Sequoia-backed kids educational startupDuckDuckMooseis heading to Khan Academy, to add preschool learning to the non-profits digital education offerings. The startups 21 mobile apps aimed at children ages two and up are now available for free as a part of the move, which is not technically being considered an acquisition, due to the way the deal was funded.
Instead, the 9-person Duck Duck Moose team will be in charge of a new initiative inside Khan Academy, aimed at developing early learning products. Like the non-profits other initiatives, this too will be funded by philanthropic support and other community donations.Omidyar Network, aphilanthropic investment firmis the first tounderwrite the new initiative with a $3 million grant.
Founded back in 2008 Caroline Hu Flexer, formerly of IDEO, husband Michael Flexer, who hasextensive startup experience, and designer Nicci Gabriel, Duck Duck Moose is the maker of some of the better kids apps on the App Store.
The startup raised $7 million in outside funding from investors likeSequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Stanford University to develop its suite of apps.
Even in an App Store crowded with choices, Duck Duck Moosessoftware tended to stand out due to its quality design and ability to engage children with apps built from the ground-up using original IP, content, drawings, animation and music. Many of the apps featured popular kids songs, like Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider, or Baa Baa Black Sheep, for example, while others focused on learning materiallike math, spelling or reading.
To date, its 21 apps have been downloaded more than 10 million times.
Previously paid applications, by joining Khan Academy, Duck Duck Mooses applications will now be made freely available, broadening their reach.
Were joining Khan Academy because its the best way for us to have the largest impact on early learning and children, said Caroline Hu Flexer, in a statement. Were excited to make all of our products free so they can be accessible to children all over the world, regardless of their financial resources. She added that Duck Duck Mooses original investors, Sequoia and Lightspeed, helped to make the donation happen.
The move, which is being characterized as a donation, not an acquisition, will also broaden the reach of Khan Academy itself.
Today,the platform is used by 100 million people every year, who access its resources that cover preschool through early college education, including math, biology, chemistry, physics, economics, finance, history, grammar and more. With Duck Duck Moose, however, it will be able to expand its offerings to those children who have yet to enter preschool, as well as early learners.
While a good outcome in terms of being able to keep the learning apps around, and makingthem more accessible, its also a telling example of how difficult it is to run a successful and profitable consumer-led educational app business in todays App Store. Companies like Age of Learning, now valued at $1 billion, is more of an exception, not the rule. It also leverages its traction in the classroom to target parents, who then buy in-home subscriptions to its service.
Meanwhile, the App Stores Top Grossing charts in the Education category are filled more so with brain-training games like Lumosity, Brainwell, Elevate, and others, not necessarily paid kids apps. In fact, the only rival for Age of Learning (aka ABCMouse)s top spot on the Top Grossing chart is another subscription service, PlayKids.
Early childhood learning is a natural next step for Khan Academy. It allows us to reach children at a younger age and begin to have an earlier impact on basic literacy and math skills, write Khan Academy founder Sal Khan in a blog postabout the deal. Were thrilled to enter early childhood learning with Duck Duck Moose as our partner.