Series B Financing Fuels Market Expansion to Meet Growing Demand for Adaptive Learning PlatformTM and Online Test Prep Services
New York, N.Y., April 6, 2009 — Knewton (www.knewton.com), a leading online educational company, today announced it has closed a $6 million Series B round of funding. Bessemer Venture Partners is leading this round alongside returning investors Accel Partners, First Round Capital, and angel investors such as Peter Stern (Datek Co-Founder & CTO).
Knewton’s new financing will accelerate expansion to meet the surging enterprise demand for its adaptive learning engine and rapid consumer growth in its online test prep services. The new round will fund further development of Knewton’s open platform—designed to bring adaptive testing, adaptive learning, and concept-level reporting to any third-party educational content.
“Knewton is one of the most interesting, and potentially revolutionary, educational technologies we’ve encountered,” said Rob Stavis, a partner at Bessemer and a three-time member of the Forbes Midas List. “We are excited to help Knewton cement its position as the leader in adaptive learning and online test prep.”
Simon Levene from Accel Partners said: “Since we invested a year ago, Knewton’s growth and achievements have been remarkable. It’s a testament to the exceptional team, disruptive business model, and strong execution. Students and educators have already found great value in the service, and we’re pleased to help deliver it to an even wider audience.”
Knewton recently unveiled LSAT and GMAT preparation courses powered by the company’s proprietary adaptive learning engine. The algorithms behind Knewton’s platform identify the strengths and weaknesses of each student’s skills at the concept level, then dynamically customize content to match his or her precise knowledge gaps and learning style. Knewton’s direct-to-consumer test prep classes are taught by industry leading “Master Teachers” in an online video classroom and then archived for on-demand review. Live office hours provide students further time with instructors. Student score improvements to date have been so dramatic that Knewton offers a money-back guarantee of at least 50 points on the GMAT and at least 5 points on the LSAT.
“Educational content is just beginning a massive, one-time shift to digital distribution, just as news, music, and video have already experienced,” said Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton. “We think Knewton will emerge as the platform that powers this new era of online education; more importantly, customers and investors seem to think so as well.”
Education industry experts are closely following Knewton’s development. “Knewton’s adaptive learning engine is the most innovative educational technology I’ve ever seen,” said Greg Rorke, former CEO of Kaplan, Inc. “They are going to revolutionize not just the test prep industry, but possibly the entire practice of education.”
Knewton has developed the industry’s most powerful adaptive learning engine, customizing educational content to meet the individual needs of each student. Whereas textbooks and other traditional content vehicles provide the same material in the same order to every student, Knewton dynamically matches lessons, videos, and practice problems to each student’s ideal learning arc. Constant assessment across dimensions such as difficulty, frequency, and media maximizes learning efficiency and concept mastery. Knewton’s test prep courses for the GMAT, LSAT, SAT, and GRE bring the brightest and most experienced teachers directly to students worldwide via a live and on-demand online video classroom. The Knewton platform also powers third-party educational content from major publishers, corporations, and other organizations. Knewton was founded by Jose Ferreira, a former Kaplan executive, with Series A funding from Accel Partners and First Round Capital and angel investors including Ron Conway and Reid Hoffman. http://www.knewton.com
Bessemer Venture Partners is a global investment group with offices in Silicon Valley, Boston, New York, Bangalore, Mumbai, Beijing, and Tel Aviv. As the oldest venture capital practice in the United States, BVP has partnered as an active, hands-on investor in Ciena, Ingersoll Rand, Parametric, Skype, Staples, VeriSign, and W.R. Grace, among many others. More than 100 BVP-funded companies have gone public on exchanges in Canada, India, London, and the United States. http://www.bvp.com/
About Accel Partners
Founded in 1983, Accel Partners has a long history of excellence and innovation in the venture capital business and is dedicated to partnering with outstanding entrepreneurs and management teams to build world-class companies. Accel today invests globally using dedicated teams and market-specific strategies for local geographies, with offices in Palo Alto, California; London, UK; and Bangalore, India; as well as in China via the IDG-Accel Partnership. With over $6 billion under management, Accel has helped entrepreneurs build over 300 successful category-defining companies including: ComScore, Facebook, GlamMedia, Interwoven, Kayak, Macromedia, Polycom/PictureTel, Real Networks, UUNet, Walmart.com, and XenSource. http://www.accel.com
About First Round Capital
First Round Capital is a seed-stage venture capital firm dedicated to helping talented entrepreneurs build remarkable companies. First Round Capital typically funds pre-revenue companies—and often provides a company’s first outside capital. The firm has invested in over 75 early stage companies. http://www.firstround.com/