Monday Roundup: 2tor, Busuu, Tofugu TV and Sifteo

In today’s MRU we take a look at the whooping $32 million funding for 2tor, the new recording feature of Busuu, the first episode of Tofugu TV and the future of building blocks developed by a company called Sifteo.


The recent funding of 2tor brings the total sum to about $65 million which makes the company one of the best funded ones in education. 2tor was founded in 2008 and

… supplies universities with the tools, expertise, capital, and global recruiting needed to compete in a space currently dominated by mediocre programs.

According to the 2tor website, the platform makes a $10 million+ upfront investment in every university partnership. I guess this would explain the new funding round which then basically covered three new universities.

2tor says to take care of the entire process building up the online branch of each of their partner universities, transforming offline content into asynchronous and synchronous online teaching components. The platform then also takes care of the maintenance and student support.


Busuu launched a much requested feature last week. Members of the community can now record their voice and get the recording corrected by members of the community, something Livemocha has been offering since the early days (I know, because I corrected a lot of them in 2008/09).

Whereas Livemocha asked general questions based on the exercises a member did previously, Busuu takes a different approach. There are 150 dialogs in seven languages to choose from, all recorded by professional voice artists.

To start the exercise, the student picks one of the two people involved in the dialog and records the part. Busuu then mixes the recorded part with the one of the voice artist and submits it for review by the community.

Tofugu TV

Last year I wrote about Koichi’s new and exciting project called Tofugu TV. He travelled Japan in late 2010, visiting places aside of the known tourist tracks and letting the community decide where to go next. As I am a huge addict to travel shows, I was really looking forward to the episodes.

We all know what happened since then in Japan and therefore it is on the one hand sad to see the first episode of Tofugu TV without knowing what has happened to the places and people Koichi met on Cat Island, on the other hand it’s a unique piece of web 2.0 history and as Koichi writes on his blog post for the video

Cat Island was very close to the quake. Although there’s a lot of info floating about in regards to the damage to the island, there’s nothing concrete, and nothing I’d deem as “reliable.” […] If you want to support Cat Island, wait a year or so and go visit them (and spend money). In the meantime, spreading rumors about Cat Island won’t help, so everybody calm down and wait for good info!

In the meanwhile Koichi and his community raised more than $8000 to help the people in Japan through new subscriptions to the TextFugu Textbook in the last week. The whole amount + 10% out of Koichi’s wallet were donated to World Vision.

For more information on Cat Island, visit Koichi’s blog. To watch lots of cats, watch the video below.


Back in February 2009 David Merill presented the first version of the Sifteo building blocks at TED and I was immediately blown away. As you probably learned over the past couple of years, I am a gadget girl and O.M.G. – how I wanted those blocks, even at the early stage back then.

Two years later the Siftables, now Sifteo Cubes, are finally ready to ship at an amazing price of only $149.

You can read more about the process that led to the product in an interesting article about Sifteo over at Fast Company. The early subscribers will receive their blocks this month already, the rest has to wait until the end of the year. I am pretty sure that I will get me some for Christmas! Below is the latest product demo.

  • Amanda Moritz

    Sifteo looks so cool!

    • KirstenWinkler

      Yes, I can’t wait! Will be a huge time consumer 😉

  • koichi

    I like your roundups! Is there a tag / category I can follow/rss?

    • koichi

      derp derp. I’m dumb. Saw it when the comment was posting. disregard! :)

      • koichi

        Totally having a conversation with myself.

        • KirstenWinkler

          Not anymore.

      • KirstenWinkler

        Not sure if it’s for this category only, you’re the hacker :)

    • KirstenWinkler

      That’s a good question …