Course Hero buys Symbolab in a rare edtech acquisition

Months after its $ 80 million Series B fundraise, Course Hero has acquired Symbolab, an artificial intelligence-powered calculator that helps students answer and understand complex math questions.

The price of the deal was undisclosed. The nine-person Symbolab team, based in Tel Aviv, will join Course Hero . The platforms will live under independent branding for the near future, according to Andrew Grauer, CEO of Course Hero.

Founded in 2011, Symbolab is an advanced calculator and question solver that is on track to answer 1 billion questions this year, Grauer says. The service has a deep focus on college-level math, and solves complex geometry problems with explanations and proofs.

Course Hero is a question and answer platform at its core. The addition of a calculator and company that holds a data set on the most asked mathematics questions could give Course Hero a bigger edge on its math services, which the company says is one of its most popular subjects among its current students. The service will be offered to Course Hero subscribers as a deal-sweetener.

The model of using a computational engine to give solutions to stuck students is fairly common. In a remote schooling world, flexibility is key for students who might be lost in their classes. While teachers and tutors might only be available for a certain amount of hours, a technology service powered by AI could prove to be a 24/7 solution that students can rely on — and pay for.

Symbolab feels similar to Wolfram Alpha, a popular computational engine. While Grauer says that Wolfram Alpha is a “powerful tool,” he thinks that Symbolab does a better job on depth and explanations. Big companies have added similar services too, such as Google, which acquired homework helper app Socratic in 2019, and Microsoft, which built Microsoft Solver in the same year.

Grauer had to decide between building or buying. The founder ultimately decided to acquire the technology because the true success of artificial intelligence only comes if a platform is able to compound data over time. Symbolab was founded nearly a decade ago, and back-end information is valuable. Grauer says he’s excited to approach the solver problem differently than Google and Microsoft.

“You can’t just [do this] in a short amount of time,” he said. “You’re looking for how do we get the right, accurate answer. But then, how am I going to get, not just accurate, but step by step solutions that are actually helpful.”

Consolidation remains rare in the sector that has historically been underfunded. Edtech acquisitions have been growing steadily but slowly. In 2018, edtech had less than 40 acquisitions. In that same year, fintech had 193 acquisitions, according to Crunchbase.

Still, amid edtech’s larger boom, this acquisition makes a good amount of sense. Course Hero recently raised its biggest tranche of money yet, passed $ 100 million in annual run revenue and became profitable. Thus, the company likely had money in the bank to afford the deal. In 2012, Course Hero bought Cardinal Scholars from the founders of InstaEdu.

Grauer says that he expects Course Hero to make more acquisitions across a variety of subject areas in the future. In edtech more broadly, he thinks that the next five to 10 years will have more acquisitions.

“If you look back 15 years, there just weren’t that many education technology businesses,” Grauer said. “Now, I think there’s enough of them that potentially have this scale, and both have metrics on the distribution side technology and built out product market fit during the expansion phase.”

Editor’s note: This article stated that Course Hero bought InstaEdu in 2012. This is inaccurate. The company bought Cardinal Scholars, from the founders of InstaEdu. An update has been made to reflect this correction.

Startups – TechCrunch

American Stripe buys Nigerian Paystack for $200mln+ – Ecofin Agency: Economic information from Africa

American Stripe buys Nigerian Paystack for $ 200mln+  Ecofin Agency: Economic information from Africa
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Equity Monday: Twilio buys Segment, and Airkit raises $28M for its low-code platform

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode.

So, what was on our minds this morning?
  • Headlines: The Twilio-Segment deal is real, happening, and is priced about where we expected. Big names in the ex-China Internet want to make encryption worse. And, how the United States government would break up Google is becoming clearer by the week.
  • On the Twilio Segment deal, as TechCrunch and Forbes anticipated, the transaction came in around $ 3.2 billion, forming something of a API monster from their combined form. As we noted on the show, a lot of investors made a mint from the transaction.
  • Airkit has raised $ 28 million while in stealth since 2017. What does it do? Per Forbes, it’s a “low-code platform” that wants to “improve customer engagement.” That’s notably similar to what Segment does.
  • Flash Express raised $ 200 million, as the on-demand and delivery spaces stay hot.
  • And Razorpay raised $ 100 million at a valuation of $ 1 billion, meaning that we have just witnessed the birth of yet another fintech unicorn.
  • And, finally, warm public markets mean that the startup and VC game will stay afoot, even if we see a pre-election dip in IPOs.

