After competing against Rosetta Stone, criticizing the rival, and then being acquired by it almost three years ago, the online language community Livemocha is saying its last goodbyes.
In an e-mail this week to Livemocha community members, Rosetta Stone and Livemocha announced that the Livemocha community will close permanently on April 22, and access to accounts will shut off after that date.
Seattle-based Livemocha was founded by serial entrepreneur Shirish Nadkarni. The idea came to Nadkarni when he “saw all the yellow boxes in the Rosetta Stone kiosk at the airport and said, ‘Why in the world is that service not on the Internet?’” as former Livemocha CEO Michael Schutzler explained in a 2011 GeekWire Startup Spotlight.
After filling the gap that it saw in Rosetta Stone’s language instruction, Livemocha became an online language community of millions. In 2013, Livemocha had 16 million active users and 35 employees.
At first, Livemocha began by offering free language instruction. Then, the company offered some premium courses that cost money — and people were willing to pay. In 2010, it was honored by Time Magazine as one of the top 50 websites.
As Livemocha grew and continued its online success, Schultzler continued to keep an eye on Rosetta Stone. When the other language company made its first forays into the online world, he called them an “embarrassment.”
Then, something changed. Schultzer said it was that Rosetta Stone got a new CEO, Steve Swad, whose leadership he admired. In 2013, Rosetta Stone bought the Seattle company for $8.5 million. Livemocha had raised more than $19 million in venture capital from Maveron, August Capital and others.
Schutzler briefly stayed with Rosetta Stone as a “senior advisor to the CEO,” but left after 4 months to become the CEO of the Washington Technology Industry Association.
Since then, the two companies have combined, with Rosetta Stone taking over Livemocha’s online infrastructure.
Here’s the full text of the e-mail this week:
As a Livemocha member and a language enthusiast, you’ve helped build a very special community. Over the past number of years, Livemocha has sparked countless conversations and connections among millions of language lovers around the world.
Unfortunately, the Livemocha community will close permanently on Friday, April 22, 2016, and you will no longer be able to access your account after that date.
We highly encourage you to remain engaged, make friends, use those remaining beans, and build life long memories with us for the next few weeks.
Because we appreciate you and remain committed to your language learning success we invite you to download our award winning mobile application; Learn Languages with Rosetta Stone from any of these leading application stores for free and try any of the 24 languages it offers:
Don’t worry if you are still on a traditional computer – try this.
We have some very exciting things planned for our language learning suite and we hope you will choose to stay with us through this journey.
The Rosetta Stone / Livemocha Team