A modestly sized Seattle startup is being bought by an established education technology company that says it reaches nearly 3 million students worldwide.
Actively Learn, which has built a digital reading platform that emphasizes what it calls “reading for depth,” has been acquired by Achieve3000, a Lakewood, N.J.-based company that also provides a literacy platform for schools. Together, Achieve3000 says the products are complementary, with Actively Learn allowing Achieve3000 to expand its offerings into fiction and teacher-sourced content.
Terms of the acquisition, completed by Insight Venture Partners, were not disclosed.
Founded in 2012, Actively Learn is headquartered in the Impact Hub coworking space in Pioneer Square. It currently has 22 employees.
“We’re excited to join Achieve3000. It’s a great next step for delivering on our promise to bring meaningful thinking to classrooms,” said Jay Goyal, co-founder and CEO of Actively Learn in a statement. “With our complementary products, we will deliver best-in-class content, instruction, and technology to meet the evolving needs of students and teachers.”
Prior to founding Actively Learn with Dr. Deep Sran, Goyal had been part of Microsoft’s Bing team for nearly five years. An Achieve3000 spokesperson told GeekWire that Goyal will stay on as president of what will now be the Actively Learn subsidiary of Achieve3000, and all Actively Learn staff will be retained, with four or five positions to be added in the near future.
Actively Learn’s reading platform includes content for several subject areas, from English learning arts to social studies and science, plus news and articles. The texts are accompanied by tools to support student learning and questions to gauge understanding. It’s primarily aimed at middle- and high-school classrooms and is said to be used in more than 600 schools.
The 17-year-old Achieve3000 focuses on blended learning programs, in which online and face-to-face instruction are used together, for pre-Kindergarten through adult education. The company says the combination of the two platforms will give schools current trade fiction, nonfiction books, short stories, news articles, textbook passages and poetry, as well as providing embedded assessment and automatic re-leveling of text as students progress. It also will allow teachers to add their own content.
“Bringing Actively Learn under the Achieve3000 roof makes so much sense for delivering a complete literacy and critical thinking offering for middle- and high-school students,” said Stuart Udell, CEO of Achieve3000.
Actively Learn’s funding has included grants from the well-known Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and National Science Foundation. The Gates Foundation site lists a $270,000 grant in 2013, and NSF records show Actively Learn was awarded two seed grants totaling $900,000 in 2014 and 2015. Lighter Capital also provided funding in 2016.