I’ll admit it: I was the student who put the teacher away from half our English class, including me, using sparknotes to read “Twelfth Night” by Shakespeare, instead of actually reading the text. The site, which offered summaries of books on a chapter-by-chapter basis, was the best way to review novels before a quiz—or, if you procrastinate too much and are never ready to open a book. If so, he was the best last-minute savior. In the first place.
Considering history, it makes sense that the makers of everyone’s favorite procrastination tool, Sparknotes, are being overseen by an edtech unicorn. Litecharts, an offshoot of Sparknotes, got scooped up today by Course Hero, a newly minted edtech unicorn. The deal price was not disclosed. That said, Course Hero last raised an $80 million Series B in August 2020, and a portion of that check is believed to have gone into the deal.
SparkNotes’ creators, Ben Florman and Justin Kestler, created Litecharts as an extension of their initial success. LitCharts provides notes, definitions and translations on over 2,000 literary texts. Similar to Spark Notes, Litecharts is about making complex passages less complicated. Andrew Grauer, the founder of Course Hero, estimates that about 30% of Litecharts’ clients are teachers and educators.
“We want to make sure we have the best solution for a specific area, and then, at the right time, be able to make a really authentic recommendation of another tool or any other offering that might be helpful to you. [as a student],” Graer said of Course Hero’s long-term ambition. He webbing – or connecting students from one resource to another – could be one of the benefits of virtual learning, as essentially a history of every error would have been logged. which a student stumbles upon during a lesson.
The heart of Course Hero, says Grauer, is to create a question-and-answer platform for students with an extreme level of exclusivity. It sells subscriptions to students that unlock access to all of its teaching and learning materials, including curriculum-specific content created by teachers and publishers. Naturally, a big part of Course Hero’s strategy is to offer material on common topics that students struggle with – English being one of those subjects.
“We are looking at the data on the platform, and where students are really getting stuck the most, where they need the most help, and where they are asking the most questions,” Grauer said. “And it’s quite informative.”
The company has been building its literature library for the last five to six years. With Litecharts under its wing, Course Hero is making a significant investment in its literature library, which is full of videos, illustrations and notes on texts.
This is Corus Hero’s second acquisition in the last eight months. In October, Course Hero acquired SymboLab, an artificial-intelligence-powered calculator that helps students answer and understand complex math questions. That deal helped strengthen Course Hero’s math offering, and today’s acquisition should help Course Hero deepen its literature resources. These two brands will continue to operate independently – a choice that Grauer says is part of his operating thesis of supporting “the decentralized empowerment of entrepreneurs.”
“If you centralize everything, maybe there’s power in that. [since] It all looks the same, but in reality [that too] At times… you can go really slow and not be able to move fast and make decisions and progress toward a goal because you’re optimizing for so many small specific use cases,” he said. Said. The two startups that Course Hero recently acquired have been around for more than a decade, and Grauer thinks their scale and brand power are worth keeping rather than being forced into one umbrella brand .
Across its various platforms, Course Hero estimates it will reach between 2 million and 3 million paid subscribers this year, up from 1 million subscribers a year ago.