Why could Edmodo not turn its virality into profitability?

What is Edmodo?

A social network’s concepts refined by the educational website, Edmodo to make it suitable for a classroom. Students and instructors engaged with one another using the platform by exchanging ideas, issues, and useful advice. On Edmodo, a teacher assigned and marked homework, and students seeked assistance from their whole class.

It was a secure setting. The instructor had access to all posts made on Edmodo, so there was no bullying or improper content. In order to establish a degree of openness that is difficult to attain without technology, parents could also enroll in the class. Overall, Edmodo was a fantastic addition to almost any class.

Edmodo was one of the first Edtech companies of its time. It was so ahead in time that it’s almost astonishing how they managed to acquire the initial crowd. It has evolved everyday since its launch in 2008. 


From introducing Twitter to the classroom to gamification of education, Edmodo evolved in the ed-tech sector as rapidly as the technology itself. It created a newer and better learning methodology everyday. 

The Golden Period

The COVID-19 pandemic caused spring 2020 users of Edmodo to jump by a whopping 1,500% in a short span of time. Just to give the reference of the impact – The Egyptian Ministry of Education hired Edmodo to offer remote learning options to its 20 million students, parents, and instructors. Soon, it was receiving inquiries from a number of other ministries of education as well.

Great, but what then happened to the pioneer of the Ed-Tech industry?

What so tragically happened suddenly in 2022 that a company who had been booming so high in the past 2 years had to shut down? Did Edmodo really completely shut down in a single day?

It was becoming more and more difficult for Edmodo to survive in the competitive market due to its free model. Also, It did not shut down in a single day. It had its own ups and downs throughout the 1.5 decade-long career. 

Edmodo, which was founded in 2008 as a school-safe social learning network for K-12 instructors and students, saw an early “hockey stick growth” demonstrating viral acceptance. 

The site was even referred to as “Facebook for schools,” and the platform’s familiar feel and design drew many instructors to Edmodo’s services. The firm claimed 10 million users by 2012.

However, unlike Facebook, which can generate billions of dollars in ad income, the great majority of Edmodo’s users—roughly 90 percent—are students. And children do not pay. 

Many freemium edtech businesses provide a rudimentary version of their goods for free and attempt to upsell “premium” services to school administrators such as data analytics and extra functionality. 

The attempts to create a win-win situation

A free software can sound very easy and pleasing to a user but for a company its an everyday loss model. Edmodo in all its ability tried to serve its users for free but in an attempt to do so it tried other methods to cover it’s cost and create a win-win situation for all. Let’s take a look at a few of these attempts and evaluate why they failed resulting in the company to shut down.

  1. The Edmodo Store
Introducing CK-12 Math and Science Practice on Edmodo

Edmodo has long attempted to figure out how to provide value that instructors or schools would be willing to pay for. In 2012, the firm launched an app store where instructors could buy products directly from entrepreneurs and businesses, with Edmodo taking a share of the sales. 

“Our theory was that instructors would have money to spend on applications,” said Manish Kothari, the (then) General Manager of Platform. “We expected districts to distribute funds and allow [teachers] the option to choose and purchase anything they wanted.”

This idea, that instructors would have the funds or power to acquire applications, is currently considered “a pipe dream,” according to Kothari. Only 10% of Edmodo’s instructors used the app store, which had 700 apps from 100 developers at its height. 

At one time, they even provided instructors app store credit, but this did not generate long-term momentum.

  1. Selling customer data

It’s now a given that if you’re not paying for software, the true product is you. Same thing happened with the users of Edmodo. In early 2017 Edmodo allegedly tried to collect the user data such as usernames, email addresses and hashed passwords, and apparently put it up for sale on the dark web. As a result a hacker stole 77 Million Edmodo User Accounts.

Mollie Carter, the company’s (then) Vice President of marketing and adoption, offered this statement:

“Edmodo has learned about a potential security incident. Protecting the privacy of our users is one of the utmost importance to Edmodo. We take this report very seriously, and we are investigating. We have no indication at this time that any user passwords have been compromised, and we want to let everyone know that we are working with law enforcement. We have no other confirmed information to share right now.”

  1. In-app Advertisement  

The most important and convenient form of monetization for a software is advertisement. Edmodo can’t shed the shame of this controversy off its shoulders. In late October 2018, Edmodo fell nose first into this controversy of offensive commercials on the social studies feed page of a 8th Grade Student. Edmodo happened to have dropped the ball a couple of times as parents posted the screenshots of a beer and an e-cig commercial on Twitter raising concerns about their children’s exposure to inappropriate content. 


“I want to hang my head in shame,” Edmodo’s CEO Vibhu Mittal told EdSurge of the vaping ad incident. “It shouldn’t have gone up. It shouldn’t have been seen. That was our fault.” 


Even after this event, Edmodo kept facing troubles with advertising on their software as once a fruit loop commercial was displayed on the Edmodo feed of a 12 year old student. 

The then CEO of Edmodo Vibhu Mittal took the entire responsibility of the incident when he said

“We choose content that is appropriate for age 13, or about 13,” Mittal said. “We feel completely comfortable in terms of the content of our ads. … I have a lot of confidence in believing [the ad council] wouldn’t let something that would be offensive to any of our users.”  

They also changed the company policy. The policy that previously read, “No sponsored content will knowingly be shown to students under the age of 13.” later read: “Sponsored content will be available to students.”

As a result, Hillview Middle School along with a few other educational institutions started to move away from Edmodo.

So Edmodo surely took quite a lot of effort before it decided to turn off the lights. But no due to its commitment of forever free service it had no other choice but to sunset Edmodo.

What could be the alternate Future of Edmodo?

As heartbreaking as it was to hear the news, in all practicality if we dive into the imagination of what else could have happened, can there be an alternate future of Edmodo? 

We tried to evaluate what was the other way around to his obstacle of bearing losses

“If I can simply make 30 cents or 40 cents per user per year, [we] will be profitable,” said Vibhu Mittal, the company’s CEO, during a panel discussion at the ASU+GSV Summit earlier in 2016. Keeping in mind the massive growth of 2020 mid-pandemic, the numbers boil down even lower than that, then what stopped Edmodo from monetizing the crowd and continuing to survive?

An opinion amongst all can be that the software that once reaped the benefits of being the early bird in the industry now lacked a lot of features that it’s new-age competitors like Edredo could very conveniently provide. Edmodo, if opted for a premium model, could have faced rejection from its existing audience as every rational buyer compares the products before taking a decision and Edmodo clearly could see a losing battle there. 

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