We hope that you are well and warm and fully of good spirits. Back soon!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PT and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

Startups – TechCrunch

[CropX in Globes] Soil analysis data co CropX buys New Zealand co Regen

Israeli soil analysis data company CropX today announced the acquisition of New Zealand-based Regen, which provides cloud-based, precision effluent and irrigation decision support tools. Regen’s customers now have access to CropX’s combination of in-soil data and advanced farm management analytics and automation tools. No financial details were disclosed.

Read more here.

The post [CropX in Globes] Soil analysis data co CropX buys New Zealand co Regen appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

The Exchange: Remote dealmaking, rapid-fire IPOs, and how much $250M buys you

Welcome to The Exchange, an upcoming weekly newsletter featuring TechCrunch and Extra Crunch reporting on startups, money, and markets. You can sign up for it here to receive it regularly when it launches on July 25th. You can email me about it here, or talk to me about it on Twitter. Let’s go!

Ahead of parsing Q2 venture capital data, we got a look this week into the VC world’s take on making deals over Zoom. A few months ago it was an open question whether VCs would simply stop making new investments if they couldn’t chop it up in person with founders. That, it turns out, was mostly wrong.

This week we learned that most VCs are open to making remote deals happen, even if 40% of VCs have actually done so. This raises a worrying question: If only 40% of VCs have actually made a fully remote deal, how many deals happened in Q2?

Judging from my inbox over the past few months, it’s been an active period. But we can’t lean on anecdata for this topic; The Exchange will parse Q2 VC data next week, hopefully, provided that we can scrape together the data points we need to feel confident in our take. More soon.

Private markets

As TechCrunch reported Friday, some startups are delaying raising capital for a few quarters. They can do this by limiting expenses. The question for startups that are doing this is what shape they’ll be in when they do surface to hunt for fresh funds; can they still grow at an attractive pace while trying to extend their runway through burn conservation?

But there’s another option besides waiting to raise a new round, and not raising at all. Startups can raise an extension to their preceding deal! Perhaps I am noticing something that isn’t a trend, or not a trend yet, but there have been a number of startups recently raised extensions lately that caught my eye. For example, this week MariaDB raised a $ 25 million Series C extension, for example. Also this week Sayari put together $ 2.5 million in a Series B extension. And CALA put together $ 3 million in a Seed extension. Finally, across the pond Machine Labs put together one million pounds in another Seed extension this week.

I don’t know yet how to numerically drill into the available venture data to tell if we’re really seeing an extension wave, but do let me know if you have any notes to share. And, to be completely clear, the above rounds could easily be merely random and un-thematic, so please don’t read into them more deeply than that they were announced in the last few days and match something that we’re watching.

Public markets

On the public markets front, the news is all good. Tech stocks are up in general, and software stocks set some new record highs this week. It’s nearly impossible to recall how scary the world was back in March and April in today’s halcyon stock market run, but it was only a few months back that stocks were falling sharply.

The return-to-form has helped a number of companies go public this year like Vroom, Accolade, Agora, and others. This week was another busy period for startups, former startups, and other companies looking to go out.

In quick fashion to save time, this week we got to see GoHealth’s first IPO range, nCino’s second (more on the two companies’ finances here), learned that Palantir is going public (it’s financial history as best we can tell is here), and even got an IPO filing (S-1) from Rackspace, as it looks towards the public markets yet again.

The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. You can read it every morning on Extra Crunch, and now you can receive it in your inbox. Sign up for The Exchange newsletter, which drops every Friday starting July 25.

