AltSchool’s Alt-Promise to Reinvent Education

PK-12 School Models

AltSchool’s Alt-Promise to Reinvent Education

Nov 1, 2017

HOODWINKED? AltSchool has hit peak “micro-school.” And now it’s scaling back. A scathing Bloomberg report, based on an email sent to parents by AltSchool CEO Max Ventilla, revealed that the company is no longer opening elementary micro-schools—and will be closing “at least one location.” The only existing brick-and-mortar programs will be near its offices in San Francisco and New York.

AltSchools burns about $40 million every year, and the company is struggling to break even.

The company’s positive spin, according to Bloomberg reporter Adam Satariano, “has always been to spend a lot of money and take on losses in order to build technology that can be sold for a handsome profit later.” Ventilla, a former Googler, told Bloomberg that AltSchool will be selling its “personalized” technology to schools at a cost of $150 to $500 per student per year.

In an interview with EdSurge shortly after raising $40 million this past May, Ventilla told EdSurge that “our plan was to always start with running our own schools and then use them to build a platform that could be spread across more schools.” Earlier, Daniel Barber, the company’s Head of Educator Experience, admitted that implementation of its digital learning platform has been “painfully slow.”

The San Francisco-based company has raised $173 million from a gaggle of celebrity education venture capitalists, including Emerson Collective, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Learn Capital and Omidyar Network. Other high-profile backers include John Doerr, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

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