New Education for the New Economy

Coursekit Is Now Lore; Peter Thiel Invests

The new name offers room to grow.
1cc996d Coursekit Is Now Lore; Peter Thiel Invests

Mr. Cohen. (LinkedIn.com)

Coursekit, which bills itself as a social network for higher education, is Coursekit no more. Henceforth the company will be known as “Lore,” a name which offers a little more flexibility for a fast-growing, still-evolving startup.

The company released a statement saying that the change “reflects the company’s ambition to be the global network of learners, instructors, and educational content.”

Also included in the announcement: Peter Thiel recently invested, via the Founders Fund. He offered a few remarks to explain the move:

The Internet is reshaping how people learn, and Lore is one of the companies making that happen. My course at Stanford is using Lore and we can see dynamics changing already.

Mr. Thiel’s investment is especially interesting, given his famous antipathy toward traditional higher ed and the fact that the rebrand seems to open the company up to a broader notion of learning. Nor is this the first sign of ambition beyond straightforward classroom learning management–back in February, CEO Joseph Cohen talked NYU Stern professor Aswath Damodaran into opening up two of his popular classes to nonpaying Internet denizens via the platform.

In a brief phone conversation, Mr. Cohen told Betabeat that his team had come to feel the name “Coursekit” was too confining. He and his cofounders started the company while in school, as a way for professors to better manage their courses and for students to connect outside of the classroom. But since then, they’ve covered a lot of ground–they’ve dropped out, they’re at $6 million in venture funding and in 600 institutions–and along the way, their thinking has evolved. “Our vision is to be a platform for learning in whatever form,” whether a course-specific study group or broader school community, Cohen explained.

“We don’t think there are many inspiring brands in the area, and we want to be that,” he explained. “We’re looking to build a big company here, and we felt that our name was limiting.”

So why Lore? Well, there are the practical aspects: “It’s short, simple, sweet, but we could also fill it with meaning because not that many people use the word very often.” But the term also has bigger implications: “Lore means knowledge shared between people, which is what we do.”

Despite the name change and the seeming broadening of focus, Cohen refused to reveal any upcoming alterations to the offering itself: “As of today, we’re not announcing any product changes.” That said, “you should expect things to get better and bigger and evolve over time.”

Sounds to us like there’s something in the works.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com