SoftBank leads a $105M investment in Class, an EdTech startup that enhances virtual and hybrid classrooms by adding teaching and learning tools to Zoom
Last year in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of students around the world were forced to attend classes online and continue their schooling remotely from home. With no standard video conferencing tool for students, some schools used Google classroom while others went with the popular video conferencing tool Zoom.
Google was also generous in making its Google Classroom available for free to schools, non-profits, and anyone with a personal Google account. Google Classroom makes it easy for learners and instructors to connect—inside and outside of schools. Google Classroom saves time and paper and makes it easy to create classes, distribute assignments, communicate, and stay organized.
However, the Classroom isn’t perfect. The same can be said of Zoom, which was never created to be a consumer product or video conferencing tool for students. Seeing this as a problem that needed to be solved, Zoom’s earliest investors decided to create a better Zoom experience for students and teachers.
In September, they decided to launch a new EdTech startup. We wrote about Class after Michael Chasen, a co-founder and former CEO of Blackboard Inc., joined forces with prominent Zoom board members and investors to launch a new tech startup called ClassEDU.
Fast forward almost a year later, ClassEdu (now known as Class Technologies) announced today it has raised a $105 million Series B funding round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, with participation from GSV Ventures, Emergence Capital, Maven Partners, Owl Ventures, Insight Partners, Super Bowl champion and entrepreneur Tom Brady, other prominent investors. Class will use the new capital infusion to accelerate the company’s growth and expand globally into new markets and brings total funding to over $160 million in under a year.
Founded in 2020, Class for Zoom founders include Jim Scheinman, Santi Subotovsky, Bill Tai, other education leaders including Deborah Quazzo, Lev Gonick, and Steve Case, the co-founder of America Online (AOL), and Chairman and CEO of Revolution. Jim Scheinman is the Founding Managing Partner at Maven Ventures, and an early investor in Zoom, and the person who is credited with naming Zoom.
“Class has a bold vision for changing the way the world learns, and we have experienced increased demand for Class not just in the United States, but around the world,” said Michael Chasen, education software pioneer, and Class co-founder and CEO. “This investment will be used to rapidly deploy Class domestically and globally. Reaching places where the need for online learning and corporate training is urgent and often touches places and populations that are the most underserved, difficult to reach, and are at different stages of mitigating the pandemic.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve witnessed a dramatic acceleration in the adoption of digital services in education and training. We believe Class is using innovative tools to enhance the virtual and hybrid classroom experience by engaging learners more effectively,” said Kristin Bannon, Investment Director, SoftBank Investment Advisers. “We’re excited to partner with Michael and the Class team to support their ambition of enhancing virtual and hybrid learning around the world.”
In conjunction with the funding, Kristin Bannon, Investment Director, SoftBank Investment Advisers will join the Class board of directors.
“Over the past year, students and instructors around the world have been using Zoom to power remote and hybrid classes,” said Audrey Witters, Managing Director, Online & Entrepreneurship Programs at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Class strategic advisory board member. “Class offers features designed to make virtual classrooms around the world feel more like real classrooms.”
Class is built on the Zoom Meetings platform and provides everything needed to facilitate instruction and improve learner engagement in virtual and hybrid classroom settings. The software adds teaching and learning tools to Zoom that enable instructors to perform many of the activities that happen in a real classroom. Class helps instructors at educational institutions and corporations take attendance, hand out assignments, give a quiz or test, grade work, proctor exams, talk one-on-one with a learner, and more. Since launching less than a year ago, Class is already deployed in the United States and in over 20 countries worldwide.
The latest fundraising comes just one month after full general availability was announced across Windows, Mac, Chromebook, iPad and Android tablets.