New York, NY (October 13, 2011) – Today, educational technology innovator Knewton announces completion of a $33 million round of funding, led by Founders Fund and Pearson, the world’s leading learning company. Returning investors include Accel Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, and FirstMark Capital.
Knewton’s new financing will accelerate expansion of the company’s award-winning Adaptive Learning Platform™, which transforms third-party educational content by personalizing it to each individual student.
Knewton’s leading technology can dynamically remix any publisher’s or school’s educational materials to match each student’s strengths, weaknesses, and unique learning style. Optimizing the intersection between personal proficiencies and course requirements, the platform tailors material to each student’s concept-level needs in real time, delivering the most relevant content in the most effective medium. Ultimately, the Adaptive Learning Platform™ maximizes student learning and retention, supercharging homework so that teachers see better-prepared students in class.
“Knewton is poised to become a global lynchpin in online education and, more importantly, to improve education for everyone,” said Luke Nosek, Managing Partner of Founders Fund. “We couldn’t be more excited about our investment.”
In the past year, Knewton was selected as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Knewton also launched two first-year college math courses – College Mathematics and College Algebra – plus a self-paced Math Readiness course. To date, Knewton has partnered with some of the largest educational institutions in the United States, including Arizona State University (ASU), Penn State University (PSU), the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), Mount St. Mary’s University, and Washington State University (WSU).
With this new capital, Knewton will bring its product to grades K-12, and partner with leading education publishers, universities, and school districts. The company will continue to hire aggressively, doubling its current team of 70 employees over the next 18-24 months, with a focus on software engineers and data scientists. In addition, Knewton will launch its open platform, which will make its adaptive learning technology available to any third party.
“There’s a revolution brewing in education,” said Jose Ferreira, the company’s founder and CEO. “Between increased broadband and the rise of tablet computing, many more students are accessing their homework and even their classes online. In so doing they are producing unfathomable quantities of data. As the world leader in adaptive learning, Knewton can capture these data to give students a unique lifetime learning profile that dramatically improves their educational experience.”
“The demand for Knewton’s Adaptive Learning Platform™ is high as it has grown past proof-of-concept and is now on the cusp of being widely used,” said David Liu, Knewton COO. “Right now, at schools like ASU, thousands of students are enjoying courses powered by our platform that automatically skip boring concepts students have mastered, and instead provide perfectly targeted lessons that have been optimized for media format and engagement. Initial results have been overwhelmingly positive, with students reporting that they are engaged with learning from personalized content, rather than all being forced through the same material.”
Knewton has developed the world’s first Adaptive Learning Platform™, which customizes educational content to create a uniquely personalized learning experience for every student. Knewton’s patent-pending algorithms currently power its Math Readiness™ and test prep courses, and Knewton is continuing to partner with universities, publishers, and other educational organizations to make personalized learning available to everyone worldwide. Knewton was founded in 2008 by Jose Ferreira, a former executive at Kaplan, with Series A, B, and C funding from Accel Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, First Round Capital, First Mark Capital, and prominent angel investors.
About Founders Fund
Founders Fund provides capital to transformational businesses run by world-class entrepreneurs. Companies the firm has backed include Facebook (managing partner Peter Thiel was Facebook’s first outside backer), SpaceX, Palantir Technologies, ZocDoc, and Spotify. The firm, which pursues a founder-friendly investment strategy, is overseen by four managing partners, all of whom have founded companies worth more than $1 billion: Peter Thiel (PayPal); Ken Howery (PayPal); Luke Nosek (PayPal); and Sean Parker (Napster; Plaxo; Causes; founding president, Facebook).
Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, has global reach and market-leading businesses in education, business information and consumer publishing (NYSE: PSO). The company provides innovative print and digital education materials, including personalized learning programs such as MyLab and Mastering; educational services including custom publishing; and content-independent platforms including the EQUELLA digital repository and Pearson LearningStudio for online learning programs.