Summary:

Google Ventures has invested in Desmos, a startup offering a free, browser-based graphing calculator. The funding follows previous investments from Kapor Capital, Learn Capital, Kindler Capital, and Elm Street Ventures and brings the startup’s total amount raised to more than $1 million.

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My old TI-83 graphing calculator served me just fine in high school math, but I certainly didn’t look for extra reasons to play with it (at least not until I realized I could download Tetris).  But things might have been different if Desmos was around back then.

Initially launched last year as a browser-based interactive whiteboard for learning, Desmos quickly decided to focus on one of the most popular features: an online graphing calculator that plots graphs in real-time.

Last summer, the company raised $800,000 from Kapor Capital, Learn Capital, Kindler Capital, and Elm Street Ventures. And on Wednesday Desmos is announcing that it’s taking an investment from Google Ventures to grow its eight-person team and expand. The company declined to share the exact amount of the Google Ventures investment but said it brings their total raised to more than $1 million.

Since launching the calculator last summer, founder and CEO Eli Luberoff said it’s reached teachers, students and designers in 169 countries.  He said they’re not ready to share specific engagement numbers but said the number of users has grown 10x and time per visit has climbed by the same multiple.

Replacing the current class of graphing calculators is the most obvious potential goal, but Luberoff said their hopes are bigger.

“We think we can make math more engaging for people who weren’t interested in it before,” he said.

Within a few minutes of playing around on the site, it’s easy to see its appeal. The free software launches within any browser, on any device and as soon as you start typing out equations, the program responds.  For inspiration, the site showcases some of the graphs saved by other users – from simple designs and smiley faces to complete pictures of SuperMan and Pokemon characters.

Luberoff said they’re committed to keeping the browser-based calculator free but said they’re starting to forge partnerships with publishers to make digital textbooks more interactive. For example, a math textbook with an embedded interactive Desmos graph is likely on the horizon.

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