Kno CEO Osman Rashid started his company with a lofty goal: to change how people are educated by changing the way students study and interact with textbooks. The company started out making its own tablets, then changed to focus on software as the iPad and other competitors emerged. And though it began only focusing on college textbooks, it's made a major expansion into the K-12 market.
Kno turns old-fashioned educational textbooks into interactive learning experiences. Adding links, multimedia and features like flashcards and quizzes, Kno already offers a powerful experience for students. Of course there are tools for adding notes, comments and such, but each student also has their own account, so those annotations and highlights are available across devices through Kno Cloud.
Kno Me, launching today, adds a slew of metrics to help students see how much they are studying and can compare those stats to other students. That might sound a little crazy, but it's really quite useful for students to see how much time they've spent reading, using flashcards and more.
Naveen's Interaction With Kno
In a big leap into a new but adjacent market, Silicon Valley digital education start-up Kno said it is entering the K-12 space, expanding from its college-only focus. Its first step will be a partnership with major textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which provides nearly half of such content aimed at children from kindergarten through high school. Enhanced digital versions of those textbooks cost $9.99 or less (Kno gets a piece of each sale) and can be used via an Apple iPad app and also on the Web. Kno said its platform will also be available soon on Google Android and Microsoft Windows 7.
As students start going back to college, they are downloading Kno's new Textbooks app for the iPad in droves. It is currently the No. 1 iPad education app, No. 2 grossing iPad app overall, and a top-25 free app (more popular than even the Kindle iPad app). The app is being downloaded once every 8 seconds. The map above depicts downloads over the past 24 hours.
“We are not trying to redefine the textbook,” Kno CEO Osman Rashid tells me, “we are trying to redefine how you learn.” Today, Kno is taking a big steps towards making digital textbooks more social by making 100,000 college textbooks available both on its Website and on Facebook. The Textbooks for Facebook app and site will present the books via an HTML5 reader. So students who buy a book via Kno's iPad app, can now read them online or on Facebook. They can post study questions and comments to their news feeds, with an eye towards creating full-fledged study groups down the line.
Last night, Kno quietly released its first digital textbook app for the iPad. It includes its own store of “over 70,000 titles at 30% to 50% off list” price. And the app is a full textbook reader.
Received $2.5M Series C Funding
Participation GSV Capital
Take a good look at the Kno textbook tablet at left because you might not ever see it again. Kno is getting out of the hardware business and, as reported earlier, taking another $30 million from Intel Capital, Advance Publications (owner of Conde Nast), and its previous investors (Andreessen Horowitz, Floodgate, First Round, and SV Angel). The company is now confirming the reports. CEO Osman Rashid puts it to me this way: “We have accelerated our 2012 strategy to 2011. Our long-term plan was always to support multiple platforms."
Take a good look at the Kno textbook tablet at left because you might not ever see it again. Kno is getting out of the hardware business and, as reported earlier, taking another $30 million from Intel Capital, Advance Publications (owner of Conde Nast), and its previous investors (Andreessen Horowitz, Floodgate, First Round, and SV Angel). The company is now confirming the reports. CEO Osman Rashid puts it to me this way: “We have accelerated our 2012 strategy to 2011. Our long-term plan was always to support multiple platforms.”
Received $30M Series C Funding
Participation Intel Capital, Advance Publications, Andreessen Horowitz, FLOODGATE, First Round Capital, SV Angel
The Kno is a clever single or dual-screen 14.1-inch tablet aimed at the education market. The Kno was even nominated to the 2010 Crunchies for Best New Device. But the company needs to get the word out and so are turning to their potential customers for help.
You probably remember the Kno, either from the original announcement or the demo at TechCrunch Disrupt. The monster 14.1 inch screens set it apart from every other tablet on the market, and the customized Ubuntu OS makes it potentially more versatile as well. The impressive technical specs had me doubting whether this device would ever actually see the light of day, or just languish in development hell until the funding ran out.
When textbook tablet startup Kno raised $46 million in September from Andreessen Horowitz and Silicon Valley Bank, it was shooting to price its dual-screen tablet at under $1,000. On Tuesday, it will announce the pricing of its tablets at $899 for the dual-screen version and $599 for the single-screen version. It will also start taking limited pre-orders for shipping before the end of the year.
Most of the companies that hope to take on Apple in the white-hot market for tablets are industry giants like Dell, Google, HP, Microsoft and Samsung. But among the startups looking to become tablet contenders, Kno stands out.
Marc Andreessen is normally enthusiastic about the startups he's invested in. Still, when I spoke to him last week about Kno, he surprised me by saying it will be “the most powerful tablet anyone has ever made.” And he's backing up that claim with a new investment – Andreessen Horowitz has put even more capital into the company as part of a new $46 million debt and equity round. Silicon Valley Bank and TriplePoint Capital also invested in the round. Kno has now raised over $55 million.
Received $26.8M Series B Funding
Participation Andreessen Horowitz, Silicon Valley Bank, TriplePoint Capital
The success of the Kindle and iPad has sparked a slew of tablet-wannabes. Some are imitators, while others are trying to bring new ideas to the tablet and e-reader concepts.
Recently, BoomTown uncloaked one of Silicon Valley's hotter “stealth” start-ups, called Kakai. My take: An advanced tablet device and related service aimed at students. Today, Kakai is taking another step out of the shadows by changing its name to Kno, which is short for knowledge.
It's not often that you hear about a startup still in deep stealth that has over 40 employees and backing from some of the biggest names in the valley. But that's exactly the case for Santa Clara-based Kakai, which was founded in May by Chegg founder Osman Rashid. The company has recently closed a $7.5 million Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Josh Kopelman (First Round) and Ron Conway. Marc Andreessen will be joining Kakai's board. This brings Kakai's total funding to $9.35 million, after a $1.85 million Series A earlier this year led by Rashid himself and Mike Maples.
Received $7.5M Series A Funding
Participation Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Ron Conway
Received $1.85M Angel Funding
Participation Osman Rashid, FLOODGATE