Friday, November 27, 2015

Babbel buys PlaySay

Users have 45 days to switch apps

Babbel buys PlaySay

Twins Jason and Ryan Meinzer of Hershey (left). Ryan founded the social language learning app, which was purchased by for an undisclosed price.
Twins Jason and Ryan Meinzer of Hershey (left). Ryan founded the social language learning app, which was purchased by for an undisclosed price.

PlaySay, the Philadelphia-based iPhone "social language learning app" founded by Temple grad Ryan Meinzer in 2008 and backed by Novak Biddle Venture Partners, has been acquired by Berlin-based online language teaching firm for an undisclosed price.

Meinzer, who's from an entrepreneurial family (his parents run Hershey Trolley Works, his brother Jason started Philadelphia's CityRyde bike share, which has morphed into the Zagster bike service) is taking a job with apps-builder Heroku and is also being recruited as a strategic adviser by Babbel.

Babbel, headed by Markus Witte, claims more than 8 million downloads of its smartphone applications and claims to have tripled its business in the past year.  PlaySay was a finalist in the 2011 TechCrunch Disrupt show and claims status as a popular app download in the U.S. and other countries, but Meinzer had recently told friends he was looking to sell the business.

Adds Babbel: "Users of PlaySay can continue to use the app for at least 45 days and can also access the Babbel language learning apps on the web, for the iPhone or the iPad."


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PhillyDeals posts interviews, drafts and updates that Joseph N. DiStefano writes alongside his Sunday and Monday columns and ongoing articles about Philadelphia-area business.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn. He taught writing and research at St. Joe’s. He has written for the Inquirer since 1989, except when he left a few times to work at Bloomberg and elsewhere. He wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six kids with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at, 215.854.5194, @PhillyJoeD. Read his blog posts at and his Inquirer columns at Bloomberg posts his items at NH BLG_PHILLYDEAL.

Reach Joseph at or 215 854 5194.

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