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Google’s fund invests $40 mn in education technology firm Renaissance Learning

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Google Inc’s investment fund, Google Capital, has invested $40 million in exchange for a minority stake in Renaissance Learning, valuing the education technology firm owned by British private equity firm Permira at $1 billion.

This is the third investment by Google Capital, formed in 2013, aimed at investing in in late-stage technology start-ups in search of additional capital, and its first in the education segment.

Commentators say the investment may help Google gain an insight for new product opportunities, since the internet giant already offers educational versions of core products like Gmail, Google Docs and Chromebook computers.

As part of the investment, Google Capital will get one board seat at Renaissance Learning.

Google Capital had earlier invested in Survey Monkey, an online survey company, and Lending Club, a peer-to-peer lending company.

”For many educators, the question is not whether to embrace new technology, but how to embrace technology in a way that makes teachers’ lives easier and meaningfully boosts student achievement,” said, Gene Frantz, an executive at Google Capital.

”Renaissance Learning is at the forefront of this educational movement, and their ability to use data to support effective teaching and drive student growth is unparalleled,” he added.

Founded in 1985 by Judi and Terry Paul, Wisconsin-based Renaissance Learning is an educational assessment and learning analytics company that makes cloud-based educational software for school children from Kindergarten to the 12th grade.

Renaissance Learning’s tools provide daily formative assessment and periodic progress-monitoring technology to enhance core curriculum, support differentiated instruction, and personalize practice in reading, writing and math.

It now hosts data for more than 38,000 schools and reading records for almost 11 million US students and has over 900 employees in six US locations and subsidiaries in Canada and the UK.

Permira Funds had acquired Renaissance Learning in 2011for around $455 million, after it sweetened its offer to match a rival takeover bid from Plato Learning.

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