Airy Lands $1.5M for Educational Games; Peter Thiel Foundation Does a Happy Dance

Palo Alto-based education game maker Airy Labs has raised $1.5 million from Foundation Capital, Google Ventures, and Playdom co-founder Rick Thompson.

The funding comes after a $100,000 fellowship grant to Airy’s founder, Andrew Hsu, from Peter Thiel’s much-publicized and politicized “20 under 20” grant program, in which the PayPal co-founder paid 20 young entrepreneurs to leave or forgo college in favor of starting companies.

The announcement also makes Hsu the first alum of Thiel’s program to get a business idea venture funded.

Airy’s mission, according to Hsu, is to “make games that parents can feel good about handing to their kids … and that don’t suck.”

The games, which will initially teach English, math and memory building, will be targeted at the 5 to 13 age range, which is coincidentally about the same age Hsu was when he started studying neuroscience at the University of Washington.

It’s somewhat ironic that the first funded Thiel fellow has spent almost half his life in college.

While Hsu said that Thiel’s cash was “nice to have,” he said he knew he’d have to raise a lot more to build out his vision for cross-platform learning games.

Hsu said Airy’s first products would be offered initially on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platform, with the hope that the games will evolve “into a larger platform where social learning can take place.”

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik