#135: Luis Von Ahn on Learning Languages, Building Companies, and Changing the World

The Tim Ferriss Show

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#135: Luis Von Ahn on Learning Languages, Building Companies, and Changing the World

The Tim Ferriss Show

Luis von Ahn (@luisvonahn) is an entrepreneur and computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He is known for inventing CAPTCHAs, being a MacArthur Fellow ("genius grant" recipient), and selling two companies to Google in his 20's. Luis has been named one of the 10 Most Brilliant Scientists by Popular Science Magazine, one of the 50 Best Brains in Science by Discover, one of the Top Young Innovators Under 35 by MIT Technology Review, and one of the 100 Most Innovative People in Business by FastCompany Magazine. Luis is currently the co-founder and CEO of Duolingo, a language learning platform created to bring free language education to the world. With more than 100 million users, it is the most popular way to learn languages in the world, and it is the most downloaded app in the Education category on both iTunes (5-star average, 3,300+ reviews) and Google Play. I first met Luis as an early investor in Duolingo, and every time I meet him, I learn something new. In this conversation, we talk about: What 2-3 books and resources he'd recommend to entrepreneurs Language learning tips The clever way he caught cheating students at Carnegie Mellon Early mentors and key lessons learned The story of building and selling reCAPTCHA How to recruit and vet technical talent Duolingo's most surprising sources of users, and much more... Enjoy! Show notes and links for this episode can be found at www.fourhourworkweek.com/podcast. This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world's largest marketplace of graphic designers. I have used them for years to create some amazing designs. When your business needs a logo, website design, business card, or anything you can imagine, check out 99Designs. I used them to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body, and I've also had them help with display advertising and illustrations. If you want a more personalized approach, I recommend their 1-on-1 service. You get original designs from designers around the world. The best part? You provide your feedback, and then you end up with a product that you're happy with or your money back. Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade. Give it a test run. This episode is also brought to you by Headspace, the world’s most popular meditation app (more than 4,000,000 users). It’s used in more than 150 countries, and many of my closest friends swear by it. Try Headspace’s free Take10 program — 10 minutes of guided meditation a day for 10 days. It’s like a warm bath for your mind. Meditation doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive, and it’s had a huge impact on my life. Try Headspace for free for a few days and see what I mean.

***

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For show notes and past guests, please visit tim.blog/podcast.

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Luis von Ahn (@luisvonahn) is an entrepreneur and computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He is known for inventing CAPTCHAs, being a MacArthur Fellow ("genius grant" recipient), and selling two companies to Google in his 20's. Luis has been named one of the 10 Most Brilliant Scientists by Popular Science Magazine, one of the 50 Best Brains in Science by Discover, one of the Top Young Innovators Under 35 by MIT Technology Review, and one of the 100 Most Innovative People in Business by FastCompany Magazine. Luis is currently the co-founder and CEO of Duolingo, a language learning platform created to bring free language education to the world. With more than 100 million users, it is the most popular way to learn languages in the world, and it is the most downloaded app in the Education category on both iTunes (5-star average, 3,300+ reviews) and Google Play. I first met Luis as an early investor in Duolingo, and every time I meet him, I learn something new. In this conversation, we talk about: What 2-3 books and resources he'd recommend to entrepreneurs Language learning tips The clever way he caught cheating students at Carnegie Mellon Early mentors and key lessons learned The story of building and selling reCAPTCHA How to recruit and vet technical talent Duolingo's most surprising sources of users, and much more... Enjoy! Show notes and links for this episode can be found at www.fourhourworkweek.com/podcast. This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world's largest marketplace of graphic designers. I have used them for years to create some amazing designs. When your business needs a logo, website design, business card, or anything you can imagine, check out 99Designs. I used them to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body, and I've also had them help with display advertising and illustrations. If you want a more personalized approach, I recommend their 1-on-1 service. You get original designs from designers around the world. The best part? You provide your feedback, and then you end up with a product that you're happy with or your money back. Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade. Give it a test run. This episode is also brought to you by Headspace, the world’s most popular meditation app (more than 4,000,000 users). It’s used in more than 150 countries, and many of my closest friends swear by it. Try Headspace’s free Take10 program — 10 minutes of guided meditation a day for 10 days. It’s like a warm bath for your mind. Meditation doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive, and it’s had a huge impact on my life. Try Headspace for free for a few days and see what I mean.

***

If you enjoy the podcast, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts/iTunes? It takes less than 60 seconds, and it really makes a difference in helping to convince hard-to-get guests. I also love reading the reviews!

For show notes and past guests, please visit tim.blog/podcast.

Sign up for Tim’s email newsletter (“5-Bullet Friday”) at tim.blog/friday.

For transcripts of episodes, go to tim.blog/transcripts.

Interested in sponsoring the podcast? Visit tim.blog/sponsor and fill out the form.

Discover Tim’s books: tim.blog/books.

Follow Tim:

Twitter: twitter.com/tferriss 

Instagram: instagram.com/timferriss

Facebook: facebook.com/timferriss 

YouTube: youtube.com/timferriss

Past guests on The Tim Ferriss Show include Jerry Seinfeld, Hugh Jackman, Dr. Jane Goodall, LeBron James, Kevin Hart, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jamie Foxx, Matthew McConaughey, Esther Perel, Elizabeth Gilbert, Terry Crews, Sia, Yuval Noah Harari, Malcolm Gladwell, Madeleine Albright, Cheryl Strayed, Jim Collins, Mary Karr, Maria Popova, Sam Harris, Michael Phelps, Bob Iger, Edward Norton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Neil Strauss, Ken Burns, Maria Sharapova, Marc Andreessen, Neil Gaiman, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Jocko Willink, Daniel Ek, Kelly Slater, Dr. Peter Attia, Seth Godin, Howard Marks, Dr. Brené Brown, Eric Schmidt, Michael Lewis, Joe Gebbia, Michael Pollan, Dr. Jordan Peterson, Vince Vaughn, Brian Koppelman, Ramit Sethi, Dax Shepard, Tony Robbins, Jim Dethmer, Dan Harris, Ray Dalio, Naval Ravikant, Vitalik Buterin, Elizabeth Lesser, Amanda Palmer, Katie Haun, Sir Richard Branson, Chuck Palahniuk, Arianna Huffington, Reid Hoffman, Bill Burr, Whitney Cummings, Rick Rubin, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Darren Aronofsky, and many more.

See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

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