Social-studying site Piazza snags funding
Piazza, a Facebook-alumna created site that is trying to bring a little social-networking pizazz to university education, has secured $6 million in funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Kapor Capital, and Felicis Ventures.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based site, launched last year, is helping university students collaborate in online study groups under the guidance of their instructors. The cash will help Piazza expand beyond the several hundred schools where students use it today, said founder and chief executive Pooja Sankar, and into new study areas. Currently, it has the most traction in science, technology, engineering and math.
The site is free to its users, but Sankar plans to build revenue streams down the line. She envisions charging licensing fees to companies or other noneducational users who would like to use the platform to train employees, for example. Piazza currently has about 100,000 students from several hundred universities enrolled.
Sankar, a former Facebook sofware developer, has become the latest in a string of Facebook alumni to bring social networking to a niche area. Notably, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and engineering manager Justin Rosenstein left Facebook in late 2008 to start Asana, which harnesses social networking for the workplace.
The education theme has become increasingly popular with VCs. Online textbook rental company Chegg, student-networking company Edmodo, and test-preparation Grockit have all raised funds in recent months.