Duolingo acquires Detroit-based design studio Hobbs

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Language learning app Duolingo has made its second acquisition in the design space following its 2021 IPO. On Tuesday, the company announced it had completed a deal to buy Detroit-based animation and motion design studio Hobbs.

The studio was already working with Duolingo on a number of features, including its new product, Duolingo Music, and other animation design systems, product architecture and more. With the deal closing, 12 of Hobbs’ designers, motion animators, creative strategists, creative directors and producers will join Duolingo full-time and form the company’s first dedicated motion design team.

The company said the team will remain in Detroit, where their office is located right across from Duolingo’s Detroit office, which is roughly double the size of that office.

Terms of the deal were not immediately available.

Earlier in 2022, Duolingo acquired Gunner, another Detroit-based animation and motion design studio that works on game mechanics to make the app more fun and engaging. Design and animation are the core of the Duolingo experience, which makes learning a new language or skill like a game, not a dreaded task.

“Design is a key part of Duolingo’s success, particularly our use of character illustration and animation, which has really accelerated since adding Gunner to our team. Now we’ll be able to accelerate our use of motion-design by adding Hobbs’ unique talents to our design team,” Duolingo chief design officer Ryan Sims said in a statement. “We’re investing in the belief that a more animated product experience is more fun and enjoyable, and leads to better learning outcomes.”

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