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First Round leads $1.75M round in Schoolfeed

Founder of RockYou's new start-up, with 7M members, announces funding; readies for new round

Financial trends and news by Bambi Francisco Roizen
February 8, 2012 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/2431

Like most people, every so often I get friend requests from people in my past. And, while I don't mind "friending" them, I'm not the type to reminisce. I didn't even go to my class reunions. It's not that I don't want to "friend" old friends. It's just I can't keep up with my ever-growing family, friends and colleagues. It's bad enough that at eight months pregnant, I have to keep to-do lists for everything I do, including emailing back a friend. 

Needless to say, some people like finding old pals and remembering the "good old" days. And, believe it or not, if you're over 36 years old, Facebook isn't the best place to find old friends, like those you went to high school with.

That's where Schoolfeed comes in. Schoolfeed is Lance Tokuda's new start-up, which launched a year ago and actually received funding around the same time. It's only today, however, that Lance and his team decided to announce the amount of capital and from whom they received it from.

Schoolfeed announced Wednesday that it's received $1.75 million in seed funding from First Round Capital, Interwest, Crosslink, SK Telekom, Charles River and XG Ventures

"We've been busy developing the site," said Tokuda, in an interview with me, when I asked why he was announcing the funding a year later. It's probably because Tokuda has already had a lot of buzz around him. Tokuda founded RockYou in 2006 and helped raise $130 million in funding for the social gaming platform. He left in late 2010 to start his new gig.

Additionally, Schoolfeed is getting ready to raise a new round of funding, said Tokuda.

Launched in July 2011, Schoolfeed has been leveraging Facebook Connect to fuel its membership, which today stands at seven million users. People use Schoolfeed to connect and find high school friends. Despite Facebook's beginnings as a place for people to find college classmates, and then high school friends, the social network isn't useful for people who are in their mid-30's, said Tokuda. 

"Most of these people are disconnected from their classmates," he said, adding that about 70% of the members are between 35 and 55 years old. Based on a sample set, Schoolfeed found that more than half of this demographic could be part of a class that has 100 or more students on Facebook. But only 2% are connected to those 100.

To this end, Schoolfeed's service is specifically designed for people to search their class and yearbooks. A new feature launched last week allows people to send in their yearbooks and get them scanned for $39.95. By digitizing the yearbook, people can easily look through those old books, rather than wait until they find time to go through the garage or attic to find them. At the moment, there's about 500 yearbooks waiting to be scanned, said Tokuda.

The question is: Once people find their friends, what do they do? Wouldn't they just connect with them on Facebook? 

Tokuda believes Schoolfeed can create an entirely new environment that will draw people to Schoolfeed and stay there. They'll soon be launching games, like Bingo (appropriate given the demographic). His hope is people will go on Schoolfeed, hang out with old high school buddies and play games, much like they do on Facebook. Down the road, if more college and high school students use the service, Schoolfeed may offer up services that allow them to post homework questions and have their classmates answer them, similar to a service offered by Piazza.  

Schoolfeed will be competing with JuxtaLabs, Classmates.com and Reunion.com.  


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