Microsoft buys educational social video startup Flipgrid

June 20, 2018 12:45
Flipgrid is a video discussion platform that allows teachers to create a visual “grid” for a classroom with one or more topics, and students to respond with short videos. Photo: Flipgrid

Microsoft announced it has acquired Flipgrid, an education startup behind the video discussion platform used by more than 20 million teachers and students around the world, TechCrunch reports.

Dubbed as "Instagram and Snapchat for the classroom", the video discussion platform allows students to record and share videos on specific topics with their classmates, creating collaborative lesson plans.

Similar to creating a YouTube reaction video to a particular subject or news, Flipgrid allows teachers to create a visual “grid” for a classroom with one or more topics, and students to respond with short videos using their browsers, tablets or smartphones at home or in the classroom.

Founded in 2015, the Minneapolis-based startup, with 24 employees listed on LinkedIn, announced an 800 percent year-over-year growth in teacher accounts early last year.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. And it is unclear how Flipgrid will fit into Microsoft’s overall education technology portfolio, though the company has integrated the app into the offerings of “Office 365 for Education”.

The app will be made free for schools, and any customers who already have subscriptions will now receive a prorated refund. Those subscriptions ranged in price from US$65 per year for an individual educator to US$1,000 a year for a school.

“We’re thrilled to see the impact Flipgrid has had in social learning thus far and look forward to helping them continue to thrive as part of the Microsoft family,” said Eran Megiddo, corporate vice president at Microsoft, in the announcement.

The educational platform will retain its brand and team at the software maker, and continue to support multiple operating systems, according to the announcement. And it has paid to use Amazon Web Services cloud, which competes with Microsoft's own Azure, CNBC reported.

TechCrunch notes that the acquisition can be seen as Microsoft’s move to win share in the education market, which is currently dominated by Google and its Chromebook category.

According to data from consulting firm Futuresource, in the United States, about 60 percent of all mobile personal computing devices shipped to K-12 schools in the fourth quarter last year were Chromebooks, and the percentage of those using Windows is less than 26 percent. (K-12 refers to the kindergarten and the first through the 12th-grade schools.)

Last May, Microsoft hit back by offering new Windows 10 and Windows 10S devices that are priced from just US$189.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 20

Translation by Ben Ng with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal