By guest blogger Kevin Connors
Edmodo, which began as a free social networking site for educators across the United States, has been expanding into new product lines and new countries for years. Now, the social learning platform-meets-learning management system has raised $30 million more to invest in those growth plans.
The San Mateo, Calif.-based ed-tech company was founded in 2008 and has experienced a kind of viral growth since its inception. Today, more than 36 million teachers and students in about 220,000 schools use Edmodo.
The recent $30 million was raised during a Series D round led by international venture capital firm Index Ventures. KDDI, a Japanese telecom company, also invested. To date, Edmodo has now raised $87 million from eight investors in its four funding rounds, according to CrunchBase.
At its core, Edmodo is a free website where teachers and students can share resources and collaborate on assignments. The “freemium” model appealed to lead investor Index Ventures.
“It isn’t ‘sold’ to schools, but adopted organically by teachers,” writes Mike Volpi, a partner at Index Ventures, in a blog posted on his company’s website.
But beyond the basic networking aspect of the site, investors see other ed-tech tools that intrigue them. Edmodo’s Marketplace, for instance, allows 3rd parties to offer over 600 educational apps to teachers and students. Edmodo’s recently developed Snapshot tool also allows teachers to create quizzes and receive instant feedback. The company has additionally ventured into professional development and holds an annual online user conference, EdmodoCon, which drew 42,000 attendees this year.
Edmodo’s hardly the only player in the ed-tech space to benefit from investors’ largesse. In the 1st quarter of 2014, for instance, a record $500 million of venture capital was poured in ed-tech statups, by one estimate.
Like other major companies operating in the digital education sphere, Edmodo’s policies for protecting student data have attracted recent scrutiny. See my colleague Benjamin Herold’s story examining the company’s, and ed-tech operators’, efforts to safeaguard private information.
Volpi argues that Edmodo’s ability to adapt to changing technologies and the demands of teachers, and the company’s reach across the global marketplace, make it a business that will stand out against the competitors—and a worthwhile investment.
For more news on mergers, acquisitions, and venture capital in education, follow Marketplace K-12’s “K-12 Dealmaking” series.