Learnist Bags $20M from Discovery and others

By Betsy Corcoran     Dec 18, 2012

Learnist Bags $20M from Discovery and others

Grockit is about to get big--and it will have nothing to dowith prepping for tests.

Today San Francisco-based Grockit is announcing a whopping $20 millioninvestment led by DiscoveryCommunications, and supported by its existing investors and adding Summit Group. The funding isaimed at bolstering Grockit's work on Learnist, the Pinterest-likelearning site that the company debuted in May.

Inaddition to the funding, Discovery and Grockit have agreed to support eachother's content -- and distribution.

Theshift marks a key evolutionary point for Grockit, which got its start in 2007as a test-prep organization, founded by Farbood Nivi, a former Teacher of theYear for The Princeton Review and academic director at Kaplan.

Grockithas long supported the idea that learning is adaptive and "social":in addition to using algorithms to help identify areas where students areweaker, Grockit developed technology to help students study with their friends.Like most test-prep companies, it charges students to subscribe to itstest-prep services. SAT prep services, for instance are available at $29/month;it also advertises that for every paying student, Grockit will provide itsservice for free to one "under resourced" student.

Evenso the "bigger" vision that Nivi and his team--including Roy Gilbert,who took over the CEO job in September 2010--was to support learning morebroadly: to help people share education resources with anyone on virtually anyfamily-friendly subject.  

Tothat end, the company created its Pinterest-like site, Learnist. The site,which can be reached via a link on the Grockit homepage, is still in beta butfreely available to everyone who registers. "Learnist is a fullerexpression of what we want to do," Gilbert told EdSurge. 

 Educatorshave turned out to be an enthusiastic group of Pinterest users. (There is, ofcourse, even an aggregator, Pinterest forTeachers, with close to 5,000 followers). Learnist encourages users tocollect "boards" on a wide range of topics. The boards arecollections of digital materials--slides, videos, links, comments and so on andcan be sequenced into "learning paths." Grockit execs say that the the time on the site has doubled from 10-minutes per session to more than 20 minutes and that the number of users is in the "hundreds-of-thousands of users." That said, a quick glance at Learnist suggests that many of the most popular boards are those created by Grockit members or educators who work closely with Grockit.

Byteaming up with Discovery, Grockit will have access to a wide collection ofdigital media, much of which isn't found on YouTube or Vimeo. Discovery has a division exclusivelydevoted to education, that includes professional development materials andother resources, along with rich content created by brands such as AnimalPlanet, Discovery World, History and so on. (All told, Discovery Communicationsboasts that it's the world's largest nonfiction media company, with 1.7 billioncumulative subscribers.)

Plans to monetize Learnist are in the offing, too: Overtime, Gilbert says, the site will offer premium access to some content. Muchlike other user-driven sites such as Udemy, Grockit will also let experts sell theirpremium services via its site.

For now, however, Gilbert says that the newinvestment, which included support from Grockit's existing investors, Atlas Venture, BenchmarkCapital, Integral Capital Partners and GSV Capital Corp., will let the companyfocus on content creation over the course of the next year. A fresh userinterface and other technology support is the works too, although Grockitdeclined to say when Learnist would no longer be a "beta" site. Hehinted, however, that Grockit is also in the process of forging partnershipswith other significant content vendors.

And our prediction for 2013? We're betting that the companywill eventually change its name to reflect its passion for learning.

Learnist Bags $20M from Discovery and others

By Betsy Corcoran     Dec 18, 2012

Learnist Bags $20M from Discovery and others

Grockit is about to get big--and it will have nothing to dowith prepping for tests.

Today San Francisco-based Grockit is announcing a whopping $20 millioninvestment led by DiscoveryCommunications, and supported by its existing investors and adding Summit Group. The funding isaimed at bolstering Grockit's work on Learnist, the Pinterest-likelearning site that the company debuted in May.

Inaddition to the funding, Discovery and Grockit have agreed to support eachother's content -- and distribution.

Theshift marks a key evolutionary point for Grockit, which got its start in 2007as a test-prep organization, founded by Farbood Nivi, a former Teacher of theYear for The Princeton Review and academic director at Kaplan.

Grockithas long supported the idea that learning is adaptive and "social":in addition to using algorithms to help identify areas where students areweaker, Grockit developed technology to help students study with their friends.Like most test-prep companies, it charges students to subscribe to itstest-prep services. SAT prep services, for instance are available at $29/month;it also advertises that for every paying student, Grockit will provide itsservice for free to one "under resourced" student.

Evenso the "bigger" vision that Nivi and his team--including Roy Gilbert,who took over the CEO job in September 2010--was to support learning morebroadly: to help people share education resources with anyone on virtually anyfamily-friendly subject.  

Tothat end, the company created its Pinterest-like site, Learnist. The site,which can be reached via a link on the Grockit homepage, is still in beta butfreely available to everyone who registers. "Learnist is a fullerexpression of what we want to do," Gilbert told EdSurge. 

 Educatorshave turned out to be an enthusiastic group of Pinterest users. (There is, ofcourse, even an aggregator, Pinterest forTeachers, with close to 5,000 followers). Learnist encourages users tocollect "boards" on a wide range of topics. The boards arecollections of digital materials--slides, videos, links, comments and so on andcan be sequenced into "learning paths." Grockit execs say that the the time on the site has doubled from 10-minutes per session to more than 20 minutes and that the number of users is in the "hundreds-of-thousands of users." That said, a quick glance at Learnist suggests that many of the most popular boards are those created by Grockit members or educators who work closely with Grockit.

Byteaming up with Discovery, Grockit will have access to a wide collection ofdigital media, much of which isn't found on YouTube or Vimeo. Discovery has a division exclusivelydevoted to education, that includes professional development materials andother resources, along with rich content created by brands such as AnimalPlanet, Discovery World, History and so on. (All told, Discovery Communicationsboasts that it's the world's largest nonfiction media company, with 1.7 billioncumulative subscribers.)

Plans to monetize Learnist are in the offing, too: Overtime, Gilbert says, the site will offer premium access to some content. Muchlike other user-driven sites such as Udemy, Grockit will also let experts sell theirpremium services via its site.

For now, however, Gilbert says that the newinvestment, which included support from Grockit's existing investors, Atlas Venture, BenchmarkCapital, Integral Capital Partners and GSV Capital Corp., will let the companyfocus on content creation over the course of the next year. A fresh userinterface and other technology support is the works too, although Grockitdeclined to say when Learnist would no longer be a "beta" site. Hehinted, however, that Grockit is also in the process of forging partnershipswith other significant content vendors.

And our prediction for 2013? We're betting that the companywill eventually change its name to reflect its passion for learning.

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