Google Capital, the late-stage investment arm of our recently minted Most Innovative Company in the world, officially got to work today. Its new growth-equity fund is investing $40 million in Renaissance Learning, a cloud-based education platform for children K-12. The investment quietly gives the ed-tech company an overall valuation of $1 billion.
Google's interest in education is hardly new. Renaissance Learning has been around since 1984, and arms teachers with all kinds of tools to make learning easier for students, offering quizzes, learning plans, e-books, and software. "Renaissance Learning is at the forefront of this educational movement," Gene Frantz, formerly of TPG Capital and an executive at Google Capital, said in a statement, "and their ability to use data to support effective teaching and drive student growth is unparalleled."
Data being the operative word. The company uses millions of quizzes and assessments to tailor lesson plans. Google knows education technology is booming—Renaissance Learning recorded a 20% gain in revenue last year, and has been acquiring companies like Subtext, an e-reader platform for the classroom, on its own. (Google's cash infusion seems to indicate the acquisition spree will continue.) Indeed, investing in a three-decade-old learning company is just the latest indicator of Google's expanding education purview.
[Image: Flickr user David Schott]