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Learning a foreign language doesn’t have to be dull. That’s the idea behind Moonshoot, a startup that is announcing today it has raised $6.6 million in venture funding.
The round was led by Alsop Louie Partners and TL Ventures. The company is also announcing today that it has appointed Tom Kalinske — the former CEO of companies such as Leapfrog, Sega of America, Knowledge Universe and Mattel — as its executive chairman.
Moonshoot, based in Palo Alto, Calif., will use interactive entertainment to teach children around the world how to learn English as a second language.
The company’s top executives include president and co-founder Jay Jamison, Chief Marketing Officer Shinobu Toyoda, and co-founder Koji Kato. Dai Sakurai, former managing director of Sanrio and Sega Toys, is on the board, as are Gilman Louie from Alsop Louie Partners and Anthony Chang of TL Ventures.
Moonshoot is preparing to launch in Japan later this year. Then it will expand to other Asian countries such as China, Taiwan and Korea. In Japan, about $5 billion is spent each year on English courses and training. The company was started in November, 2007, by formre Microsoft managers Kato and Jamison. It has 11 employees. The first release of Moonshoot’s online game will help kids build a vocabulary of 600 words and 200 phrases that will help them read up to 50 classic children’s books.
In Japan, rivals include the Disney World of English, which uses DVD materials and physical goods. Another rival is Disney’s Club Penguin (which focuses on kids but doesn’t stress language development) and 8dWorld’s WizWorldOnline, which has launched in China.
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