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Online language tools lure German venture firms

Lesson Nine, the German company behind language social network Babbel, raises a first round of financing from Kizoo and Berlin's VC Fonds.

Babbel, a free site and social network for learning French or Spanish, on Monday said it raised a first round of financing from the Germany-based venture firms Kizoo and VC Fonds.

Babbel's parent company, Lesson Nine, which is also based in Germany, launched the site in January with tutorials, audio, and visual tools to help people learn as many as five languages. The site also offers a community so that a newbie member could find a learning partner. With the money, Lesson Nine plans to expand the site with new grammar lessons for basic to intermediate levels.

The company did not disclose how much money it raised, but according to a source familiar with the deal, it was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Lesson Nine was established in August 2007 with funds from its four founders, Lorenz Heine, Thomas Holl, Toine Diepstraten, and Markus Witte.