Startup AltSchool just raised $US100 million in a round led by Founders Fund, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s donor-advised fund, as well as Andreessen Horowitz, the company announced Monday.
Additional investors included Emerson Collective, First Round Capital, Learn Capital, John Doerr, Harrison Metal, Jonathan Sackler, Omidyar Network and Adrian Aoun.
AltSchool was founded by ex-Googler Max Ventilla in 2013, and essentially creates a network of schools for kids between kindergarten and eighth grade. Each school, which the company calls “microschools,” includes about 100 kids that learn in multi-age groups. They also learn in larger multipurpose classrooms compared to a typical school.
There are no principals on-site either — instead, administrative duties are centralised.
The company also has its own proprietary technology platform designed to make it easier to children to learn. AltSchool uses “playlists” that consist of a weekly mix of activities to enhance learning. These so-called playlists include 20-25 activities per week that range between individual projects, small group projects, and whole-class projects.
“From SpaceX to Airbnb to Oscar, today’s strongest entrepreneurs are creating technology-enabled models to transform some of the oldest and most established industries in the world. We believe the time has come to reimagine education,” Brian Singerman, Founders Fund managing partner, said in a statement released by AltSchool. “The U.S. education system has remained largely unaltered for decades. AltSchool has the audacious vision and scalable solutions to accelerate truly transformative change in the education space.”
The $US100 million round will include a new debt facility to fund school expansion, which comes after the startup raised $US33 million in Series A financing last year. The company already has plans to open up new schools in Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Brooklyn this fall.
AltSchool is just one of many startups trying to disrupt school systems and public education. 2U, an online curriculum and degree program used by universities, went public in 2014 and Flatiron School, which teaches students to code, has raised $US15 million.