A Case Study Quizlet

Quizlet logo


Screenshot of the website's homepage (not logged in).

Type of site

Available inEnglish, German, Spanish, Chinese(included Traditional, and Simpified), Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (BR),[1]Polish, Russian, French, Quebec French, Indonesian, Dutch, Italian, Turkish, Vietnamese
HeadquartersSan Francisco, California
Area servedSelect locations in the world
Founder(s)Andrew Sutherland
Key people
RevenueFreemium (ads/subscriptions)
Alexa rank706 worldwide, 79 in the U.S.[2]
LaunchedJanuary 17, 2007; 11 years ago (2007-01-17)
IP address104.16.14.221

Quizlet is a mobile and web-based study application. It is currently used by 1-in-2 high school students and 1-in-3 college students in the United States.[3] It was created by Andrew Sutherland in October 2005 and released to the public in January 2007.[4] Quizlet trains students via flashcards and various games and tests. As of August 2017, Quizlet has over 140 million user-generated flashcard sets and more than 20 million active learners.[5] It now ranks among the top 50 websites in the U.S.[6] In 2016, Quizlet was recognized by SimilarWeb as the fastest growing US Education site in 2015.[7]


Quizlet began as an idea conceptualized by Sutherland to memorize 111 animal names for his French class.[8][9] After realizing the daunting task of mechanical memorization, he sat down to write code for a program to aid him in memorization.[10] These first lines of code were deleted and then rewritten over a course of 420 days. In October 2005, Quizlet was released to the public.[11]

Until 2011, Quizlet shared staff and financial resources with the Collectors Weekly web site.[12] In 2015, Quizlet announced raising $12 million from Union Square Ventures, Costanoa Venture Capital, Altos Ventures and Owl Ventures to expand its digital study tools and grow internationally.[6]

In 2011, Quizlet added the ability to listen to content using text-to-speech.[13] In August 2012, Quizlet released an app for the iPhone and iPad and shortly afterward released an app for Android devices.[12]

On August 10, 2016, Quizlet introduced a revamp to their website with a new design interface, along with a new logo and homepage. Their mobile apps for iOS and Android also received a design interface update.[14]

On August 23, 2017, Quizlet introduced a new diagramming feature[15] to help learners with subjects heavy on visuals like geography, vocabulary, anatomy, and architecture.

On February 6, 2018, Quizlet announced that it had raised an additional $20 million in Series B funding[16], led by Icon Ventures.

Study modes and games[edit]

As a memorization tool, Quizlet lets registered users create sets of terms and definition customized for their own needs.[17] These sets of terms can then be studied under several study modes.[18][19]

Flash Cards
This mode is similar to paper flash cards. In it, users are shown a "card" for each term. Users can click to flip over the card or use their arrow keys, and see the definition for that term.[20]
In this study mode, definitions scroll vertically down the screen in the shape of asteroids. The user must type the term that goes with the definition before it reaches the bottom of the screen. It is one of the 'Play' study modes.[21] Gravity was adapted from a previous game, Space Race. The user can pick the level of difficulty and game type.
In this study mode, users are shown a term or definition and must type the term or definition that goes with what is shown. After entering their answer, users see if their answer was correct or not, and can choose to override the automatic grading and count their answer as right if needed.
Long-Term Learning
In this study mode, users are given a recommended study set based on whether or not they answer study set questions correctly. Repetition of terms answered incorrectly increases in frequency and a dashboard shows learning progress over time. The mode uses spaced repetition concepts to focus on longer-term retention and subject mastery versus shorter-term memorization.[22]
In this mode, the term is read out loud and users must type in the term with the correct spelling.[20]
In this study mode, users are presented with a grid with terms scattered around it. Users drag terms on top of their associated definitions to remove them from the grid and try to clear the grid in the fastest time possible. Micromatch is a related matching game geared towards mobile devices and devices with small screens. Users may access the Micromatch mode on non-mobile devices by manually editing the URL in Match mode to use "micromatch" instead of "match".[20] Match was previously attributed as "Scatter". Though the name of the study mode changed, the game itself did not.
In this study mode, a Quizlet user with a Teacher upgrade (usually a teacher) breaks their class up into teams of however number of teams they want. The teacher chooses whether to start with a definition or term. Each team will have to choose the correct term/definition to win. Most points for a team wins! Only available for people with Teacher upgrades.


Quizlet provides an API that allows others to access Quizlet data. Available functions include uploading and downloading flashcards, modifying users' flashcards, and finding definitions created by Quizlet users. That is on android applications.[23]


