Kids' app creator Duck Duck Moose is partnering up with Khan Academy to help the non-profit online learning resource develop preschool materials. The start-up's 21 mobile apps for preschoolers are now available for free.
The 9-person Duck Duck Moose team will be creating a new initiative funded by philanthropic support and community donations. The first to donate to the new initiative, with a $3 million grant, is the Omidyar Network.
Duck Duck Moose is technically coming under the Khan Academy wing as a "donation" without being "acquired" due to the details of the deal, reports Sarah Perez of Tech Crunch. Khan's team paid only $1.
Duck Duck Moose Founder Caroline Hu Flexer said:
"We're joining Khan Academy because it's the best way for us to have the largest impact on early learning and children. We're excited to make all of our products free so they can be accessible to children all over the world, regardless of their financial resources."
Khan Academy's founder, Sal Khan, said in a blog post:
"Early childhood learning is a natural next step for Khan Academy. It allows us to reach children at a younger age and begin to have an earlier impact on basic literacy and math skills. We're thrilled to enter early childhood learning with Duck Duck Moose as our partner."
According to Michael Lev-Ram of Fortune, the first project Duck Duck Moose and Khan Academy will work on as a team will be an app that targets the needs of students entering kindergarten.
Despite all the downloads and the 53 app awards, Duck Duck Moose was in "a challenging market" and had trouble finding "ways to be sustainable." They had received acquisition offers from several companies, but Khan Academy was always at the top of their list, reports Tony Wan of EdSurge. Making revenue from paid apps is tough, and the most successful seem to include in-app purchases.
Duck Duck Moose was founded in 2008 by Caroline Hu Flexer (formerly of IDEO), her husband Michael Flexer (who has extensive start-up experience), and designer Nicci Gabriel.
In a blog post on the Duck Duck Moose website, Flexer said:
We created our first app, the Wheels on the Bus, an interactive musical storybook, because it was our daughter's favorite song.
Its 21 apps have been downloaded more than 15 million times.
To develop its apps, the start-up raised $7 million in outside funding from investors like Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Stanford University. Sequoia and Lightspeed also helped make the apps free.
They will remain at their headquarters in San Mateo, California.
Khan Academy is a popular online learning platform used by 100 million people every year. Its resources cover preschool through early college level materials, including subjects such as math, biology, chemistry, physics, economics, finance, history, grammar, and more. With Duck Duck Moose it will be able to expand to children who have yet to enter preschool as well as other early learners.