Peter Kafka

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Bertelsmann Backs Away From Scoyo, Its Educational Kids Site

scoyoGerman entertainment conglomerate Bertelsmann, which made a move into the online kids/education market earlier this year, appears to be having second thoughts.

Bertelsmann is looking for an investor to buy some or all of Scoyo, which it launched in Germany in January of this year and previewed in the U.S. in September, the company confirmed via email. It says that while it hunts for new money, it is keeping the German site up and running but has put development of the U.S. site on hold “as it will be a decision of the new investor how to deal with the US portal.”

I’ve been told that the company has invested as much as $30 million over two years into the project, but Bertelsmann declined to comment on that figure.

I’m not in the target market, and I’d be unable to use Scoyo even if I were, as it only runs on Windows machines. But here’s the way the U.S. site describes the service: It is “targeted to the supplemental and homeschool markets, [and] will deliver high-quality educational content for children in Kindergarten through 8th grade across a variety of subjects and disciplines.”

The beta is free, and the site was supposed to launch a subscription service next year.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work