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Deaths of investment pioneers leave gap in institutional knowledge

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Venture capital and private equity are integral parts of America's economy, but neither has really been around for very long. It's something I've been reminded of over the past month, as several of the industries' founding fathers have passed.

Driving the news: Bill Macaulay in 1983 co-founded First Reserve, which would become the first global private equity firm focused exclusively on energy. Until 2017 he'd lead First Reserve, which has raised over $35 billion for its funds. Macaulay died last week at the age of 74, leaving behind wife Linda and daughters Elizabeth and Anne.

Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019

International college student enrollment falls for third consecutive year

George Washington University students. Photo: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A new Institute of International Education report shows that the number of international students newly enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities fell by 1% last academic year, per AP.

Why it matters: The drop marks the third consecutive year that enrollment for international students dipped, following 7% and 3% decreases in the two previous years, which were the first downturns in more than a decade.

Go deeperArrowNov 18, 2019

Plexo Capital raises $43 million to back minority-led VC funds

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Plexo Capital, founded by former Google Ventures partner Lo Toney to back early-stage VC funds led by women and underrepresented minorities, raised $42.5 million for its debut fund.

Why it matters: Despite many superficial displays of support for greater diversity among investor ranks, it's still tough VCs from underrepresented groups to raise funds.

Go deeperArrowDec 5, 2019