DreamBox, an Edtech Startup with High-Profile Backers, Snags $130M

[Updated 5:35 p.m. See below.] DreamBox Learning, an edtech company that makes programs that help kids learn math, has agreed to take a $130 million investment from a fund managed by private equity firm TPG Growth.

The Rise Fund, which is deploying $2 billion in financing raised by TPG last year, is taking a majority position in DreamBox, a startup that was founded in Bellevue, WA, in 2006. DreamBox plans to use the new money on product development, sales, marketing, other operations, and to draw in more users. The company says 3 million students and 120,000 teachers in the U.S. and Canada currently use the product, and that it recently added a Spanish-language version in Mexico.

DreamBox makes online tools and games, as well as apps, to teach students from kindergarten through eighth grade math lessons and concepts. It does so while adapting to state-specific standards and curriculums, it personalizes the lessons for the students, and it provides data analytics and reporting for the instructors, according to the company.

It is the largest education investment for The Rise Fund, which aims to fund businesses that have a social or environmental impact. Other investments include Washington, DC-based edtech company EverFi and Brava Home, a Redwood City, CA-based company that makes an energy efficient oven. The firm is itself notable for the high-profile names associated with it: Among the people involved with The Rise Fund’s board when it was founded include e-Bay (NASDAQ: EBAY) founder Pierre Omidyar, Richard Branson, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Bono.

DreamBox already has experience with high-profile people. In 2010, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings and the Charter School Growth Fund invested in the business. The Charter Fund, a nonprofit venture firm, became the primary shareholder and Hastings involvement has been primarily philanthropic, according to a spokesperson. Terms weren’t disclosed, but the deal included a $10 million investment, Xconomy reported at the time. Of that initial investment, $9 million was from Hastings, the spokesperson said. DreamBox received a $14.5 million Series A1 round of funding in 2013, which Hastings led. [Updated to clarify Hastings’ positionwith the company, his ownership of it, and relationship to the Charter School Fund.]

Hastings was initially chairman of the company, Xconomy reported, but later handed that title to Jessie Woolley-Wilson when she was hired as president and CEO in 2010. (Fast Company has a little more on Woolley-Wilson’s background from an interview with her.)

With the investment from The Rise Fund, Hastings will no longer be a member of the company’s board of directors, according to the spokesperson.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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