Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is making his first known investment in a startup, a firm called Panorama Education that uses data analysis to attempt to improve education.
The Cambridge, Mass.-based Panorama announced Monday that it raised $4 million in seed funding led by Zuckerberg’s Startup: Education fund. Other investors include Jeff Clavier’s SoftTech VC, Google Ventures, Ashton Kutcher‘s A-Grade Investments and Yale University.
Panorama claims to be the only company providing a survey and analytics platform specifically designed for K-12 schools. The company applies “data-driven solutions” to educational issues. The platform is being used in more than 4,000 schools serving more than 1 million students.
Aaron Feuer co-founded the company while still an undergrad at Yale. “Our schools weren’t using feedback from teachers, parents, and students effectively,” he said in the press release. “There was a missed opportunity to understand everyone’s experiences and learn what wasn’t working. This data is extremely important when addressing issues such as parent involvement, bullying prevention, school safety and student engagement.”
TextTeaser is a service that creates tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) summaries for lengthly online articles. Available as a Web service and API on Mashape, TextTeaser’s developers also want to turn it into the “imgur of text summarization” by making a platform for users to upload summaries of their favorite articles. The service was created by Jolo Balbin as part of his graduate research.
Balbin programmed the adaptive algorithm that powers TextTeaser while working on his Masters degree in computer science at De La Salle University in Manila. Now a data scientist at job-matching site Bright.com, Balbin maintains TextTeaser with fellow programmer Ben Sarmiento. Balbin claims TextTeaser, which can summarize articles in any language written using the Roman alphabet, is more accurate than text summarization tools Cruxbot and Summly (which was purchased in March 2013 by Yahoo for a reported $30 million).
The bullet-pointed summaries created by TextTeaser can be shared as a link or image or embedded as HTML.
Upstart software companies have the odds stacked against them, but every so often, their timing is perfect–even if the product isn’t.
If you’ve been in the tech industry for a while, you occasionally feel history repeating itself. New computing paradigms (like the smartphone, for example) have typically been extinction events for the software leaders on whatever was the formerly dominant platform. The big three app leaders in MS-DOS–Lotus, WordPerfect, and Borland–were all crippled by the transition to Windows. The Windows leaders, in turn, were unable to make themselves dominant in the world of web apps. Now mobile is the new paradigm, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that mobile-first app companies lead most sales categories.