Education startup 2tor has announced the closure of a $26 million Series D round of funding, led by an affiliate of The Hillman Company, WestRiver Capital and Silicon Valley Bank Capital.
It also includes the participation of its existing investors -- Bessemer Venture Partners, Highland Capital Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Novak Biddle Venture Partners, and City Light Capital.
The four year-old business now has a total investment of just under $97 million -- making it one of the most heavily-financed education startups in the United States.
So what is it about 2tor that has raised such interest?
Online education, despite rising popularity, does not enjoy the same quality reputation as traditional, campus-based degree qualifications. For many, it can be seen as simply a substitute for traditional degrees instead of its equal. A lack of regulation, fake colleges and few universally accepted strictures for online learning have all contributed to this issue.
2tor aims to help change this, by partnering with universities to build, administer and market a new breed of online degree programs. By making the digital equivalent of classroom-based degrees advocated and supported by universities, it is hoped that in the future they will be a stronger contender for higher education student choices.
It focuses on promoting a visual, social and digital educational platform. The web-based infrastructure that 2tor has developed encompasses the means to provide lectures and interactive learning material, mobile support, live webcam classes and 3G/4G networking.
So far, 2tor has partnered with USC's Rossier School of Education for their online Master of Arts in Teaching degree, and several other large academic institutions.
It currently has a staff of over 370, and more than 3000 students are currently enrolled in courses across over 30 different countries.