EdTech Startup GoGuardian Raises $200 Million, Despite Privacy Concerns

Caitlin Cook
Caitlin Cook is an editorial intern at dot.LA, currently earning her master's degree in mass communication from California State University, Northridge. A devoted multimedia journalist with an interest in both tech and entertainment, Cook also works as a reporter and production assistant for MUSE TV. She got her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Filmmaking from University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
EdTech Startup GoGuardian Raises $200 Million, Despite Privacy Concerns
Courtesy of GoGuardian

Edtech powerhouse GoGuardian nabbed a $200 million strategic investment from Tiger Global Management, making the Los Angeles company an instant unicorn on Thursday.

The software, whose customers include Los Angeles Unified School District and Long Beach Unified School District, saw their user base jump 60% last year as the pandemic drove students online and helped grow the global edtech industry, which is projected to reach $285.2 billion by 2027.

The company's software lets teachers monitor students' activity online during school hours, but it's been heavily criticized by privacy rights advocates that say it goes too far.

Still, it's gained a strong customer base. Since being founded in 2014 as a Chrome extension, GoGuardian is used in over 10,000 U.S. school districts. Their products include web filtering and AI that helps to determine a student's risk for suicidal thoughts or violent behavior.

GoGuardian co-founder and CEO Advait Shinde

"The success we've had to date fuels us to pursue our mission with more energy and ambition than ever before, and Tiger Global's investment significantly expands our future impact in creating empowered and inspired learners," said GoGuardian co-founder and CEO Advait Shinde in a statement. "We are grateful for their partnership and excited for the work ahead."

Tim Green, a professor of educational technology at California State University, Fullerton, said that while large investments like these show great potential for the edtech industry, fads come and go all the time and investors need to approach with caution.

"What I would like to see with investments like this is a concerted commitment to invest in educator professional development and support for educators to effectively use these tools to positively improve student learning," Green added. "And, to the point of positively improving student learning — there is a need to determine whether tools like GoGuardian actually improve student learning and the educational experience."

GoGuardian's rise has met resistance among parents and those concerned about the software's ability to track minors. The ACLU published a report in October 2015 highlighting GoGuardian's use of remote webcam monitoring, keylogging, and more, after which the company disabled these features.

In addition, typing "GoGuardian" into Change.org's search feature pulls up dozens of petitions to disable the software in schools, including one that successfully halted the use of the software in a New Jersey school district earlier this year.

GoGuardian spokesperson Jeff Gordon said that GoGuardian operates in "full compliance with FERPA, COPPA, and other regulations," adding that they have signed the Student Privacy Pledge.

"Ultimately, in order for us to deliver the insights that drive learning outcomes and truly have a positive impact on the educational experience, we have to be good stewards of the student data our customers provide (and which they maintain ownership)," Gordon wrote in an email. "We believe that privacy is an essential part of keeping students safe online."

Gordon said the company will use the new raise for "product innovation, talent acquisition, and business development," but declined to disclose more details.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Rivian Q2 Earnings Are a Much-Needed Nothing Burger

David Shultz

David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

Rivian R1S at a charging station in the desert.
Rivian's Q2 numbers are delightfully boring.

Rivian, the fledgling electric vehicle startup in Irvine, CA, released its Q2 earnings yesterday. I’m happy to report they’re pretty boring! There were no big surprises from RJ Scaringe’s EV hopeful, but here are the report highlights:

  • ~$15 billion of cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash as of June 30 2022.
  • 98,000 net R1 preorders
  • Amazon has ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans
  • Rivian has produced 8k vehicles so far
  • The company is still on pace to deliver 25,000 vehicles in 2022
  • -Actual revenue was $364 million.
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