  1. ^"Quizlet in other languages - Quizlet". Quizlet. 
  2. ^Site Information from AlexaAlexa Internet. Accessed Oct 2, 2016.
  3. ^"Popular study app Quizlet faces a moment of truth as a new school year begins". CNBC. Retrieved 2017-08-28. 
  4. ^"QUIZLET". The Innovation Economy, presented by Intel, in partnership with the Aspen Institute, PBS Newshour. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  5. ^Quizlet Mission Page.
  6. ^ abKolodny, Lora (2015-11-23). "Quizlet Raises $12 Million to Take Its Popular Study Tools International". Retrieved 2015-11-23. 
  7. ^"SimilarWeb Digital Visionary Awards: 2015". SimilarWeb. January 21, 2016. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  8. ^Tynan, Dan. PC World. (March 9, 2008) "Meet the Whiz Kids: 10 Overachievers Under 21".
  9. ^The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet.
  10. ^"QUIZLET: Join millions and Build Your Own Flashcards, Game Yourself to Smart". SF New Tech. November 2010. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  11. ^MIT Spectrum. Summer 2009. "Quiz Yourself".
  12. ^ ab"Quizlet's Growth Puts It on the Top of the Edtech Stack". EdSurge. November 2012. Retrieved 2015-02-08. 
  13. ^"Quizlet Now Offers "Speller" Mode in 18 Languages". Free Technology for Teachers. July 2011. Retrieved 2015-02-01. 
  14. ^"Meet the new Quizlet". Retrieved 2016-08-10. 
  15. ^"Introducing Quizlet Diagrams". Quizlet Blog. August 2017. Retrieved 2017-08-28. 
  16. ^Roof, Katie. "Quizlet raises $20 million for virtual flash cards". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-02-26. 
  17. ^Wendy Boswell. Life Hacker. (January 28, 2007) "Practice your vocabulary with Quizlet".
  18. ^Barbara Feldman. The Boston Globe (November 26, 2010) [1].
  19. ^"What are the different ways I can study my flash cards?".Archived November 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Quizlet FAQ.
  20. ^ abc"Engagement for Memory: Try Quizlet". Jeanne Farrington. October 2014. Retrieved 2015-02-01. 
  21. ^"Quizlet Raises $12M Series A". VentureTracker. Retrieved 2015-11-23. 
  22. ^"Announcing Quizlet's first funding round and what's next for us". quizlet.com. Retrieved 2015-11-23. 
  23. ^"Quizlet Flashcards API". Retrieved 2 May 2017. 

External links[edit]

Big numbers are nothing new to Quizlet, one of the most widely-used digital study tools in the United States. The San Francisco-based developer behind the platform claims more than 30 million monthly users, including 1 in 2 high schoolers, and 1 in 3 college students, in the United States. And according to one website tracker, it is among the most visited sites in the country (besting LinkedIn and Spotify).

But there’s another number that also has the company excited. This week Quizlet raised an additional $20 million in a Series B round led by Icon Ventures. Other investors include Union Square Ventures, Costanoa Ventures, Owl Ventures and Altos Ventures. The company has now raised $32 million in total.

Founded in 2005, Quizlet is probably best known for its digital flashcards, built by a then-high schooler, Andrew Sutherland, who is still with the company as its chief technology officer. For the first 10 years the company remained small, and had been profitable since 2009. That was a rare feat, given that the company had not taken on any outside funding at that point.

Then in 2015, the company decided to accelerate down the venture capital route, raising $12 million in its first round of financing. At the time, Sutherland told EdSurge that he wanted to the company to “move beyond memorization” and text-based flashcards.

This latest fundraise, along with new product additions, will help the company realize those ambitions, claims Quizlet CEO Matt Glotzbach. To date, Quizlet currently has more than 200 million study sets, which are user-generated collections of flashcards, games, quizzes and other interactive activities.

A major focus of Quizlet’s current efforts is an artificial intelligence-powered offering, Quizlet Learn, that creates a customized study plan, for free, for any user. Once a learner selects a study set and chooses the date by which he or she wants to master the materials, the tool then generates a unique sequence of study materials and quizzes (ranging from multiple choice to open-ended questions).

Here’s where the artificial intelligence comes in. Quizlet Learn makes its recommendations based on an analysis of billions of anonymous study sessions previously done on that topic. Each week, the company processes up to 2 billion learning “transactions,” defined as a sequence of question-and-answer interactions between the Quizlet program and a user, according to Glotzbach. “That’s an enormous wealth of data,” he adds, that informs the different learning pathways created by Quizlet Learn.

Refining the precision of this AI-powered tool will be a priority for the company says Glotzbach, who wants to “continue building our machine learning and data science team to build out models of learning that are domain-specific” to a variety of subjects, from foreign languages and chemistry to non-traditional ones like art and welding. The company plans to grow its staff from 70 to upward of 120 employees by the middle of the year.

Not all the new hires will be technical. The company is also gearing to expand its overseas presence, particularly in Western Europe and Asia, with the help of new partnership and marketing staff in these areas. Today, U.S. visitors make up about 75 percent of all of Quizlet’s users, although international growth will be a focus for the company in the months ahead.

Quizlet’s global ambition was one of the things that attracted Glotzbach to Icon Ventures, which traces its origins to a Tokyo-based venture capital and private equity firm, Jafco Ventures. Jafco is the biggest limited partner in Icon, and “what comes with that capital is a dedicated business and development team in Japan” along with distribution partners, says Jeb Miller, a general partner at Icon Ventures, in an interview.

Miller adds that this Series B deal is “one of the largest investments we’ve made in our history.” Icon Ventures typically focuses on making Series B investments in the $10 million to $15 million range, in companies that are generating up to $20 million in revenue.

Like most private companies, Quizlet kept mum when pressed about its financials. Glotzbach did confirm that the company is currently not cashflow positive, despite claiming that revenue from Quizlet’s subscription business “more than doubled” in 2017 from the previous year. The company offers two subscription plans for individual users (at $1.99 and $19.99 per year) as well as a $34.99 annual plan for teachers that offers additional features, customizations and an ad-free experience.

Last year, the company unveiled a new content revenue strategy whereby content publishers pay Quizlet to make their study materials available via the platform. Glotzbach told EdSurge last September that he expects this “Verified Creators” partner program to make up 20 to 30 percent of the company’s overall revenues by 2020. It is not at that level yet.

That the company is still in the red doesn’t concern Miller yet. “As an investor we love that there is a diversity of revenue streams depending on which one is most effective for different segments” of Quizlet’s users, he says. The company “isn’t trying to monetize from younger students, but as they move onto college and continuing education there are more appropriate ways that make sense.”

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