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SoftBank invests $215 million in education start-up Kahoot as coronavirus boosts e-learning

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  • Norwegian education platform Kahoot announced Tuesday that it’s raised $215 million from SoftBank.
  • It plans to use the fresh funds to fuel growth through new partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions.
  • Educational technology, or “edtech,” has flourished this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.



Masayoshi Son wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp., reacts during a dialog session with Jack Ma, former chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., not pictured, at Tokyo Forum 2019 in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.


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Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp., reacts during a dialog session with Jack Ma, former chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., not pictured, at Tokyo Forum 2019 in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.

LONDON — SoftBank has invested $215 million in Norwegian education start-up Kahoot, taking a 9.7% stake in the company, as demand for online learning platforms skyrockets during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Oslo-based firm said Tuesday it had agreed to sell 43 million new shares at a price of 46 Norwegian krone — or about $5 — per share to SoftBank. It plans to use funds raised from the deal to fuel growth through new partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions, CEO Eilert Hanoa told CNBC.

“It’s all about the general switch in mindset from digital tools being a nice-to-have additional set of features in schools and classrooms, to being maybe the most important toolkit they can use to create engagement,” Hanoa said in an interview Tuesday.

Founded in 2012, Kahoot is a game-based learning service that lets players create and take part in multiple-choice quizzes. One side of the business focuses on schools and home learning, while the other centers on corporate clients looking to make training sessions and presentations.

How the pandemic fast-tracked the multibillion-dollar education technology industry

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Educational technology, or “edtech,” has flourished this year as the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close and increased demand for remote learning software. That’s grabbed the attention of

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SoftBank invests $215 million in education start-up Kahoot

Posted on

Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp., reacts during a dialog session with Jack Ma, former chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., not pictured, at Tokyo Forum 2019 in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.

Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg via Getty Images

LONDON — SoftBank has invested $215 million in Norwegian education start-up Kahoot, taking a 9.7% stake in the company, as demand for online learning platforms skyrockets during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Oslo-based firm said Tuesday it had agreed to sell 43 million new shares at a price of 46 Norwegian krone — or about $5 — per share to SoftBank. It plans to use funds raised from the deal to fuel growth through new partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions, CEO Eilert Hanoa told CNBC.

“It’s all about the general switch in mindset from digital tools being a nice-to-have additional set of features in schools and classrooms, to being maybe the most important toolkit they can use to create engagement,” Hanoa said in an interview Tuesday.

Founded in 2012, Kahoot is a game-based learning service that lets players create and take part in multiple-choice quizzes. One side of the business focuses on schools and home learning, while the other centers on corporate clients looking to make training sessions and presentations.

Educational technology, or “edtech,” has flourished this year as the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close and increased demand for remote learning software. That’s grabbed the attention of investors: Microsoft, for example, invested over $1 million in U.K.-based computing start-up Kano for a minority stake.

And Kahoot is no exception, securing a $28 million round of funding in June. The company, which is listed on Oslo’s Merkur Market, has seen its shares skyrocket over 150% since the start of the year. Hanoa said the

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Seattle startup Skilljar raises $33M as pandemic sparks demand for its customer education software

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The third time really has been a charm for Sandi Lin and Jason Stewart.



Miho Nakayama posing for the camera: Skilljar co-founders Sandi Lin (left) and Jason Stewart. (Skilljar Photos)


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Skilljar co-founders Sandi Lin (left) and Jason Stewart. (Skilljar Photos)

The entrepreneurs began their startup journey in 2013 when the former Amazon employees launched Everpath, a Techstars Seattle company that tried to build a Yelp for online classes. They soon pivoted and began targeting independent instructors, offering them a platform to host online education.

“I call those my first two failed startups,” Lin said this week.

It was the third evolution of the original idea that really took off. Lin and Stewart saw a lot of interest from enterprise companies needing help building customer education experiences. They ultimately launched Skilljar, which has now delivered more than 10 million hours of instruction and 100 million lessons via on-demand and virtual live training programs hosted on its learning management platform.

Skilljar is set to grow even more after raising a fresh $33 million Series B round led by Insight Partners, with participation from existing investors Mayfield, Trilogy Equity Partners, and Shasta Ventures. Total funding to date is north of $50 million. 


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The Seattle startup provides the back-end technology and software that lets companies build cloud-based training and onboarding programs for both their own employees and for end users. The company has more than 300 customers, including Smartsheet, Tableau, Cisco, Zendesk, and others. For example, Tableau uses Skilljar to power its Tableau eLearning training courses, while Nintex taps Skilljar to help lower “how-to” support tickets.

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Skilljar also offers a built-in assessment and certifications engine, as well as analytics on learner activity and integrations with various other software tools.

Tech giants such as Amazon and Microsoft have built their own customer education platforms, but Skilljar hopes to provide the same