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Classroom 2020: VCs and the Education Revolution

#sxsw #CR2020

In his 1999 The Age of Spiritual Machines, renowned futurist Ray Kurzweil envisioned education in 2020 to consist of students learning through intelligent software delivered on hand-held computers and interacting with teachers and fellow students through remote networked communities. Looking back, it’s amazing how prescient he was.

Today, we recognize that education is flawed and in deep need of a reboot. Global competitiveness and the rapidly evolving demands of the knowledge economy require the delivery of a quality education. And we know that “Waiting for Superman” is not an option.

This panel brings together leading venture capitalists -- Mitch Kapor, Phil Bronner and Rob Hutter -- who are betting their careers and their capital that technology will make the difference. Together they have funded approximately 30 ventures that are re-imagining education -- along lines reminiscent of Kurzweil’s vision.

With moderator and long-time journalist Betsy Corcoran, they will take a hard look at the challenges facing education, address the private sector’s role in solving them, and discuss whether venture capital can help deliver the education of the future.


Betsy Corcoran Co-Founder & CEO EdSurge

Cofounder and editor of edSurge, the fastest growing news source on education technology.

Mitch Kapor Partner Kapor Capital

Mitch Kapor is a pioneer of the personal computing industry and has been at the forefront of information technology for more than 30 years as an entrepreneur, software designer, and investor. He is widely known as the founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of Lotus 1-2-3, the "killer application" which made the personal computer ubiquitous in the business world in the 1980s.

Through Kapor Capital, Mitch is active as a seed-stage information technology investor focusing on social impact startups. He was the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which protects freedom and privacy on the Internet; and founding Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, maker of the open source web browser Firefox.

Mitch is a Director and major funder of the Level Playing Field Institute, which works to increase fairness in education and the workplace by closing the opportunity gap and removing barriers to success. LPFI operates the Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH), which prepares students from under-represented communities to be competitive in science, technology, engineering, and math related studies at top universities.

He is also a Director of the Mitchell Kapor Foundation, a private foundation which supports organizations that provoke social change in communities of color.

Philip Bronner General Partner Novak Biddle Venture Partners

Philip Bronner joined Novak Biddle Venture Partners in 1999 and is focused on investments in
information technology. Prior to joining Novak Biddle he founded a media technology company.
In addition, he served as a management consultant with McKinsey & Co. in New York advising
high-tech clients on corporate strategy and worked as a software engineer at IBM.

Phil has been named one of Washington, D.C. area's 100 "Tech Titans" and serves on the board
of 2tor, Clearspring, SolidFire, Fidelis College, Vision Chain, and New Charter University.
He also leads Novak Biddle's investments in Infoblox, Panasas and LifeShield Security. Past
board or board observer seats include: N.E.W. Customer Service Companies, Webs (acquired by
Vistaprint), Clear Standards (acquired by SAP), Social Gaming Network (acquired by Mindjolt),
AnswerLogic (acquired by Primus Knowledge Systems), Logic Library (acquired by SOA
Software), Approva (acquired by Infor), and ePals.

Phil earned a BS in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University; a Juris Doctorate from
the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Law; and a Master of Business Administration from
the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Phil currently serves on the Alumni Advisory Board for Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer
Science and is a board member for In2Books, a Washington, DC-based reading and literacy

Robert Hutter Managing Partner LearnCapital

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