Roku acquires Quibi’s content

Quibi is dead, but its shows will live on.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Roku was in talks to acquire the short-form video service’s content. And this morning, Roku announced that it has indeed reached a deal for the exclusive distribution rights to all of Quibi’s programs.
Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Roku said it will make this content available for free with ads on The Roku Channel. That doesn’t just include the shows that were previously available on Quibi, but also “more than a dozen” programs making “their exclusive debut on The Roku Channel” — in other words, they were created for the service but unreleased due to the app’s shutdown.
“Today’s announcement marks a rare opportunity to acquire compelling original content that features some of the biggest names in entertainment,” said Roku’s vice president of programming Rob Holmes in a statement. “We’re excited to make this


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Onit acquires legal startup McCarthyFinch to inject AI into legal workflows

Onit, a workflow software company based in Houston with a legal component, announced this week that it has acquired 2018 TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield alum McCarthyFinch.  Onit intends to use the startup’s AI skills to beef up its legal workflow software offerings.
The companies did not share the purchase price.
After evaluating a number of companies in the space, Onit focused on McCarthyFinch, which gives it an artificial intelligence component the company’s legal workflow software had been lacking. “We evaluated about a dozen companies in the AI space and dug in deep on six of them. McCarthyFinch stood out from the pack. They had the strongest technology and the strongest team,” Eric M. Elfman, CEO and co-founder of Onit told TechCrunch.
The company intends to inject that AI into its existing Aptitude workflow platform.”Part of what really got me excited about McCarthyFinch was the very first conversation I had with their CEO, Nick Whitehouse.


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Quizlet valued at $1 billion as it raises millions during a global pandemic

As millions of students and teachers shift to learn from home in response to the novel coronavirus disease, modern-day flashcard business Quizlet has raised $30 million in a Series C round led by General Atlantic.
Quizlet’s chief executive officer Matthew Glotzbach said that the new funding values the business at $1 billion, up five times from its last funding round in 2018. Quizlet’s total known financing is more than $60 million.

4 edtech CEOs peer into the industry’s future

The fresh funding comes off the heels of unprecedented usage for Quizlet, which connects students to virtual flashcards and study guides. Once a user makes a guide, they can share a unique link with friends and collaborate ahead of a test. School shutdowns due to COVID-19 have caused students to flock to the platform as they look for new ways to study, retain information and collaborate.
Students ask over 1 billion questions on Quizlet each


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Edtech startups prepare to become ‘not just a teaching tool but a necessity’

As Stanford, Princeton, Columbia and others shutter classrooms to limit the coronavirus outbreak, college educators around the country are clambering to move their classes online. 
At the same time, tech companies that enable remote learning are finding a surge in usage and signups. Zoom Video Communications, a videoconferencing company, has been crushing it in the stock market, and Duolingo, a language teaching app, has had 100% user growth in the past month in China, citing school closures as one factor. 
But Kristin Lynn Sainani, an associate professor of epidemiology and population health at Stanford, has a fair warning to those making the shift: Scrappiness has its setbacks. 
“[The transition to online] is not going to be well-planned when you’re doing it to get your class done tomorrow,” said Sainani, who has been teaching online classes since 2013. “At this point, professors are going to scramble to do the best they can.”
As the outbreak


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Lawyers hate timekeeping. Ping raises $13M to fix it with AI

Counting billable time in six minute increments is the most annoying part of being a lawyer. It’s a distracting waste. It leads law firms to conservatively under-bill. And it leaves lawyers stuck manually filling out timesheets after a long day when they want to go home to their families.
Life is already short, as Ping CEO and co-founder Ryan Alshak knows too well. The former lawyer spent years caring for his mother as she battled a brain tumor before her passing. “One minute laughing with her was worth a million doing anything else” he tells me. “I became obsessed with the idea that we spend too much of our lives on things we have no need to do — especially at work.”
That’s motivated him as he’s built his startup Ping, which uses artificial intelligence to automatically track lawyers’ work and fill out timesheets for them. There’s a massive opportunity to


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Actor and HitRecord founder Joseph Gordon-Levitt says we should all get off YouTube

The multi-hyphenate actor-director-entrepreneur, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (best known for roles in “3rd Rock from the Sun,” “Inception,” “Snowden” and “10 Things I Hate About You,”) came to TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2019 this morning to talk about his startup, the collaborative media platform HitRecord.
Specifically, he addressed how HitRecord differs from other platforms for creators. In doing so, he also called out the YouTube business model as problematic and something we should all get away from. 
The comments around YouTube followed a discussion of some of the criticism HitRecord’s platform has faced — namely, that it doesn’t offer high enough payouts or a way for creatives to make a living.
Since 2010, it has only paid out some $3 million dollars to its creators.
Gordon-Levitt said that HitRecord doesn’t emphasize that you’ll gain entry into the creative industry by using its platform, nor does it market itself as something you can turn into a full-time


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Why is Dropbox reinventing itself?

According to Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, 80% of the product’s users rely on it, at least partially, for work.
It makes sense, then, that the company is refocusing to try and cement its spot in the workplace; to shed its image as “just” a file storage company (in a time when just about every big company has its own cloud storage offering) and evolve into something more immutably core to daily operations.
Earlier this week, Dropbox announced that the “new Dropbox” would be rolling out to all users. It takes the simple, shared folders that Dropbox is known for and turns them into what the company calls “Spaces” — little mini collaboration hubs for your team, complete with comment streams, AI for highlighting files you might need mid-meeting, and integrations into things like Slack, Trello and G Suite. With an overhauled interface that brings much of Dropbox’s functionality out of the OS


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OpenGov raises $51M to boost its cloud-based IT services for government and civic organizations

OpenGov, the firm co-founded by Palantir’s Joe Lonsdale that helps government and other civic organizations organise, analyse and present financial and other data using cloud-based architecture, has raised another big round of funding to continue expanding its business. The startup has picked up an additional $51 million in a Series D round led by Weatherford Capital and 8VC (Lonsdale’s investment firm), with participation from existing investor Andreessen Horowitz.
The funding brings the total raised by the company to $140 million, with previous investors in the firm including JC2 Ventures, Emerson Collective, Founders Fund and a number of others. The company is not disclosing its valuation — although we are asking — but for some context, PitchBook noted it was around $190 million in its last disclosed round — although that was in 2017 and has likely increased in the interim, not least because of the startup’s links in high places, and


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MasterClass founder launches Outlier, offering online courses for college credit

Aaron Rasmussen, co-founder and former creative director of MasterClass, has a new startup called Outlier.org. Like MasterClass, Outlier is bringing education online, but with a key difference — these are college classes offering real college credit.
The startup is launching a pilot version of its first two courses, Calculus I and Introduction to Psychology, for the coming fall semester. Each course is available for $400. (That covers all costs, including textbooks.)
Despite the .org name and address, Rasmussen said Outlier is very much a for-profit company, but he added, “We do want to make it clear that our goal is social impact. I believe in market solutions to problems. Coming up with a market solution to education, rather just relying on people’s charity, is far more durable.”
The problem in question is the cost of higher education. Rasmussen said that each year, 1 million students take a college-level Calculus I course in the United


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