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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

April 20, 2010 at 10:48 AM

Bellevue’s DreamBox sold, Netflix boss adds $10M

Online education startup DreamBox has been sold to Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings and a non-profit venture fund, Hastings announced an education conference in Arizona today.

Hastings has had pretty good luck selling monthly subscriptions for video entertainment.

I wonder if he plans to use Bellevue-based DreamBox — which provides online math education programs for a monthly fee — to build an educational equivalent. Maybe parents could someday click a box on their Netflix bill to stream educational games and tests, as well as movies.

The sale price wasn’t disclosed but the investors said they’re putting an additional $10 million in “to expedite the company’s aggressive growth strategy to significantly increase its footprint in U.S. schools with the development of new e-Learning content across a variety of core disciplines, as well as ongoing technology advancements to the DreamBox Learning Platform.”

Dreambox was started in 2006 by former Microsoft executive Ben Slivka and Lou Gray, former president of UIEvolution. They launched it with $7.1 million from angel investors and began selling its $13-a-month elementary education program last year, with the initial offerings aimed at kindergarteners through 3rd graders.

Both Slivka and Gray have now stepped aside. Hastings took on Slivka’s role as chairman, and the investors are going to search for a chief executive to replace Gray. Meanwhile DreamBox will be led by the remaining executives – Sarah Daniels, marketing vice president, and Daniel Kerns, vice president of product development.

DreamBox has 18 employees and will remain in Bellevue, a spokeswoman said.

Hastings — who is also a Microsoft board member — said his goal is “to fuel the movement of e-Learning and help millions of students.”

“I have evaluated many companies in the K-12 e-learning marketplace and DreamBox Learning clearly stood out,” he said. “They have already shown strong results in a short period of time, and the DreamBox Learning Platform has the best underlying adaptive technology, giving every student the opportunity to thrive through innovative online learning,” Hastings said in a release.

The other investor, Broomfield, Colo.-based Charter School Growth Fund, is led by Kevin Hall, a co-founder of charter school operator Chancellor Beacon Academies.

Comments | More in | Topics: ben slivka, dreambox, Education

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