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Originally published April 20, 2010 at 5:04 PM | Page modified April 21, 2010 at 2:19 PM

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Brier Dudley

Netflix founder sees hit in DreamBox

Online-education startup DreamBox has been sold to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and a nonprofit venture fund, Hastings announced at an education conference in Arizona on Tuesday.

Seattle Times staff columnist

Online-education startup DreamBox has been sold to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and a nonprofit venture fund, Hastings announced at an education conference in Arizona on Tuesday.

Hastings has had pretty good luck selling monthly subscriptions for video entertainment.

The sale price wasn't disclosed, but the investors said they're putting in an additional $10 million "to expedite the company's aggressive growth strategy to significantly increase its footprint in U.S. schools with the development of new e-learning content across a variety of core disciplines, as well as ongoing technology advancements to the DreamBox Learning Platform."

DreamBox, which provides online math education for a monthly fee, was started in 2006 by former Microsoft executive Ben Slivka and Lou Gray, former president of UIEvolution. They launched it with $7.1 million from angel investors and began selling its $13-a-month elementary-education program last year, with the initial offerings aimed at kindergartners through third-graders.

Both Slivka and Gray have now stepped aside. Hastings took on Slivka's role as chairman, and the investors are going to search for a chief executive to replace Gray.

Meanwhile, DreamBox will be led by the remaining executives — Sarah Daniels, marketing vice president, and Daniel Kerns, vice president of product development.

DreamBox has 18 employees and will remain in Bellevue, a spokeswoman said.

Hastings, a Microsoft board member, said his goal is "to fuel the movement of e-learning and help millions of students."

"I have evaluated many companies in the K-12 e-learning marketplace and DreamBox Learning clearly stood out," he said. "They have already shown strong results in a short period of time, and the DreamBox Learning Platform has the best underlying adaptive technology, giving every student the opportunity to thrive through innovative online learning," Hastings said in a news release.

The other investor, Broomfield, Colo.-based Charter School Growth Fund, is led by Kevin Hall, a co-founder of charter-school operator Chancellor Beacon Academies.

Brier Dudley: 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com.

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About Brier Dudley

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.
bdudley@seattletimes.com | 206-515-5687

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