Media & Entertainment

ClassDojo, an app to help teachers and parents communicate better, raises $35M

Comment

Messaging apps have become the de facto way that many people today keep in regular contact with each other, and that trend has also found its way into the classroom. ClassDojo, a startup that has built a platform for teachers and parents to communicate small and big updates to each other, today is announcing that it has raised $35 million in funding.

The Series C — which is being jointly led by GSV (behind Spotify, Lyft, Dropbox) and SignalFire (which has backed Grammarly, Zume, Lime), and also includes General Catalyst and Uncork Capital — will be used in two ways. First, to fuel expansion of ClassDojo’s free communications app. And second, to drive its efforts to monetize its service by way of a new service called Beyond School, an optional subscription for families to complement in-school work with at-home tutorials around areas that are complementary to learning well, such as improving studying habits, mindfulness and so on.

(You could think of Beyond School as TedX meets Lynda for K-8, but co-founders Sam Chaudhary and Liam Don, respectively the CEO and CTO, said in an interview that they believe the content will be more than just that.)

ClassDojo has now raised $65 million, and while it is not talking valuation, I’ve been told by a good source that it is coming in at “$400ish” million. That is a huge leap on the $99 million the startup was valued at in 2015 (a figure quoted on PitchBook).

The boost in part is because of ClassDojo’s healthy growth. Since first starting out in 2011 as part of a Y Combinator cohort, the company has expanded to be used in more than 95 percent of all pre K to eighth grade schools in the US, with one in every six families with a child in primary school using the app daily.

The US is its biggest market, but ClassDojo is also now available in some 180 other countries, where it’s also starting to pick up some strong penetration. (In Singapore, Australia, Spain, Hong Kong, the UK, and the UAE, it’s used by some 25 percent of all primary school teachers, for example.) Impressively, all that growth has up to now been organic and word of mouth, one reason why the company has had to raise relatively little funding.

(It also only employs 40 people, another way of keeping costs massively down.)

One of the key things about ClassDojo is that the company has kept a very consistent focus when it comes to its mission: the idea has always been to try to identify the biggest communication problems that teachers might have in teaching kids, and trying to solve them.

Building an app that can bridge the sometimes large gaps between parent-teacher meetings, so that parents feel more engaged with what their children are learning, and teachers might have better feedback from those parents about what children are doing at home, was an obvious first step.

“Learning is so much about having strong relationships,” Chaudhary said. “It’s pretty cool to see the effect this can have not just with parents and teachers, but between parents and kids.”

Beyond School comes in the same vein and is a natural extension of that, and came not just out of what teachers said they wished they had more time to teach to students — but can’t because of the general emphasis in curriculums on academics — but from what parents wished they could work on with their children.

That, in essence, is the wider body of “learning” that you could loosely term emotional intelligence, and general techniques for coping and learning, beyond the academic work itself. “The learning experience in the classroom sparked a lot of ideas, and families were reaching out to us,” Dom said, “wondering if they could have a product to serve more unique needs at home.”

So far, the company does not have any numbers to share on how Beyond School has been taken up since launching at the end of 2018, except to say that it’s going well.

Longer term, it’s interesting to consider how ClassDojo fits into the wider trend of communication and messaging apps, and whether others might ever try to compete in the same space, or perhaps acquire ClassDojo as they extend into other verticals — a strategy that Microsoft, for example, has been following when it comes to acquiring other businesses as it works on tapping the $10 trillion market for education.

I asked Hemant Taneja, a partner at General Catalyst, if he ever thought the likes of Slack, for example, might ever try to compete with it. (No, is the short answer.)

“Slack is a work tool, and I can’t imagine there will be a synergy there,” he said, and nor would it possibly even work. “As a worker and parent, I think that there should be an education platform solely devoted to kids, where the stakeholders are family and teachers. I’ve always believed that from the beginning and I think that ClassDojo’s scale gives it that potential.”

 

More TechCrunch

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo