A recent venture finance funding that made a lot of VC news highlights was a 20M series B funding round for Quizlet. The series B round accounts for a large portion of Quizlet’s total funding, which is now approximately 32M. Essentially, Quizlet is an online flashcard service that allows users to read and test their study material and share their flashcards with other users on the platform. However, this most recent funding, along with a 12M series A, is allowing Quizlet to expand past a simple flashcard sharing platform. Essentially, Quizlet wants to develop a more advanced machine learning algorithm that tracks what users know, and what they should study repetitively so they can improve long-term retention.  This new approach, titled Quizlet Learn creates a customized study plan that generates a test from multiple study sources, ranging from multiple choice to short answer responses. It’s essentially an artificial intelligence bot that acts as a teacher. One of the Quizlet employees wants to “continue building our machine learning and data science team to build out models of learning that are domain-specific” for “a variety of subjects, from foreign languages and chemistry to non-traditional ones like art and welding.” I would be very impressed (and inclined to use) an artificial intelligence bot that can help me learn to identify art.

The interesting thing to note is that Quizlet is “competing on analytics.” They were a company that was generating a solid revenue until 2009 when they decided to pivot and raises upwards of 32M to remain relevant in the education marketplace. They decided to use business intelligence, and machine learning for their user base to improve their learning approaches. They believe in this philosophy to the point of raising venture capital and losing equity in exchange for this revised business model. It speaks a lot for the potential value they will gain from utilizing business intelligence in their day-to-day operations and product offering. As I generally do in my article reviews, I thought of other business models where a similar problem can be seen. One application that came to mind is other online learning platforms such as Code Academy or Khan Academy, along with many other paid options. The direct application to online learning platforms is obvious – they also need to effectively teach their clients, and an AI bot that can estimate what can be learned at a quick rate and what topics will have a low retention rate is important.

Article Citation:

  1. Wan, Tony. “Quizlet Raises $20 Million to Bring More Artificial Intelligence to Its Study Tools – EdSurge News.” EdSurge. February 06, 2018. Accessed February 15, 2018. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-02-06-quizlet-raises-20-million-to-bring-more-artificial-intelligence-to-its-study-tools.
  2. Wan, Tony. “Bootstrapped Since 2005, Quizlet Raises $12 Million to Reach 1 Billion Learners – EdSurge News.” EdSurge. July 10, 2016. Accessed February 15, 2018. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-11-23-bootstrapped-since-2005-quizlet-raises-12-million-to-reach-1-billion-learners.