It looks like social learning platform Edmodo is on an upward swing. In the past year the education startup has not only more than doubled its user base from 3 million to 8 million and expanded to 85 of the country’s top 100 school districts, it has now raised a significant amount of funding from top-tier Silicon Valley venture firms Greylock Partners and Benchmark Capital. On Thursday, the San Mateo, Calif. company plans to announce that it has raised yet another big round of financing and added New Enterprise Associates to its roster of top investors.
The $25 million Series C round, led by NEA and including current investors Greylock, Benchmark, Union Square Ventures and Learn Capital, brings Edmodo’s total funding to $47.5 million. Adding NEA into its mix of funders makes sense for the quickly growing startup as the venture fund has also invested in other ed tech companies, including Coursera and Benchprep. As part of the deal, NEA’s Tony Florence will join Edmodo’s board, which already includes big-name venture capitalists Reid Hoffman and Matt Cohler, both of whom played key roles in the successes of LinkedIn(s LNKD) and Facebook (s FB).
Launched in 2009, Edmodo gives teachers and students a private and safe social network to post messages, collaborate, share class materials, access homework and more. It lets teachers and students in a given class communicate with each other, as well as connect with other classrooms miles away. For school administrators, it provides a way to track and analyze school and classroom engagement.
The free platform, which is available on both desktop and mobile devices, is used by people in every state in the country, as well as every country in the world, the company said.
But though it has momentum, Edmodo isn’t the only company angling to help educational networks bring their communities and classrooms to the Web. Blackboard and Moodle have offered schools and teachers e-learning platforms for a while, but New York-based Schoology is a more recent addition to the educational social networking and class management space and, like Edmodo, offers users a consumer-web Facebook-like experience. With one million users, it has a smaller user base than Edmodo, and it’s raised just about $9 million in venture funding. But with a model that targets teachers with a free basic service and schools, districts and organizations with a fee-based premium version, it’s steadily adding teachers, students and major school districts across the country.
As more schools start to bring their classrooms into the social era, COO Crystal Hutter said the new funding will give the company room to enhance its products and support users.
“We’re 100 percent focused on continuing to improve the quality of the service and experience,” she said. “We’ve been committed to being a free service for teachers and students and schools from day one and this really gives us a runway to continue to build the team and service for our users.”
In March, the company gave its first indication of how it will make money when it opened up its API to third-party developers to create apps built on top of Edmodo’s platform. The thinking is that educational app developers can charge schools and teachers for new kinds of content and software delivered through the platform, and then Edmodo can take a cut. At launch, Edmodo had about 40 digital publishers creating interactive content and tools for Edmodo and, by the start of the new school year, the company expects that figure to be close to 100.