Adiós and sayonara, CD-ROMs: Rosetta Stone offers old-school users a free mass upgrade - GeekWire
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No more yellow box: The Rosetta Stone app for iOS is part of a digital lineup that also includes Android and web versions. (Rosetta Stone image)

If you’re familiar with the language learning software Rosetta Stone, there’s a good chance you associate the brand with big yellow boxes and CD-ROMs. In fact, you might still have some in the closet. Worse yet, maybe you’re still using them.

News flash: It ain’t 1995 anymore.

Nearly three years after Rosetta Stone stopped offering its products on interactive CD-ROMs, the company is opening a one-week window, starting July 1, for what it politely calls its “legacy customers” to claim a free lifetime, single-language subscription to the modern version of Rosetta Stone for iOS, Android and the web.

Rosetta Stone President Matt Hulett is a longtime Seattle tech and business leader.

“We have millions of people who have used the CD-ROMs, and no matter what I do, people think we still have CD-ROMs,” said Matt Hulett, the longtime Seattle entrepreneur who has been Rosetta Stone’s president since August 2017. “We literally still get customer support questions about people wanting to use the CD-ROMs. And so we’re like, how do we just get this done?”

They’re calling it “Ditch the Disc.”

Hulett’s personal breaking point on the issue may have come when his doctor asked him how to get a Rosetta Stone CD-ROM to play in his Volvo.

In addition to reducing support costs, Rosetta Stone is betting that customers who take advantage of the offer might buy future products like tutoring and new forms of content. It’s also a chance for the company to show off the modern features of the latest Rosetta Stone apps, including speech recognition technology, learning plans tailored to individual goals, and live lessons from language coaches.

In addition to CD-ROM users, Rosetta Stone is also making the offer to people using its legacy downloadable software. All told, the company estimates that as many as 4.5 million users could theoretically qualify.

It’s a $200 value, but it will only be available from July 1 through 8. Users will need to provide proof of ownership via the product activation key on the box or in the software settings, or with the email address that was originally used to purchase or sign up. The company says customer service representatives will be ready to help if neither of those approaches works.

Rosetta Stone, founded in 1992, is a publicly traded company based in Arlington, Va., led by CEO and Chairman John Hass. Competitors including Duolingo, Babbel, McGraw-Hill Education, Berlitz, Pearson’s and many others. Revenue rose 5% to $182.7 million last year, with a net loss of $13 million, an improvement over a loss of $21.5 million a year earlier.

Hulett is part of a 40-person Rosetta Stone office in Seattle. Before joining Rosetta Stone, he was entrepreneur-in-residence at Pioneer Square Labs.

His career in Seattle tech includes roles as chief product officer for Seattle startup TinyPulse; CEO at ClickBank; chief revenue officer of RealNetworks’ RealGames unit and president of the company’s GameHouse division; CEO at AdXpose; president of Expedia’s business travel group Egencia; and president of Atom Entertainment.

In response to COVID-19, Rosetta Stone previously announced unlimited site licenses for its existing K-12 literacy and language customers for the school year, in addition to free 3-month student licenses through its consumer language business for families whose children are learning languages from 凯发官网登录手机版home.

More information on the “Ditch the Disc” upgrade program is available here.

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