The IPO waters are so warm that Lemonade is still up more than 100% from its IPO price. So long as growth companies that are miles from making money can command rich valuations, expect companies to keep running through the public market’s door.

There’s fun stuff on the horizon. Coinbase might file later this year, or in early 2021. And the Airbnb IPO is probably coming within four or five quarters. Gear up to read some SEC filings.

Funding rounds worth noting

The coolest funding round of the week was obviously the one that I wrote about, namely the $ 2.2 million that MonkeyLearn put together from a pair of lead investors. But other companies raised money, and among them the following investments stood out:

  • Sony poured a quarter of a billion dollars into the maker of Fortnite, for a 1.4% stake. This rounds stands out for how small a piece of Epic Games that Sony got its hands on. It feels reminiscent of the recent investment deluge into Jio.
  • TruePill raised $ 25 million in a Series B. In the modern world it seems batty to me that I have to get off my ass, go to Walgreens or CVS, wait in line, and then ask someone to please sell me Claritin D. What an enormous waste of time. TruePill, which does pharma delivery, can’t get here fast enough. Also, investors in TruePill are probably fully aware that Amazon spent $ 1 billion on PillPack just a few year ago.
  • From the slightly off-the-wall category, this headline from TechCrunch: UK’s Farewill raises $ 25M for its new-approach online will writing, funerals and other death services.” Farewill is a startup name that is so bad it probably works; I won’t forget it any time soon, even though I don’t live in the U.K.! And this deal goes to show how big the internet really is. There’s so much demand for digital services that a company with Farewill’s particular focus can put together enough revenue growth to command a $ 25 million Series B.
  • Finally, TechCrunch’s Ron Miller covered a $ 50 million investment into OwnBackup. What matters about this deal was how Ron spoke about it: “OwnBackup has made a name for itself primarily as a backup and disaster-recovery system for the Salesforce ecosystem, and today the company announced a $ 50 million investment.” What to take from that? That Salesforce’s ecosystem is maybe bigger than we thought.

That’s The Exchange for the week. Keep your eye on SaaS valuations, the latest S-1 filings, and the latest fundings. Chat Monday.

Startups – TechCrunch

[VayaVision in Globes] LeddarTech buys Israeli car sensor co VayaVision

VayaVision applies AI and computer vision algorithms to raw data fused from radar, lidar and camera to build an accurate 3D environmental model.

Read more here.

The post [VayaVision in Globes] LeddarTech buys Israeli car sensor co VayaVision appeared first on OurCrowd.


Decrypted: No warrants for web data, UK grid cyberattack, CyberArk buys Idaptive

One vote.

That’s all it needed for a bipartisan Senate amendment to pass that would have stopped federal authorities from further accessing millions of Americans’ browsing records. But it didn’t. One Republican was in quarantine, another was AWOL. Two Democratic senators — including former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders — were nowhere to be seen and neither returned a request for comment.

It was one of several amendments offered up in the effort to reform and reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the basis of U.S. spying laws. The law, signed in 1978, put restrictions on who intelligence agencies could target with their vast listening and collection stations. But after the Edward Snowden revelations in 2013, lawmakers champed at the bit to change the system to better protect Americans, who are largely protected from the spies within its borders.

One privacy-focused amendment, brought by Sens. Mike Lee and Patrick Leahy, passed — permits for more independent oversight to the secretive and typically one-sided Washington, D.C. court that authorizes government surveillance programs, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. That amendment all but guarantees the bill will bounce back to the House for further scrutiny.

Here’s more from the week.


Three years after WannaCry, U.S. still on North Korea’s tail

A feature-length profile in Wired magazine looks at the life of Marcus Hutchins, one of the heroes who helped stop the world’s biggest cyberattack three years to the day.

The profile — a 14,000-word cover story — examines his part in halting the spread of the global WannaCry ransomware attack and how his early days led him into a criminal world that prompted him to plead guilty to felony hacking charges. Thanks in part to his efforts in saving the internet, he was sentenced to time served and walked free.

Startups – TechCrunch