With $30M Series B, Clever Says ‘We’re Here to Stay’

With $30M Series B, Clever Says ‘We’re Here to Stay’

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Happy Festivus to Clever. The San Francisco startup just closed a $30 million Series B round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and joined by GSV Capital, Peter Thiel and existing investor Sequoia Capital. With a $10.3 million Series A round in December 2013 and earlier seed funding, Clever has now raised over $43 million.

It’s a big gift to wrap up a big year for the company, which now boasts users in 30,000 U.S. schools. Clever’s CEO and co-founder, Tyler Bosmeny boasts, "We didn’t have to raise this round--we had almost all of our Series A in the bank when Lightspeed approached us.”

So why would he raise more money and, presumably, give up more of his company? As Bosmeny explains it: “We wanted schools to know that Clever isn’t going anywhere.”

“When we talk to schools, a big challenge for them is that they want to rely on edtech products coming out of Silicon Valley, but there are really high costs when [the products] go away,” he said. “We want schools to know they can count on Clever forever.”

Founded in 2012, Clever offers a simple solution to a problem that many schools and developers face. It first created an API that allows developers to pull roster data from student information systems and make it easy for schools to create and manage student accounts. In August 2014, the company created a single sign-on tool, “Instant Login” that lets teachers and students access tools from any of Clever’s 150 developer partners with a single login.

With one in five US schools using Clever to submit rosters and create accounts with companies, Bosmeny sees the company as “becoming an industry standard, and an integral part of how schools are using technology.”

But this great power in the industry comes with great responsibility. And the convenience with which student roster data can pass between schools and third-party developers leaves some privacy advocates, including frequent privacy policy commenter Bill Fitzgerald, concerned about funneling users between applications that may have different privacy policies.

Pointing to Clever’s security policy, Bosmeny sees a potential for the company to “take a leadership role in solving the issues around student data privacy.” According to its security whitepaper (PDF), “Once a school or district begins using Clever, student data will not be available to any vendor until the school has, for each vendor, explicitly granted access in writing.”

Beyond securing the trust of districts, Bosmeny plans to double the size of Clever’s staff in the next year. Not content with serving one in five schools, Bosmeny is reaching higher: “Our goal is that every school and every app developer that wants to uses Clever.”

Editor's Note: The description about Instant Login has been updated to reflect its functionality.

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