Course Hero acquires LitCharts, founded by the creators of SparkNotes – TechCrunch

I’ll admit it: I was the student who warned the teacher that half of our English class, including me, was using SparkNotes to “read” Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, instead of reading the text to him. -even. The site, which offered chapter-by-chapter book summaries, was the best way to review novels before a quiz – or was the best last-minute savior if you procrastinated too much and never managed to open the book. in the first place.

With history in mind, it makes sense that the creators of everyone’s favorite procrastination tool, SparkNotes, get noticed by an edtech unicorn. LitCharts, an offshoot of SparkNotes, was picked up today by a new edtech unicorn, Course Hero. The price of the transaction was not disclosed. That said, Course Hero last raised an $ 80 million Series B in August 2020, and part of that check presumably went to that deal.

The creators of SparkNotes, Ben Florman and Justin Kestler, created LitCharts as an extension of their initial success. LitCharts provides notes, definitions and translations on over 2,000 literary texts. Similar to SparkNotes, LitCharts aims to make complex passages less complex. Course Hero founder Andrew Grauer estimates that around 30% of LitCharts subscribers are teachers and educators.

“We want to make sure that we have the best solution for a specific area, and then at the right time, be able to make a truly genuine recommendation of another tool or other offering that may be of use to you. [as a student]Grauer said of Course Hero’s long-term ambition. This strap – or connecting students from one resource to another – could be one of the benefits of virtual education, because it basically exists a historical log of every mistake, trip, and pause a student makes during a lesson.

The heart of Course Hero, says Grauer, is to create a question-and-answer platform with extreme levels of specificity for students. It sells student subscriptions that unlock access to all of its learning and teaching content, which includes course-specific material created by teachers and editors. Naturally, a big part of Course Hero’s strategy is to offer material on common topics that students struggle with – English being one of those topics.

“We looked at the data on the platform, and where students are stuck the most, where they need help the most, and where they ask the most questions,” Grauer said. “And it’s quite informative.”

The company has grown its literature library over the past five to six years. With LitCharts under its wing, Course Hero is investing heavily in its literature library, which is full of videos, illustrations and text notes.

This is Course Hero’s second acquisition in the past eight months. In October, Course Hero acquired Symbolab, an artificial intelligence-based calculator that helps students answer and understand complex math questions. This agreement has helped strengthen Course Hero’s math offering, and today’s acquisition should help Course Hero deepen its library resources. These two brands will continue to operate independently – a choice that Grauer says is part of his operating thesis of supporting “decentralized entrepreneurial empowerment”.

“If you centralize everything, maybe there is power in that [since] everything looks the same, but in fact by doing [that too] many times… you can actually go slower and not be able to go fast and make decisions and progress towards the goal because you are optimizing for so many small, specific use cases, ”he said. -he declares. The two recent startups acquired by Course Hero have been operating for over a decade, and Grauer believes their size and brand power are worth keeping as they are, rather than forcing them to become an umbrella brand.

On its various platforms, Course Hero estimates that it will reach between 2 and 3 million paying subscribers this year, compared to 1 million subscribers the previous year.

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