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Venture Capital News: zyBooks Grabs $4M Investment

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Leading provider of interactive digital learning products for the rapidly growing higher education announced a $4 million investment.
zyBooks (, the leading provider of interactive digital learning products for the rapidly growing higher education STEM (Science, Technology Engineering & Math) market, announced a $4 million investment round led by Bialla Venture Partners, LLC. In conjunction with the funding, managing member of Bialla Venture Partners, David Uri, will join the company's Board of Directors.

This latest investment follows recent grants from the National Science Foundation's SBIR program awarded for research and development of the zyBooks platform. The funding will support significant content expansion into additional STEM zyBooks, new product features for both instructors and students, and new sales and marketing initiatives.

zyBooks are Web-native, interactive learning tools in STEM courses, with which students 'learn by doing' in a highly engaging, action-oriented way. In contrast to traditional textbooks, content features more question sets, animations, interactive tools, and auto-graded homework, enabling professors to be more efficient and devote more time to teaching rather than administrative tasks.

'zyBooks has already shown that its innovative approach creates dramatically better learning outcomes for students - with proven results of up to 64 percent improvement in learning with a zyBook versus a traditional textbook - while empowering instructors with easy to use tools that save time and administrative hassle,' said Uri. 'We believe the company's expertise in transforming traditional text-based learning into measurably better and more efficient interactive learning programs sets the stage for zyBooks to become the new standard for STEM curriculum across all higher education. It's a win/win for both professors and students alike.'

zyBooks was founded by Computer Science & Engineering Professor Frank Vahid of the University of California at Riverside and former UC Davis Assistant Professor CEO Smita Bakshi, to address the many deficiencies and challenges that exist in traditional college textbook-based learning.

'Particularly in the age of the Internet and interactivity, traditional textbooks - often unchanged for decades - are increasingly at odds with today's students and professors alike. Simply migrating such textbooks to online formats provides few benefits and several drawbacks, and add-on interactive elements often are not well integrated,' said Vahid. 'zyBooks' interactive content is created natively for the Web using animations, learning questions, tools and simulations, as well as some text and figures. Measurable results demonstrate more usage, better learning outcomes and happier students. The direct relationship between students and content creators also reduces costs and enables a tight content feedback/improvement loop.'

As an early example of how the new funding will be used, zyBooks has announced several new STEM course products including the first-ever interactive version of the seminal computer science textbook classic - Patterson & Hennessy's, 'Computer Organization and Design', as well as a revolutionary interactive auto-graded programming lab submission system called zyLabs, which will be launched at the SIGCSE conference in March 2016.

'With the investment by Bialla Venture Partners and the National Science Foundation awards, we're excited to be able to expand into more STEM courses while adding important new product features to help professors manage their teaching time and efficacy, while also helping students learn more effectively,' said Bakshi.

Gunderson Dettmer served as the legal advisor to zyBooks in connection with the transaction. For more information visit

About zyBooks

zyBooks was founded in in 2012 by Smita Bakshi, a former UC Davis Electrical Computer Engineering professor, and Frank Vahid, a Computer Science and Engineering professor at the University of California, Riverside. Its mission is to help college STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) students graduate. zyBooks web-based STEM material focuses mainly on computer science and engineering. Students learn by doing using materials with minimal text, question sets, animations, interactive tools, and embedded homework. zyBooks are collaboratively authored by talented teams of professors, content developers and software engineers. Academic contributors include Roman Lysecky (University of Arizona), Sandy Irani (UC Irvine), and Andre Knoesen and Raj Amirtharajah (UC Davis). Since its founding zyBooks, adoption has grown to more than 300 universities across the U.S. with more than 80,000 students having taken college courses using zyBooks instead of traditional college textbooks. There are currently 16 zyBooks spanning a range of computer science, math and engineering courses, and the company is aggressively expanding the library to provide comprehensive coverage across the STEM curriculum.
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