Go1 snaps up speed reading app Blinkist to expand in enterprise learning

After raising $100 million at a valuation of over $2 billion last year, the Australian edtech startup Go1 is making an acquisition and getting some investment to expand its reach and technology to serve the market of corporate online learning.

First, it is snapping up Blinkist, a startup out of Berlin that had built a platform to discover and read abbreviated versions of longer non-fiction books -- "Blinks" that typically take no more than 15 minutes to read or listen to.

Second, while financial terms of the acquisition are not being disclosed by the two companies, we have confirmed other details with Go1's co-CEO and founder Andrew Barnes: the acquisition is a mix of cash and shares. And it will also involve Blinkist's biggest investor, Insight Partners, taking an additional $30 million in equity in Go1 at an "upround," but again with the exact numbers not being discussed.

The two platforms will continue to operate separately, but over time the plan is for more integration and cross-selling between the two, the companies said. It will also be working to bring newer currents in technology to bear on the wider platform, such as the incorporation of more AI into Blinkist's text-summarization process, and -- tapping Blinkist's app format -- providing a wider range of options for delivering courses to Go1 users.


"B2B has been our bread and butter, something Blinkist had just started moving into," Barnes said in an interview. But on the other hand, he noted that "Blinkist has very high user engagement," something Go1 wants to improve in its app. "We worked out last year that what we want to do they’d already done, and we’d done what they wanted to do."

Blinkist has had 25 million downloads of its app and has just under 1 million paying users, including some 1,500 companies. Go1 -- which is backed by the likes of Salesforce and Microsoft, but also SoftBank -- says that it has 8 million users, with big customers including Delta, Hays, Westpac and energy giant EDF, using its e-learning platform, which provides a curated catalog of training and professional development courses, tens of thousands in all.

Blinkist's last valuation was $160 million in 2018, when it raised $18.8 million, and the company is "significantly bigger" than it was then, Barnes said.

The reason Blinkist hasn't gone out for funding again in the last five years is because it hasn't had to: The company is growing and profitable, and it still has money left in the bank, according to Holger Seim, Blinkist's CEO and co-founder. It had raised just over $37 million, per PitchBook data, with previous backers in addition to Insight including Headline, Greycroft, IBB and more. 

The Berlin startup has had a range of potential acquirers knocking on its door over the years, Seim said in a separate interview. Blinkist's catalog is a mix of text-based and audio content, making it an interesting asset for tech companies, publishers or media brands that have tried to build out bigger e-book operations, business user strategies or even larger media holdings for both in areas like podcasting.

"But there was never something before Go1 that looked like a great fit," Seim said.