Class, even though it is a bit nascent with reference to the technological market, seems like it has a bright future ahead of it. The platform has not even been around for a year, and yet it is making moves in the educational-technological industry. This, in general, might not seem like a big deal, especially when you take into account the fact that with the onset of the pandemic, edtech platforms such as Class and Zoom saw a boom in use because institutions were looking for better ways to communicate over distance. However, though this is very true, the rate at which Class has been able to grow in such a short period of time is absolutely fascinating. Even though it is making rounds all over the internet and the world in general, there are still those that do not know what Class is and what it is all about, and this article is here to remedy that. So here are twenty things that you did not know about Class.
Like a myriad of other edtech platforms, Class, according To Class, was conceptualized and brought to reality after the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on all things educational all over the world. Thus, as of August 2021, the platform is not even a year old, and yet it is one of the highest valued edtech platforms in the world.
Class used instruction tools and user management tools to ensure that the overall video conferencing experience is bolstered. In many ways, it is simply a class, but instead of having it in a physical location, the normal activities that the students and teachers would do are done on an online platform. For this reason, Class is used by education facilities to conduct lessons online. As of today, it has more than 250 customers, which are large to medium institutions, using it. This means that the platform has thousands of students using it, and a vast majority of them have only had nice things to say about the platform.
3. It is exclusive to Zoom
Zoom is a quintessence of the edtech platforms that have over recent months revolutionized how not only educational institutions but also organizations all over the world in general operate. It is at the apogee when it comes to communication between multiple people that are separated by a geographical distance, no matter how large, via the internet. It should come as no surprise then that class is exclusive to Zoom. This means that no other platform in the world can use Class apart from Zoom. In many ways, this has helped Class achieve the status that it has achieved today. Notwithstanding, Class’s uniqueness makes it possible for users to do what they are not able to do with ordinary Zoom. Class was, in fact, originally called Class for Zoom, before it shortened the name to just Class.
4. Financial backing
Even though it is in fact new in relation to other platforms in its niche, Class has been able to get a myriad of investors on board, according to Tech Crunch. On July 28th, 2021, the platform announced that it had raised, through financing backed by Softbank Vision Fund II, 105 million dollars. This means that in the ten months that the platform has been in existence, it has been able to raise in excess of 146 million dollars in terms of known venture funding. What’s more, it is not just the money coming in that makes Class look like a good investment opportunity, but also the fact that its valuation has grown steadily since its inception. Class has confirmed that its current post-money valuation is in the region of 804 million dollars. This means that in no less than a year, the company is near achieving unicorn status.
5. Its investors
As mentioned earlier, the company has a myriad of investors. Some of them include Emergence Capital, which led the startup’s pre-seed round, and GSV Ventures. Class also boasts of top U.S edtech investors that have a real eye for talent, such as Learn Capital, Insight Partners, Owl Ventures, and Reach Capital.
6. It has a couple of investors from Zoom
It also has a lot of individual investors. Some of them are actually prominent Zoom Board members and investors, which goes to show just how deep the two platforms are interlinked. Santi Subotovsky is an investor and is also a board member at Zoom, Jim Scheinman, who is credited for naming Zoom and was an early investor there is also an investor in Class, and Bill Tai, who was Zoom’s first committed backer, is also an investor.
7. Education integrated
For an edtech startup to make sure that it is able to meet all the requirements that educational facilities demand from it, it must have a lot of knowledge in the education industry in general, and what ways to meet those needs in particular. This is the reason why Class has ensured that amongst its investors is a wealth of the edtech sector.
8. Its founder also co-founded Blackboard
The founder of Class, Michael Chasen, is also a co-founder of another edtech platform Blackboard, according to BlackBoard, he knows what it takes to run an edtech startup effectively and efficiently, thus making a profit and keeping the customer satisfied. Jessie Woolley-Wilson was previously the president of Blackboard Inc.’s K-12 division, and is now not only an investor in Class but is also the CEO of DreamBox Learning. Steve Case is the Chairman and CEO of Revolution and also Leads Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, co-founder of America Online.
9. Investors with a history in technology and startups
Jeff Lieberman is an investor in both consumer internet companies and SaaS software, is the Managing Director at Insight Partners, and is an investor in the company. Deborah Quazzo is the Managing Partner for GSV Ventures which is the leading global edtech venture firm. Not only does Class have enough capital to sustain the development of its product and its continued expansion into other markets, but it also has a wealth of knowledge that works behind the scenes to ensure that the users get what they want when it comes to the platform. This is the secret sauce that has fueled the platforms assent to the top, and what is likely to keep it there.
