A Santa Monica test-prep company has launched a product aimed at making it easier and cheaper for high school students to get one-on-one SAT tutoring.
Arbor Bridge, founded in 2007, uses an algorithm to devise tutoring curricula tailored to the needs of individual students. Its tutors, working remotely, base the tutoring on information produced by proprietary software that analyzes a diagnostic exam. They then draw from 562 different lesson plans developed by industry experts, whichever best fit that particular person.
Individual instruction is conducted online via a Web conferencing platform in which a tutor can also share graphics and other visual aids to a student’s computer.
The service carries an average price of $5,000, and Andrew Finn, Arbor Bridge’s co-founder and managing director, said he and his team sensed there was a bigger market for its product.
“We needed to figure out a way to make this available to a much larger group of people, not just affluent families,” Finn said.
What they came up with is truePrep, a boiled-down, 15-hour preparatory program that features the same tailored lesson plans and online one-on-one tutoring sessions for $1,150.
“We took out some of the more luxury concierge features that not every family needs,” Finn said. “There’s no compromise in the tutoring.”
The lower-price offering puts Arbor Bridge in competition with industry leader Kaplan Test Prep, which charges $1,999 for a 12-hour private SAT tutoring program.
Though the company has been bootstrapped since launch, Finn said Arbor Bridge could be seeking outside funding soon now that margins are lower and money will have to be spent to get the word out about truePrep.
The company also plans to offer an ACT course this summer. With significant changes coming to the SAT in 2016, including an optional essay and different vocabulary questions, Finn said Arbor Bridge will need to recalibrate about 20 percent of its algorithm. And he’ll recommend that students skip the revised SAT in its first year and opt for the ACT instead.
“For the time being, why risk it?” he said.
Culver City’s Jukin Media, which acquires and licenses user-generated viral videos, has launched a product that makes it easier for digital publishers to find and upload its content to their websites.
Each publishing client gets a custom feed culled from Jukin’s growing library of more than 15,000 videos. Jukin also allows publishers to monetize that content by placing premium ads around the videos and negotiates revenue-sharing deals on a case-by-case basis.
AOL Inc. and Yahoo Corp. are among the seven partners already signed on to use the feed, with several others expected in coming weeks, according to a Jukin statement.
“Jukin’s videos were viewed more than 1 billion times on digital publisher websites in 2014,” said Lee Essner, Jukin’s president and chief operating officer in an emailed statement. “Those numbers figure to grow significantly in 2015 as our new offering makes it easier for publishers to use our content.”
Out of Demand
Shawn Colo, a co-founder and president of Santa Monica Web publisher Demand Media, resigned his executive and board positions last week, the company disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
Colo served in those roles since August, after a stint as interim chief executive following the departure of Richard Rosenblatt in 2013. He was previously executive vice president for corporate development. He stepped aside as interim CEO to make way for Saatchi Art Chief Executive Sean Moriarty, who came aboard with Demand’s acquisition of the online art gallery for $17 million in cash and stock.
“I think the board wanted some fresh blood in the company,” Sameet Sinha, an analyst with the San Francisco office of West L.A. brokerage B. Riley & Co., said of Moriarty’s appointment. He noted that Colo’s departure was not surprising.
Colo will leave the company Feb. 20, as will board member Gaurav Bhandari. With the departures, the Demand board will shrink to seven from nine.
“For eight years Shawn has put his heart into Demand Media and he leaves a legacy of lasting contributions to the business and our culture,” Moriarty said in an emailed statement. “His leadership and friendship will be missed and we wish him the very best as he pursues his next opportunity.”
Demand’s stock price closed flat Feb. 18 at $5.18. Colo controls more than 1 million shares of Demand stock, including unvested restricted units.
Former Relativity Media executive Linda Benjamin has joined LeVar Burton’s Burbank children’s media company RRKIDZ, home of Reading Rainbow, as president of global strategy and business affairs. … What’s Trending, a digital media company in Los Angeles, has hired James Haffner as its first chief operating officer. … James Deutch has joined AwesomenessTV, a YouTube multichannel network and management company in Los Angeles, in the newly created position of creative director for branded entertainment.
Staff reporter Omar Shamout can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 549-5225, ext. 263.
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