GONE IN A FLASH: Luvo, the company formerly known as Flashnotes, has gone eerily quiet, notes EDUKWEST’s Kirsten Winkler. Cengage Learning’s Chief Product Officer, Jim Donohue, who led the publisher’s investment in the startup, confirmed to EdSurge that it has officially wound down.
Founded in 2009, Luvo offered an online marketplace where college students could buy and sell notes and materials for courses specific to their campuses. (The company keeps 30 percent of sales.) It had raised more than $14 million from investors including Atlas Ventures, Barnes & Noble, Cengage and individuals Deborah Quazzo (of GSV Advisors) and Jordan Levy (from Softbank Capital).
“It was a great idea, but the amount of work involved in finding students on each campus to share these notes was difficult,” says Donohue. “The acquisition cost of getting these writers was very high.” Luvo attempted to switch to a new model by which students could buy and sell notes for popular general education courses (such as Econ 101) offered across many different schools, but the move has not panned out.
Flashnote’s early traction had raised questions over copyright, intellectual property, and whether students truly “owned” their notes. But the controversy didn’t stop Flashnotes from acquiring competitors NoteUtopia and Moolaguides in its attempt to own the market. Chegg, which has pivoted away from the textbook rental business to provide a wide range of digital student services, also went on a similar acquisition spree with its purchase of Cramster and Notehall.