You may have noticed a trend recently to make investing more accessible and attainable for the general public. You shouldn’t have to have a Master’s degree and 5 years professional experience to get the chance to make your first investments and shape your own future. This is where Bitpanda comes in. Founded in 2014 in…
Zoom was never created to be a consumer product. Nonetheless, the video-conferencing company’s accessibility made it the answer to every social situation threatened by the pandemic, from happy hours to meetings.
Months later, we’re realizing that force-feeding social experiences into an enterprise software company isn’t a perfect solution. Zoom School is a perfect example of what’s not working: Remote education is a hot mess for students, teachers and parents. Instructors, who could once engage a classroom through whiteboard activities, mini-group presentations and one-on-one discussions, are now stuck to one screen.
Well more than six months into a global pandemic, former Blackboard CEO and former PrecisionHawk CEO Michael Chasen is daring to dream: What if we didn’t assume Zoom was a Band-Aid fix for schools? What if someone created a Zoom experience that was designed, not just marketed, for classrooms?
“If I told you that the majority of classes being held online today, teachers couldn’t take attendance, hand out assignments, give a test or a quiz, grade anything or talk one on one with students, you would say how is teaching and learning even happening?” he told TechCrunch.
Chasen is launching a new company, ClassEDU, with a first product that isn’t too shy about its ambitions, named Class for Zoom. Although the name might convince you that it’s a third-party add-on to Zoom, it’s an entirely independently owned company. And it’s built for teachers who need to find a way to create more-engaging, live-synchronous learning.
When a teacher logs into the Zoom call, they’ll be brought to a screen that looks like this:
As you can see, they can toggle between the classroom, assignments, tests and quizzes, or the whiteboard. Instead of unorganized tab time, the teacher can take the video call as a one-stop shop for their entire lesson, from syncing materials from the CMS system to polling students on their thoughts to grading the quiz they just took. It’s a full-suite solution, and an ambitious one at that.
The best way to break down Class for Zoom’s features is by separating them into two buckets: instruction tools and management tools.
On the instruction side, Class for Zoom helps teachers launch live assignments, quizzes, and tests, which can be completed by students in real time. Students can also be polled to motivate engagement. Instructors can be granted access to unmute a class or mute a class during appropriate times.
The marquee feature of the instruction tools is that teachers and students can talk privately without leaving the Zoom call if there’s a question. This is key for shy students who might not want to speak up, inspired by Chasen’s daughter, who struggled to share in front of an entire classroom.
On the management side, tools range from attendance trackers to features that allow a teacher to see how much time a student is participating in activities. Chasen, who founded Blackboard when he was in college, also gave a nod to his prior company by allowing teachers to integrate CMS systems right into the Zoom classroom.
Less popular, Chasen jokes, is Class for Zoom’s ability to give teachers intel on if a student has Zoom as the primary app in use on their screen. The attention-tracking feature is not new, but it is oversight some people might not be okay with. Students can disable the ability to track focus, but administrators can make it mandatory. The platform also allows teachers to monitor a student’s desktop during an exam to limit cheating.
Class for Zoom’s access to a student’s personal computer could make some users uncomfortable. Zoom has been banned from some school districts due to security concerns, and a wave of Zoombombing attacks, where an unwanted participant hacks into a call and streams inappropriate or offensive content. In response, the video conferencing company has put in security measures, such as verification tools and waiting rooms.
Chasen says that Class for Zoom is balancing its access to information by giving students the option to opt into tracking features versus forcing them to.
Class for Zoom isn’t the only startup trying to make Zoom a better experience. A number of tools built atop Zoom have launched in the past few months, partially because the price of Zoom’s SDK is $ 0. Macro raised $ 4.3 million to add depth and analysis to Zoom calls, with an interface that tracks metrics like speaker time and notes. It has more than 25,000 users. Mmhmm got buzz in July for its creative demo that lets users create a broadcast-style video-conferencing experience atop their videoconferencing platform of choice.
Somewhat predictably, Zoom launched a competing feature with Mmhmm that calls into question whether the startups that layer atop incumbents look more like features instead of full-fledged platforms.
Of course, one threat to any of these products is Zoom’s mood. If Zoom tweaks its policy on SDK and API, it could completely wipe out Class for Zoom. But Chasen has reason to be optimistic that this won’t happen.
Today, Class for Zoom announced that it has raised a $ 16 million seed round, pre-launch, co-led by Deborah Quazzo of GSV Ventures and Santi Subotovsky of Emergence Capital and a current Zoom board member. Other investors includee Jim Scheinman of Maven Partners, an early investor in Zoom and the person who is credited with naming Zoom; Bill Tai, who is Zoom’s first committed backer; Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and CEO of Revolution.
