K-12 Dealmaking: Varsity Tutors Raises $50 Million; Turnitin Acquires VeriCite

Contributing Writer

Varsity Tutors, Niche, Kuali, and sofatutor recently announced that they had raised significant amounts of capital from investors. In addition, Turnitin, a provider of tools to prevent plagiarism, engage students in the writing process and facilitate feedback for the K-12 and higher education markets, has acquired VeriCite, a plagiarism detection tool.

Varsity Tutors Raises $50 Million: Live-tutoring platform Varsity Tutors has closed a $50 million Series C funding round, bringing its total funding to $107 million, according to an announcement from the St. Louis-based company. Learn Capital led the round, with participation from The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and existing investor TCV.

The funds will enable Varsity Tutors “to further its vision of seamlessly connecting experts and learners in any subject, anywhere, at any time,” the company said. In addition, Varsity noted that it plans to target new verticals outside of tutoring and new international markets, focus on new product innovation, including expansion of its Instant tutoring product.

“In my opinion, Varsity is one of the best-positioned companies on the planet to build a leadership franchise that quickly out-distances the crowd and transforms the possibility space of personalized instruction,” said Rob Hutter, managing partner at Learn Capital.

Added Vivian Wu, managing partner of ventures at The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative: “We are excited to invest in Varsity Tutors, given their leadership and success to date, and their continued innovation to offer quality learning experiences to more students across different geographies, backgrounds and learning needs. We look forward to working with them to make students’ learning even more effective and to increase access for more students.”

Last year, Varsity Tutors acquired U.K.-based First Tutors, marking Varsity’s first entrance into the international market.

Turnitin Acquires VeriCite: Turnitin, an Oakland, Calif.-based provider of tools that seek to prevent plagiarism, engage students in the writing process, and facilitate feedback for the K-12 and higher education markets, has acquired VeriCite, a cloud-based tool that identifies plagiarism, according to a blog posting from Turnitin CEO Chris Caren on the company’s website. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“VeriCite has established itself as a leader in providing originality checking tools that provide tight integrations into [learning management system (LMS)] workflows and a smooth customer experience,” Caren wrote. “I’m excited for our future product offerings to combine these strengths with the accuracy and scale of Turnitin’s plagiarism prevention services.”

Caren noted that VeriCite CEO Valerie Schreiner, who previously held senior-level positions at Elluminate, Blackboard, and Schoolzilla, will bring a wealth of ed-tech leadership to our organization. Ed-tech veteran Ray Henderson, who served as VeriCite’s board chairman, will become an advisor to Turnitin.

In a separate message on VeriCite’s website, Schreiner said: “Together, we will support academic integrity by combining the tight LMS integrations of VeriCite with the accuracy and scale of Turnitin’s plagiarism prevention services.”

sofatutor Raises $3.7 Million: sofatutor, a Berlin-based educational content platform, has raised $3.7 million in a funding round led by Frog Capital, with participation from existing investors Acton Capital, JCMB and others, according to press reports and a statement from Frog Capital.

The investment “will be used to bring more cuttin- edge technology to the primary and secondary school market and to accelerate customer acquisition,” according to the statement.

The sofatutor platform provides video lessons, interactive practice problems and worksheets for primary and secondary students. The company has users in Germany, Austria and Switzerland; according to the company’s website, the company’s latest project is its U.S. platform.

“We support many companies that are in a similar phase of scaling up and recognize that sofatutor is on the way to becoming Germany’s largest learning platform,” said Jens Düing, partner at Frog Capital. “We were impressed by its wide range of learning content through grades one to thirteen, as well as the effectiveness of sofatutor amongst its users. In the coming years we see great potential for mobile usage and further growth of the digital learning solutions.”

Niche Raises $6.6 Million: Niche, a platform for helping people choose schools and neighborhoods, has raised a $6.6 million Series B round led by Allen & Company LLC and Grit Capital Partners.

With this financing, Niche said it will build on its market share and expand its recruiting platform for K-12 schools and colleges.

Niche combines authentic insights with analysis of data to help users find the right places for them. More than 50 million users annually visit Niche for its rankings, report cards, profiles, and 120 million ratings and reviews. Niche has extensive coverage on 7,000 colleges, 130,000 K-12 schools, and 98,000 places to live across the country.

Kuali Raises $10 Million: Kuali, a provider of administrative software for high education institutions, has closed $10 million in funding from Owl Ventures, according to a statement.

Owl Ventures noted in the statement that it’s investing in Kuali to “expedite product development (including the student information system and research suites), and expand sales and marketing efforts. “

Michaelson 20MM Invites Nine Startups to Join Accelerator: The Michelson 20MM Foundation has invited nine ed-tech startups to join the second cohort of its ed-tech accelerator, Michelson Runway, according to a statement.

The selected companies will receive equity investments and support through a four–month hybrid, virtual accelerator program designed to promote technological innovations in postsecondary education (including higher education, workforce development, and/or lifelong learning), the foundation said in the statement. Cohort 2 participants include: APL nextED, Gooroo, MeasureOne, NameCoach, NexusEdge, Osmosis, Qualified.io, The Whether by Better Weekdays, and Year On.

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