Today, I’m thrilled to share that littleBits has acquired DIY, an incredible SF-based tech startup that’s cultivated one of the largest and most active online communities of kids!
I’m so excited. I’ve always been a fan of DIY’s mission, so when I learned that DIY co-founder Zach Klein was seeking to grow further, I jumped on the opportunity to bring our companies together. For those that may not be familiar, DIY has two really special offerings; together, DIY.org and JAM.com are helping kids to develop future skills.
- DIY.org is a free, kid-only community with more than 1.5 million projects uploaded by kids in subjects such as astronomy, pizza making, and woodworking
- JAM.com is the largest paid subscription STEAM course platform for kids with curated and highly produced courses by star mentors such as Lauren May, who runs Drawing Bootcamp, and Charlie Engelman, with Mad Science
The littleBits team also has plenty of DIY super fans. Both companies started around the same time, and we would frequently look to DIY as an example of a brand that was aesthetically beautiful, spoke respectfully to kids, and empowered kids coming from all interests and backgrounds. We even partnered with DIY several years ago to develop a “Bitster” skill and saw hundreds of kids upload projects they made such as a lighted windmill, a bike helmet, and even a motion-sensing tree topper for the holidays. Below is just a snapshot of our favorites.
Let me take you through why we did this acquisition and what’s in store for the future.
From a business perspective: This is a big move for littleBits as a company, and is a testament to our continued growth. Over the past seven years, we have proven that learning through play is a huge market. We have engaged millions of kids and tens of thousands of schools across 70 countries. We have worked with huge media partners (Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm) as well as leading education partners (Google Edu, Pearson). But we want to grow bigger and faster and so we are continuously innovating on our business model.
If you’ve spent more than one day in Silicon Valley lately you know “Content is King;” well I think content can be king, but content plus hardware plus community is the royal flush… (I don’t play poker but I figure a poker analogy is better than a monarchy one!). littleBits’ acquisition of DIY marks the next step in our evolution from a hardware-focused company to a technology company that leverages hardware, content streaming, and an online community to reinvent the way kids learn and empower them to become tomorrow’s changemakers.
From a product perspective: Our products are driven by our mission, and littleBits is constantly making sure we are fulfilling our mission with our offerings. Over the last year we have realized learning is a journey. Hardware is just the start, and new inspiration and skills have to be added all the time. DIY developed JAM.com as a perfect platform for courseware that speaks to kids in a language that they understand and love: video. In that way, DIY’s products and team have become an an important piece of littleBits’ ongoing engagement strategy — ensuring that kids are having fun and expanding their creative skills throughout their learning journey.
From a mission perspective: I have been a fan of Zach Klein for a while. He is a serial entrepreneur (co-founder of Vimeo) a design leader (Kleiner Perkins Design Fellow), and an active investor/advisor with Cartoon Network, Skillshare, and Dwell — all companies I respect for their innovation and positive impact on culture. But more importantly, Zach and his team approach their work with a similar ethos and inspiration as the littleBits team does: leading with a strong point of view, a humility to iterate until they succeed, and a great design sense to bring their ideas to life. Zach co-founded DIY in 2011 because he felt a personal calling to build a company that would become a symbol of childhood. The DIY team believes — as littleBits does — in the power of play. They believe that creativity is as essential as literacy, and should be treated with the same status.
The world is changing dramatically around us: parents are nervous about how to prepare their kids for a future we don’t understand, schools are struggling to keep up with new requirements and technology, and kids are spending countless hours on platforms like YouTube and driving their parents crazy. With DIY we have an opportunity to turn these pain points into prime learning opportunities, and help kids create amazing friendships too.
Over the next weeks and months you’ll hear more about new products and initiatives we are launching (get on the waitlist for the first one here!). Stay tuned to see how we’re reinventing the way kids learn: at home, at school, and everywhere in between!
Founder and CEO, littleBits
P.S. Want to know more? Take a look at this press release we distributed today for more detail.