When asked if the Zoom investor involvement works as “insurance” to protect the startup, Chasen said he didn’t view it like that. Instead, the founder thinks that Zoom is focused more on scale than in-depth specialization. In other words, Zoom isn’t going to pull a Twitter, but instead likens the platform’s developer friendliness to that of Salesforce, which has tons of tools built atop of it. Second, Class for Zoom is a certified Zoom reseller, and makes money off of commission when a district buys Zoom through them. The informal and formal partnerships are enough glue, it seems, for Chasen to bet on stability.
As for whether the technology will stay exclusive to Zoom, Chasen says that it’s the main focus because Zoom is the “de facto industry standard in education.” If other platforms pick up speed, Chasen says they are open to experimenting with different software.
Chasen declined to share exact numbers around pricing, but said that it is a work in progress to find a price point that districts can afford. It’s unclear whether the company will charge per seat, but the founder said that it will charge some type of subscription service fee.
Accessibility in edtech solutions often relies on the medium that the technology and instruction lives on. For example, even if a product is free to use, if it needs high-speed internet and a Mac to work then it might not be accessible to the average home in America. The digital divide is why products often test usability on Chromebooks, low-cost computers that low-income students, teachers and school districts employ.
In Class for Zoom’s case, the first iteration of the product is being rolled out for teachers with Macintosh computers, which could leave out some key demographics due to expense. It’s worth noting that while students can still participate in a class being run on Class for Zoom without the software, the view, tracking and engagement software will be missing.
Thankfully, the new financing will be used to help ClassEDU build software that is usable on low-cost computers such as Chromebooks, as well as Windows, Android or iPhones. When that happens, teachers and students can both benefit from a more engaging view.
Chasen said that the idea for the startup began brewing just weeks into quarantine, when his three kids began learning from home. Months later, Class for Zoom is finally set to launch its beta version and is opening up its waitlist today. By January, Chasen hopes, it will be accessible to any school that wants it.
These two posts should explain much of what I have to say.
Be sure to read the above links (at least read the first one!) before reading the rest of my post.
Growing up I always seen criticism from many leftists- in particular American liberals, Communists (especially those from Russia or descending from former upperclass Soviets), Anarchists, and other political groups leaning towards lefty fiscal economics about how its unfair businessmen like Trump are successful because they already inherited the wealth and profitable company of their parents or they came from upper middle class background and have outstanding education like Bill Gates.
This criticism goes beyond people involved in politics. I cannot tell you how many poor people often scoff at the rich business owners because they are just lucky to have been born from wealthy parents. Hell I even see middle class people who are well off attacking the Bill Gates and other successes as lazy imbeciles who are just "sitting on their butts all day long" and they are hoarding wealth so it should be distributed. I seen from the general populace, both poor and middle class, attack the capitalist system because business men aren't really doing hardwork nor are they producing anything of value.
I will admit just for the sake of what I will say in a minute that I am not a conservative. I've been raised in a minarchist household that favors neither leftist nor rightest view but merely view government should have minimal interaction in everything from what movies you watch to visiting a brothel to AK47 owndership. So yes I already have views that are contradictory to conservative idealism.
Yet I could never understand the criticism "business men are lazy because they inherited their richness" and "running a business is as easy as 123!". Even before I started going into the stock market, I already had first hand experience of how running a business would be like via stays at my auntie (who I mentioned in one of the above reddit links, owns a restaurant). In addition to seeing the dangers and difficulties of kitchen cookings, everytime I stayed over I would always hear her at night getting enraged as she spoke on the phone as she was speaking with employees, partners, and other business associates about so many complex subjects such as paying the bills, trying to get a new insurance company's support, difficulties with kitchen equipment, etc. I could always see how stressed my auntie would be everytime she woke up before she drank coffee and took a bath.
Mind you my auntie is actually quite a successful business owner. At the time she already had a $ 1,000,000 (I was 14 when she had that amount) in one of her bank accounts and when I talked to her which was weeks before I tried to get into stocks and bonds recently, she told me she had amassed a little over $ 10 million in that specific bank account. This is not counting assets, her other bank account savings, etc. But I can see despite being merely 46, she's already full of gray hair (I'm only 22 just to put this into perspective).
So I was not naive to believe I'll get rich quick when I tried to enter stock market recently as I already know first hand how hard business can be. Yet even I was caught off guard at how simplistic stuff such as comparing different stocks in chart analysis could be.
So it makes me wonder why the politically left and anarchist as well as poor and many middle class people think running a business and investments is a cakewake? And why many of them think just because Trump was given a lot of cash to start business by his already rich dad that it was easy as playing video games for him to run his enterprises?
