A study app used by half of U.S. high-school students, Quizlet, is getting a back-to-school makeover.
The changes represent a turning point for the 11-year-old tech venture and its new CEO, Matthew Glotzbach.
A former vice president of product management with YouTube, Glotzbach wants to grow Quizlet from more than 20 million monthly active users, some 80 percent of them in the United States, to 1 billion or more users across the globe in coming years.
That's a hefty ambition for an app focused on learning. It took Facebook four years to reach 100 million users, and 8.7 years to reach 1 billion users. But that's a general interest social network. There are only about 1.5 billion students in primary, secondary and higher education schools globally.
Quizlet has money in the bank to help reach its goal. After nine years of bootstrapping (running on its own revenue and credit lines), it raised $12 million in venture capital in late 2015. The round was co-led by Union Square Ventures, a firm that also placed early bets on Zynga, Twitter, Twilio and other tech start-ups that ultimately went public or were acquired for more than $1 billion.
Still flush with capital, Quizlet hired Glotzbach last spring to help it expand with founder Andrew Sutherland moving into the role of CTO. The two often collaborate, Glotzbach told CNBC, including by hosting quarterly internal hackathons where employees cook up potential new features to build into the app.
Quizlet, which started as a simple online flashcard builder, now includes seven study modes. Among other things, users can create digital flashcards, matching games and games that can be used to get students playing quiz show-style games in the classroom.
Additions to the platform for the new school year include Quizlet Diagrams, allowing students to upload images and pin information to them. The new feature could prove handy for students of subjects heavy on visuals like geography, anatomy and architecture.