Sesame Street Launches VC Arm to Influence Tech for Kids

Sesame Street Launches VC Arm to Influence Tech for Kids
Image credit: Sesame Street | HBO

V is for venture capital and Cookie Monster wants in. Tech startups are looking awfully yummy to the furry blue Muppet these days. His bosses over at Sesame Street are officially biting into the tasty world of early stage companies, particularly the kind that could attract more knee-high digital natives.

We kid you not. It’s true. You can Count von Count on it.

The proof: Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that produces the classic kids’ TV series, today announced the launch of Sesame Ventures. The new division will forge partnerships with venture capital outlets to funnel cash into a portfolio of “like-minded” for-profit startups. To be sure, they will all play well Sesame Street’s mission, which is to “help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.”

Related: What You Can Learn About Social Media from Big Bird

First up is Collaborative Fund, a buzzy backer of startup darlings like Kickstarter and Lyft. Sesame Workshop has freshly inked a deal with the technology-focused seed capital firm, fittingly headquartered in New York City (Sesame Street is an imaginary street in Manhattan, remember?). Together, the two entities are rolling out Collab+Sesame, a $10 million fund geared toward fostering innovation in the increasingly more techie realm of childhood development -- and to scale the startups making waves in the space.  



The fund is biting off a lot right out of the gate. “Areas of interest include startups focused on education, media, family development, social and cultural development, food, health, and wellness,” according to a Collaborative fund statement from Collaborative Fund about the initiative. Each Collab+Sesame-supported startup will receive a cool $1 million infusion, plus hands-on support.

Collaborative Fund’s announcement included an image that lists “data management,” “collaboration tools” and “hardware” as areas Collab+Sesame will also hone in on. We can only image the many technology-driven learning gadgets, gizmos and apps to come, all likely branded with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street characters, of course.

Related: Jim Henson: The Muppet Master

“We are in the midst of an extraordinary time in the history of how digital technology can change the education, health and welfare of kids around the world,” Jeffrey D. Dunn, Sesame Workshop’s CEO, said in a statement. “History suggests that much of that change will spring from new companies. By partnering with some of these startups, Sesame Workshop can help grow the next wave of kid-focused innovation and improve the lives of children everywhere.”

Sesame Street is no stranger to brand-building via disruptive technology. Jim Henson’s iconic kids’ series originally premiered on November 10, 1969, giving birth to the children’s TV educational genre on what was still a somewhat nascent medium. We’re curious to see where the nonprofit’s newfound interest in startups will take the brand -- and the millions of kids who look to it to learn their ABCs and 123s.

Related: Last Year, Reading Rainbow Raised $5.4 Million on Kickstarter. Then, the Real Work Began.

Edition: November 2016

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