Headquarters:Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Countries of operation:Australia, US, UK and Germany
Market Capitalization:$4 Billion
Number of employees:400
Duolingo Uses Morgan Stanley at Work to Bring Their Equity Plan Public
As the most popular way to learn a language and one of the most downloaded education apps in the world, Duolingo is synonymous with the new age of learning a language. Founded in 2011, the company grew at a fast rate, and by 2019, they were growing their international employee base and preparing for IPO. Their existing equity plan management software was unable to take the company public and they needed to make a change quickly to a company that was able to manage their complicated IPO strategy.
Connecting the Dots
As fate would have it, Duolingo found their solution, the Shareworks platform, through an already existing connection to Morgan Stanley. The executive team had recruited their private wealth manager, Anthony Schmidt of the Fowler/Zaslow/Schmidt Group, to host financial education events for Duolingo employees. His series taught Duolingo equity compensation plan participants about their equity and financial wellness, so he asked the Morgan Stanley at Work team to join him and present on the Shareworks platform.
The Difference that Morgan Stanley at Work Makes
Ultimately, through this connection, the Duolingo team learned about how the different features of the Shareworks platform could address their two greatest concerns.
First, migration onto the Shareworks platform is straightforward. Duolingo was able to import its data directly onto the platform, rather than imputing awards one by one, for example, as many other migrations require. This easy migration was imperative as the team needed to switch their equity plan management software quickly.
Second, the Shareworks platform is fully customizable and handles a private-to-public transition seamlessly. Duolingo knew that the Shareworks platform would be able to handle their complicated IPO strategy.
The Private-to-Public Journey
The migration to the Shareworks platform took just three weeks, and the team was ready to pivot to IPO readiness. Duolingo had a unique IPO structure that required customization on the platform. Forgoing the traditional IPO, shares had an early lock up release period with a maximum number of shares that a person could sell.
Training and communication were essential parts of Morgan Stanley at Work’s plan to help Duolingo achieve a successful IPO. The Morgan Stanley at Work team set aside dedicated time to train both the Duolingo team and Duolingo Equity Plan Participants on how to use the Shareworks platform before the IPO date.
On the day of the Duolingo IPO, the Morgan Stanley at Work team set up a day-of-listing dedicated team – comprised of both private and public teams. The communication was seamless. “We were available to answer any questions and solve last minute problems in real time”, according to Vice President, Private Market Solutions Adrian Diaz. The Duolingo team in NYC would reach out to the Morgan Stanley at Work team with questions, and the Morgan Stanley at Work team was available with answers immediately on the fly leading to a smooth IPO.
After the IPO, the Morgan Stanley at Work team helped Duolingo build the foundations of their equity plan vision, including the overall experience as a company with their participants. “They have a vision for what they want to see, and they have utilized the Shareworks platform to bring those visions into reality,” said Charles Sams, Relationship Manager.
Learn more about how Morgan Stanley at Work can help with your equity plan here.