K-12 Dealmaking: Knewton Raises $25 Million; Barnes & Noble Education Acquires PaperRater.com

Contributing Writer

In this week’s dealmaking news, adaptive learning products and technologies provider Knewton raised $25 million. Also, Barnes & Noble Education acquired PaterRater.com, a website that offers students a suite of writing services.

Knewton Raises $25 Million: Knewton, a provider of adaptive learning products and technologies, has closed its latest financing round, which includes up to $25 million in capital, according to a statement. Knewton plans to use the funding to scale Alta, the company’s adaptive learning courseware for higher education, which debuted in the U.S. market in January 2018.

The financing round is led by TriplePoint Capital with a debt facility of up to $20 million. Knewton’s existing investors—which include Accel, Atomico, Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, First Round Capital, Founders Fund and Sofina—invested an additional $5 million.  

“Knewton’s adaptive learning platform has long been the envy of the ed-tech industry. By putting it directly in the hands of students and instructors with Alta, we’ve figured out how we can make the biggest impact on improving student outcomes,” said Brian Kibby, CEO of Knewton. “With this investment, we will bring Alta to scale while developing new ways of using our technology to enable true data-driven teaching and learning throughout the course experience.”

Barnes & Noble Education Acquires PaperRater.com: Barnes & Noble Education, Inc., a provider of educational products and service solutions for higher education and K-12, has acquired PaperRater.com, a website that offers students a suite of writing services that includes a plagiarism checker, writing revision tools and an AI-based auto-grading scoring system to help them improve multiple facets of their writing, according to an announcement.

PaperRater’s operations will become part of the company’s Digital Student Solutions business segment. Barnes & Noble Education’s goal is to further strengthen its existing proprietary content database, as well as significantly increase monetization opportunities for the websites purchased in the Student Brands acquisition last August, the company noted.

“Proficiency in writing continues to be a struggle for millions of students in both high school and college, and is critical to success in the workplace upon graduation,” said Kanuj Malhotra, president of Digital Student Solutions for Barnes & Noble Education.

He continued: “Our goal is to provide services to students throughout the entire writing process. PaperRater allows us to accelerate our plans to provide a ‘triple play’ writing service that bundles plagiarism detection, writing revision and essay auto-scoring capabilities to our existing and prospective users as we build out our ecosystem of student services…Our acquisition strategy has demonstrated our ability to capture synergies and deliver growth, and we expect similar results with PaperRater.”

Codeverse Secures $10 Million: Codeverse, an interactive classroom and a platform designed to teach coding skills to children ages 6 to 12, has raised $10 million in a seed round to support additional market growth and investment in the KidScript coding platform, according to a statement.

The company also noted it is expanding its reach by bringing two new studios to the Chicago area in Wilmette and Naperville.

The new studios, opening later this year, will offer after-school and weekend classes as well as weeklong camps, bringing the brand’s technology to new audiences as the team works to accomplish their mission of teaching a billion kids to code.

Writable Raises $3.2 Million: Writable has raised $3.2 million in seed financing led by Omidyar Technology Ventures including strategic participation from learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, according to a statement.

The financing will be used to expand product development and help schools continue to assess, monitor, and grow their student outcomes in writing through Writable’s writing practice and feedback platform.

Writable is expanding its distribution through an integration with HMH that connects cross-curriculum writing practice to their best-in-class humanities instruction, enabling enhanced writing instruction and assessment in digital classrooms, the company noted.

Extending Writable’s platform to reach more classrooms is intended to “help teachers develop more successful writers,” says Andrew Goldman, CEO of Writable. “The relationship with HMH provides a much-needed intersection between best-in-class curriculum and innovative, yet practical tools that better connect students and teachers in learning,” he said in the statement.

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