San Diego's TakeLessons Nets Betterfly, Boosts Web Learning Platform

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TakeLessons CEO Steven Cox is thinking like Amazon.

After starting the San Diego Web company eight years ago as an online marketplace that connects certified music instructors to students, TakeLessons says today it has completed its first acquisition—of Chicago-based Betterfly.

As Cox told me by phone yesterday, TakeLessons is following a strategy similar to the way Amazon began as an online bookseller, and expanded into selling CDs, DVDs, and other related retail categories. The Betterfly deal will help TakeLessons expand from its core markets in music lessons, performing arts, and academic tutoring into related categories of online learning, such as arts and crafts, beauty and hairstyling, public speaking, resume writing, and personal life coaching.

Financial terms of the buyout were not disclosed, but Betterfly has raised close to $5 million in venture funding, Cox said. At least $2.5 million came from Chicago-based Lightbank, according to CrunchBase.

“What they wanted to do was help people learn over the Internet,” Cox said. “They were very spread out, and were offering lessons in everything from learning to write HTML to genealogy, health, yoga, food, nutrition, diet, and cooking.”

TakeLessons logo 2014The deal also offered a way for TakeLessons to acquire hundreds of thousands of students and teachers. With the addition of Betterfly’s customer database, TakeLessons says it now serves more than 500,000 students in over 4,000 cities throughout the United States.

Cox said he was focused on Betterfly’s database and associated technology; Betterfly’s five employees will not be joining TakeLessons. Both companies focused primarily on DIY lessons, hobbyists, and other types of non-academic learning.

“Our users are [just] curious,” Cox said. “They’re more like hobbyists who are interested in learning things that … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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