Oakland-based tech startup LightSide, which has made a name for itself as a writing tool for educators, was acquired by San Francisco-based Turnitin this month.
The good news is LightSide will remain on Craig Street and will continue to build out its research team with the hiring of 25 people by the summer of 2015, says Elijah Mayfield, co-founder.
Turnitin is a leading global provider of plagiarism detection software for education. The company, which serves more than 24 million students in more than 10,000 centers of learning around the world, is looking to expand into the middle and high school market, a sweet spot for LightSide.
The CMU spinout and Project Olympus startup was founded in 2013. LightSide has developed a machine-learning platform to assess student writing. The program assists teachers in grades 6-12 by suggesting revisions that improve student writing.
The assessments are done through LightSide’s Revision Assistant, which analyzes an assignment and highlights both positive and specific constructive comments on ways it might be improved based on a rubric.
The platform takes a comprehensive approach and is not a grammar checker. Teachers are still the ultimate authority in the process.
“LightSide is a great fit, and the combined product (with Turnitin) will be even better,” says Mayfield.
While LightSide hasn’t raised any venture funding, it received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Dept. of Education and small business innovation research grants.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“We’ll be taking on a key role in directing their product roadmap towards better classroom tools to support writing, using the algorithms and research that we’ve developed in the last year and a half since we left Carnegie Mellon,” says Mayfield.