Cisco adopts Utah's Instructure education software, adding 1 million students

Published: Friday, June 15 2012 8:13 a.m. MDT

Josh Coates is the CEO of Instructure, an education software company based in Sandy. Instructure, the Sandy-based education software maker, will add a million students to its Canvas product after Cisco Systems Inc. agreed to use the platform for its Networking Academy.

Instructure

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Instructure, the Sandy-based education software maker, will add a million students to its Canvas product after Cisco Systems Inc. agreed to use the platform for its Networking Academy.

The multi-year deal will help Instructure grow its learning management system software from 2.9 million registered users, said Chief Executive Officer Josh Coates. Cisco's Networking Academy is part of the company's social responsibility program, helping to teach introductory information technology skills to people in 165 countries in 17 languages. Both companies declined to release the financial terms.

"We had a vision to deliver education over the internet," said Amy Christen, Cisco's vice president of corporate affairs, in a telephone interview. When Cisco first launched its education offering, it built its own software to help students and faculty interact. Ten years later the company decided to use Instructure's technology so it can spend more resources on innovating in other education areas including interactive assessments, gaming and simulations, Christen said.

The Cisco deal is the largest for Instructure, which has signed up 189 other groups in the past 18 months that range from K-12 grade schools to universities.

"If there is teaching going on there is a place for Canvas," Coates said in an interview on the sidelines of his company's InstructureCon in Park City yesterday where about 600 customers and user discussed education software.

Schools can use the Canvas platform to bring assignments, quizzes, grading and information online. Students, for example, can track when coursework is due and take homework quizzes online. Later this year the company will offer co-enrollment so parents of K-12 aged students can track their children's progress. Grade schools make up 25 percent of its customers. In Utah 16 higher education institutions use the company's product. The cloud-based software means schools won't need to physically update the product when new releases are published.

Instructure is growing rapidly since the company was founded in 2008 by Brian Whitmer and Devlin Dailey, two computer science graduates from BYU. Coates was an early investor in Instructure and became the company's CEO in 2010. Previously Coates founded Scale Eight, which developed computer storage software, and later founded Mozy.com, an online computer backup company, which was sold to EMC Corp. for $76 million in 2007.

"We're not educators, we're technologists," Coates said in a previous interview at the company's headquarters.

Instructure plans to add 65 more employees this year, bringing its total to 200, Coates said. There are still "infinite openings in engineering," he said.

The growth is attracting investor attention. At least two to three investors reach out each week, Coates said. The company will likely raise more money this year either through debt, internal investors or outside capital, he said. Current investors include OpenView Venture Partners and TomorrowVentures.

jburke@deseretdigital.com

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