Discovery leads $20 million Investment in Grockit and Learnist


The later the year, the higher the funding. Grockit just announced a $20 million strategic investment led by Discovery Communications with participation of Summit Group and previous investors Atlas Venture, Benchmark Capital, Integral Capital Partners and GSV Capital Corp.

But money isn’t all that Grockit gets out of this strategic investment. Discovery will also share technology and explore marketing, distribution and promotion options with Learnist.

This investment is another interesting move by Discovery that seems to clearly have understood that the future of entertainment and education (lifelong, informal and formal) lies on the Internet. Earlier this year Discovery acquired Revision3, one of the first web-based video startups that was founded by Jay Adelson, David Prager and Kevin Rose in 2005.

The portfolio of web shows spans from gaming over technology to news and entertainment and is targeting the so called YouTube audience which is getting used to receive most (all?) of its information via the video platform instead of classic media like TV or radio.

If you think about it, the Discovery Channel is somewhat the predecessor of today’s way to learn informally. Offering a wide variety of documentaries and educational shows, Discovery kind of laid the groundwork for today’s breed of educational web shows we can find on YouTube.

But back to Grockit and Learnist. The learning community was launched in May 2012 and has seen some significant growth since. The user base grew by 400% and the engagement on the site has doubled according to the press release. Most people describe Learnist as “Pinterest for education” but besides collecting interesting educational and informational content from the web the focus is on creating small lessons and courses similar to what MentorMob or Veri do.

With today’s announcement also comes a redesign of the site which now showcases content curated by expert community members. The categories range from education, technology, science and business to travel, news, politics and a lot more.

If you now think of an interactive overlay for popular shows on the Discovery Channel, a way for the audience to share, learn and connect via the Internet or connected TVs, I think we come pretty close to one of the reasons for this investment. The second screen, which essentially means the iPad at the moment, could be a great device for interacting with your favorite documentary and like-minded casual learners. Very interesting to my mind. From the press release:

“Discovery’s commitment to igniting people’s curiosity and passion for learning is a natural fit with Learnist’s unique knowledge platform and model that encourages passionate audiences to share what they know and learn what they don’t. Discovery is proud to lead this round of financing and excited about the many ways that our strategic investment will help to expand the reach and further development of the Learnist platform.” – JB Perrette, Chief Digital Officer, Discovery Communications

There are also features added to the mobile application of the service today. Watch the video below to learn more about these additions.

Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at KirstenWinkler.com.