I mean has any one seen how Tom Kalinske left his job as CEO of Sega of America with grey hair just because the stress of company politics got him? Or how medical analysts are saying Steve Jobs had a relatively young death because of his diseases which they theorized was probably caused by being overworked running Apple?
People who ran business before and made investments, I would like your input!
OurCrowd, an Israeli crowdfunding and venture investment company which includes former US Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, courted UAE investors in a virtual meeting on Tuesday, touting opportunities to fund start-ups in areas like healthcare, mobility and artificial intelligence.
Read more here.
The post [OurCrowd in The National] Israel’s most active VC firm courts UAE investors appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.
Noting that both the UAE and Bahrain are “true leaders” when the topics being discussed are smart cities, healthcare, transportation and shipping, OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved noted that “in these areas, we don’t look to lead, we look to learn” from possible new partners – now made possible thanks to the recently signed Abraham Accords.
Read more here.
The post [OurCrowd in The Jerusalem Post] UAE Angel investors introduced to the landscape of Israeli innovation appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.
The spotlight on edtech grows brighter and harsher: On one end, remote-learning startups are attracting millions in venture capital. On the other, many educators and parents are unimpressed with the technology that enables virtual learning and gaps remain in and out of the classroom.
It’s clear that edtech’s nebulous pain points — screen time, childcare and classroom management — require innovation. But as founders flurry to a sector recently rejuvenated with capital, the influx of interest has not fostered any breakout solutions. As a result, edtech investors must hone their skills at sorting the innovators from the opportunists amid the rush.
Lucky for us, investors shared notes during TechCrunch Disrupt and offline regarding how they are separating the gold from the dust, giving us a peek into their due diligence process (and inboxes).
Putting profitability over growth
The pandemic has broadly forced founders to get more conservative and prioritize profitability over the usual “growth at all costs” startup mentality. Growth still matters, but within edtech, the boom comes with a big focus on profitability, efficacy, outcomes and societal impact.
“The goal of all of education is personalized learning, when every student receives exactly the instruction in the way that they need it at the time that they need it. And that’s really, really difficult to do if you’re trying to have one person teach 180 students,” said Mercedes Bent of Lightspeed Venture Partners. “And so I’ve been excited to see more solutions that are focused on creating smaller class sizes that are also focused on allowing students to connect with people outside of their homes as well.”
During Disrupt, Reach Capital’s Jennifer Carolan brought up a recent Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma,” which illustrates the impact screen time can have on society. When vetting companies, Carolan said she wanted to see founders who have considered how their products may impact young users.
I have fully finished and monetized app for Gaming which requires low, but still respectable number of users in order to be useful; App requires interaction between users.
(In short App helps gamers to find true friends based on their personal preferences for hanging online and playing together)
Me and my best friend have never launched it online because we lack capital resources, in the same time we are not greedy for equity.
Only proof we have: online surveys, very similar apps for other industries are worth billions
What is your opinion is it possible to find partners (investors) if there is no traction?
Comment if you can, Thanks!
Domaining Tips: Today: OTI.net sold for $ 5,900 / The best email outreach tool for outbound sales / $ 0.01 .CYOU registration / and more… Here are the new discussions that caught my eye in the domain community today: Looking to buy SQUADHELP PREMIUM domains can go up to $ 500 – Are you holding one of these SquadHelp premium […] The post How…
Yesterday during Disrupt 2020 I sat down with three investors who know the SaaS startup market very well, hoping to get my head around how hot things are today. Coming on the heels of the epic Snowflake IPO (more to come on that in this weekend’s newsletter), it was a great time for a chat.
I’ve boiled our 40-minute discussion down to my favorite parts, getting you the goods in quick fashion.
- how fast the SaaS investing market is today
- why Snowflake priced where it did and what that tells us about today’s market
- how SaaS companies are seeing different growth results based on their sales motion
- why some private-market SaaS multiples can get so high
- which software sectors are accelerating
- and what I learned about international SaaS.
There are more things to pull out later, like the investors’ thoughts regarding diversity in their part of the venture world and SaaS startups, but I want to give that topic its own space.
To help us get through a good bit of the written word without slowing down, I’ll introduce an idea, share a quote and provide a little commentary. This should be good fun.
NamePros.com: In this week’s Top Topics, we feature a six-figure, three-letter .COM sale, and there’s a general discussion about disclosing domain sales data. Elsewhere, a seasoned domainer comes up with a list of ten mistakes made by new investors, and just how do you come up with ideas for hand registration domains? How Do You Come Up With Han…