10. SoftBank’s eye for talent
SoftBank, as an investor, is known for backing what it thinks is the race favorite and placing a lot of money on the odds. Of course, no one would invest in something they believe will not prove to be profitable in the future. However, SoftBank is known for winning in almost all its backings.
11. SoftBank’s Modus Operandi
The Bank makes sure that it picks a particular business or entity in a particular sector, and injects millions of dollars into it to make sure that the said entity gains a foothold in the international market. It has done this a plethora of times, and it has proven to be a very effective and efficient template for success. Take for example the fact that the Japanese conglomerate recently invested 215 million into the Toronto-based Clearco, which is a fintech provider for online companies. It is as clear as day that SoftBank’s modus operandi is to try to identify opinionated startups that have an international pull, and funds into them, and Class is a quintessence of this.
12. International demand
One of the reasons why SoftBank, as well as the other investors, chose to invest in Class is because of the promise that the platform holds, and the demand for such a platform all over the world. International demand for the platform and for the services offered by the platform has been high even before it was released. Schools and educational institutions from Europe, Japan, and the Middle East reached out to the organization responsible for making Class even before the platform’s roll-out had begun. That was way back when.
13. It can be integrated into all Operating systems
Now, the platform, by making sure that it is available on all operating systems; Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Chromebook, has created even more demand in international markets. The Platform now aims at building local teams in targeted markets all over the world, such as Ireland and the U.K, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. These local teams will make it possible for the organization to deal more directly with its customers. In fact, Chasen, the current CEO and Co-Founder for Class has estimated that 65 percent of the 105 million brought in by SoftBank will go towards the platform’s internationalization, with the rest being used to ensure that the platform continues to develop and get better.
14. Getting better
One of the main critiques that have been leveled against the platform is its lack of a distinct user experience. It has been said a couple of times that the user experience is similar for a second-grade class as it is for a higher education class. This, as is obvious, should not be the case, and Class understands this. The bare minimum, with features such as grade tracking and testing, even though sufficient, is not appealing, and users want to get their money’s worth when it comes to the quality of the platform. The product development aforementioned will mainly focus on specificity; making sure that there are different levels to cater to different needs for different organizations. It has been speculated that there will be gamification for K-12 for higher education classes, as well as exam proctoring, in upcoming versions of the platform. This will be a huge plus and will add to its international appeal.
The recent rise in sales and consequential valuations for the platform have squashed, or at least temporarily silenced, the rumors that Class was positioning itself to be acquired by Zoom. These rumors have floated around ever since Class was conceptualized, and since Class is a feature exclusive to Zoom, it would make sense for the latter to purchase the former.
However, as stated, the recent capital raise has put this theory into question. Moreover, Zoom has specifically stated, through a couple of sources, that it is more focused on scale, and increasing its market share as opposed to specialization. On the other hand, Class is more focused on making sure that the users are able to get a myriad of features on one up; increasing its depth when it comes to specialization. Even though the two entities have different endgames, their symbiotic relationship has profited both of them, and their users as well.
17. A merger might still take place
This is not to say that the consolidation of the two platforms is out of this world. That is far from the truth. Some of the investors in Class are also present as board members or are affiliated, with Zoom, as mentioned earlier. Ergo, there might be something brewing, but it may take some time before it is brought to light and brought to corporeality. This all depends on what Class wants to do. It may decide to use some of the million so of dollars, it has received in investment and establishes itself at the apogee when it comes to creating a classroom-friendly Zoom environment for schools and educational facilities, in general, all over the world.
18. Now Hiring
As per the platform’s career page, it is evident that marketing is its most aggressive hiring focus. At the moment, the company has stated that it has six open roles in its marketing team, and is looking to find placements for them. These roles include the content marketing manager and the international marketing manager. If it is able to market itself properly, then the sky is the limit for Class.
The main competitor for Class is Engageli, which is also making some interesting moves in terms of trying and consolidating the market for itself. In May of 2021, it completed its Series A and was able to raise about 33 million dollars.
That being said, the founder and now-former COO of the company. Jamie Farrell, left in February of the same year for another edtech startup, according to Engageli, The company, according to its online job boards, doesn’t appear to be hiring too aggressively, which may mean that they are comfortable with what they got, and are only trying to improve their product. Engageli knows that its main competitor is Class, and now that the latter has received a fresh injection of capital, the former knows that the dynamics of the playing field have shifted, and they must also pull up their socks.