Startup owns social-learning website Learnist

Discovery Communications continues its cutting-edge investments, pouring $20 million into startup Grockit, owner of the Learnist website.

San Francisco-based Grockit, which launched Learnist in May, said Discovery would lead a new round of strategic investment with Summit Group and previous investors Atlas Venture, Benchmark Capital, Integral Capital and GSV Capital. The Discovery deal also includes shared technology, marketing, distribution and promotion opportunities.

“As Discovery focuses its digital strategy around strengthening its position in video as the No. 1 nonfiction media company across all screens, we also see strategic growth opportunities in select investments in the next generation knowledge space,” said chief digital officer J.B. Perrette.

Discovery has been on a buying binge comparable in the media space only to Disney, but on a smaller scale. Last week it announced a deal to acquire the SBS Nordic operations of ProSiebenSat.1 for $1.7 billion. In late November, it said it would buy Dubai-based media company Takhayal Entertainment, which owns the region’s leading food network, and also that it was negotiating a partnership with France’s TF1. Last May, it acquired U.S. Internet video network Revision3.

Grockit’s latest round of funding coincides with the launch of a redesigned Learnist site whose user base has increased by 400%, Grockit said, and user engagement has doubled. Learnist apps for iPhone and iPad have been updated to allow users to create and add content.

Grockit CEO Roy Gilbert said the pact “will combine Learnist social learning technology with Discovery’s massive reach and footprint. Together, we look forward to encouraging more people to share what they know and learn from each other.”

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