Google Capital forays into education with $40M investment in Renaissance Learning

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Feb 19, 2014 09:16 AM EST

Google Capital has just made its first investment in education with a $40 million investment in Renaissance Learning, TechCrunch reported.

The investment was made at a $1 billion valuation for the cloud-based K-12 learning analytics firm. As part of the deal, a representative from the search giant's investment arm which focuses on late stage deals will be joining the Board of Directors of Renaissance Learning, the report said.

Wisconsin-based Renaissance Learning was first established in 1984 offering a software-based evaluation tool for teaching reading skills. Now, the company which is well known in the education space provides various learning and assessment tools for the desktop and the web. The thrust of the company is to give a data-driven approach to learning for both educators and students while at the same time empowering teachers to utilize the data to help their students.

Renaissance Learning Chief Executive Officer Jack Lynch told TechCrunch that they did not need Google Capital's investment for business purposes. Rather, he said that the investment "opens up a number of doors for the two companies to collaborate in the education space, and we think the potential for educators is huge."

Google has been keen quite keen in the education sphere. For starters, a lot of schools and colleges are now using Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks. The apps provide teachers with various resources, like lesson plans, but does not give evaluation tools, the report said.

Proceeds from the funding round will be used by Renaissance to continue developing its products. With Renaissance Learning's purchase of edtech startup Subtext last year, the TechCrunch report surmised that part of the funding could also be used for more acquisitions.

Data of over 38,000 schools and the reading records of nearly 11 million students in the US are hosted on the Renaissance Learning platform, the report said.

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