What are your favorite stories from the early days of Duolingo? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Luis Von Ahn, co-founder of Duolingo, on Quora:

The early days were pretty chaotic but a lot of fun! Duolingo was most people's first job out of school (some were even still in school!), so there was essentially no organization and a huge allergy to bureaucracy. The only reason we got anything done was because we had such smart people--our first employees were basically the top people in their class at Carnegie Mellon University. Here are some specific things that come to mind:

  • When we were getting started, we had hired Silver Orange, an awesome design and development agency, to help us with our design and identity. As we were giving them guidance on what we wanted, our co-founder and CTO Severin Hacker (yes, that's his real name) said "I don't much care what you do in terms of style, but please don't use green. I hate green." Our mascot is a green owl because we wanted to annoy Severin.
  • Duolingo was chosen by Apple as the iPhone App of the Year, but our app was developed by two people who had never even used an iPhone before. David Klionsky, the engineer, had a Windows phone and had never developed for iOS. Tyler Murphy, the designer, had a flip phone...
  • Our first employee manual consisted of the following ten rules:
    1. Say "Good Morning, X" to everybody when you arrive.
    2. By implication, you must arrive in the morning (before 12:00), unless you were at the office the night before working past midnight ("the Android exception").
    3. Loose lips sink ships.
    4. Loose tweets sink fleets.
    5. Loose pants make friends.
    6. Be nice to our users.
    7. Do not eat other people's lunch.
    8. Hector is a co-worker, not a toy.
    9. It's ok to bring doggies to the office, but they must be house-trained. If your dog pees, they can't come for a month, if they poop they can't come for 2 months. Reptiles are not allowed. Dinosaurs will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
    10. All suspicious activity must be reported to Franklin.

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Published on: Jan 13, 2016