Big news out of Landover, a suburb of Washington D.C., this morning:
2tor Inc. raised $26 million in a fourth major round of investment, and plans to use the money to expand its reach into the higher-education online degree market. The Landover-based company has about 270 employees, and company officials said that they could hire as many as 100 new employees in coming years.
2tor partners with universities to build full-scale web experiences interwoven with an online education program that grants a serious degree to students. The company currently has built sites for the University of Southern California, Georgetown and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
The financing brings 2tor's total investment from investors to a whopping $96 million. Some big-name venture capital firms are betting on the company, including an affiliate of the Hillman Company, SVB Capital, WestRiver Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Highland Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Novak Biddle Venture Partners and City Light Capital.
Chip Paucek, 2tor's co-founder and CEO, said 2tor helps universities build a full-scale online degree program. Such programs are increasingly important to universities, as they can increase the number of enrolled students significantly and grow their tuition base.
Paucek said a USC master of arts in teaching program used to have fewer than 200 students enrolled. Now, with the online component, the program attracts 2,000 students, he said.
"This online program is equal to the on-campus program," said Paucek. "It also has to be as selective as the on-campus program."