KA’CHING: US edtech raised $225 million in May 2016, according to analysis by EdSurge. The funding was spread across 17 different deals; at least 34 unique investors participated.
Age of Learning lead the way in May funding with its $150M in Series D funding valuing the company at $1 billion. The Glendale, CA-based company was founded in 2007 by Doug Dohring and spent nearly four years with academic experts to design a curriculum to help children ages 2 to 7 develop the skills needed to succeed in school. These efforts laid the groundwork for ABCmouse, which was first released in late 2010 and now contains more than 650 lessons and 7,000 learning activities. The company currently enjoys more than one million family subscriptions, which cost $7.95 per month. (Each subscription allows for three individual child accounts.) Doing the math, the company rakes in more than $100 million in revenue each year.
Other big winners included $12.5M in Series B money to Speakaboos. Speakaboos was founded in 2008 and currently offers 200 interactive storybooks and songs. The tool also features illustrations, offline access, support for different reading levels, narration, word highlighting, animation and assessments. Kids can sort by bedtime stories, nursery rhymes, dinosaurs, princesses, and popular characters to find their favorite stories. Subscription costs $7.99 per month or $69.99 per year. New York City-based Skillshare has raised $12M in Series B funding from Amasia, Omidyar Network, with Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital Investment Group. Founded in 2010, Skillshare initially created an online platform where instructors can list local, in-person classes. A couple of years later, the company shifted its focus to allow anyone to teach online classes.
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Editor’s note: This analysis does not include mergers & acquisitions.
HIGH TECH SUMMER: Apple has added coding to the list of subjects taught in its annual Apple Camp sessions, which typically focus on learning how to use Apple products. TechCrunch reports. The three-day sessions, geared toward ages 8 to 12 and held in Apple's retail stores, will introduce students to coding through Tynker's block-based interface and Sphero's programmable robot. Registration is open, the camp is free and classes will be capped at around a dozen attendees, according to TechCrunch. Apple will offer one session per week in July.
DESIGN-AS-A-SERVICE: Learning-design platform Smart Sparrow introduced a service to help higher-ed institutions create digital courseware. Its Learning Design Studio gives faculty access to Smart Sparrow’s team of designers and engineers, which will work alongside faculty to help them implement their visions.
The Sydney and San Francisco-based company says its studio will empower educators by working alongside them to implement their vision, instead of providing prepackaged course software that they have little control over. “Our Studio was established to help educators design the courses they want for the digital era,” Dror Ben-Naim, founder and CEO of Smart Sparrow said in a press release. “In the past, technology has demanded that academics adhere to its limitations. Now, we’re reversing the trend by putting academics in control.”
Smart Sparrow has previously partnered with colleges and universities on classes like “BioBeyond,” an exploration-based introductory science course for non-science majors. With the new studio offering, Smart Sparrow provides a more direct pathway for faculty to design learning experiences for their students.
BETTER THAN FREE T-SHIRTS: This week Google announced that university students studying computer science will be able to access its cloud-based software tools for free. Faculty who teach CS in U.S. colleges and universities can apply for free credits for students to use the full suite of Google Cloud Platform tools, including Cloud Vision API and Cloud Machine Learning.
In a blog post the search engine giant cited existing university use cases of its cloud technology. A Duke University undergrad built Cloud4Cancer, an artificial neural network built on top of Google App Engine that distinguishes between health and unhealthy tissue. A CS professor at Carnegie Mellon University says using the platform is a way for his students to be competitive in the job market.
CS faculty can apply today for credits for their students to use in the 2016-2017 academic year.
ZOOMI has raised $2.5 million from an undisclosed group of investors, according to SEC forms filed by the company. The Malvern, PA-based startup makes adaptive workplace software that helps individualize corporate training through three products—Zoomi Learning Player, Zoomi Dashboard and Zoomi Engine. Technically Philly reports that Zoomi will use the funding to bolster its technical staff and its platform's capabilities. Zoomi incorporated in 2012.
GAMEFFECTIVE has raised $7 million from Jerusalem Venture Partners, which led the round, CE Ventures, Verint, 2B Angels, Shaked Ventures, Lipman and others. Claiming several Fortune 500 clients, the company, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, works with companies to gamify employees' sales and e-learning tasks. Gameffective's platform also provides real-time feedback and performance analytics to employees and managers. It plans to use the funding to bolster its sales, marketing and R&D teams.