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Sesame Street Venture Fund Invests in Start-Ups Teaching Kids to Code—and More

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 30:  Muppets attend the Sesame Street Workshop 10th Annual Benefit Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on May 30, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY - MAY 30:  Muppets attend the Sesame Street Workshop 10th Annual Benefit Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on May 30, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Learning to code is cool. But Sesame Ventures, the VC arm of the non-profit Sesame Workshop, which produces the long-running educational television show Sesame Street, is betting on the future of teaching kids to build new tech products—even the next Snapchat.

Sesame Ventures contributed an undisclosed portion of a recent $28 million investment in Kano, a do-it-yourself computer building kit for kids. Already, Kano boasts 250,000 customers across 150 countries, with a mix of hardware tinkerers and game designers working directly on the company’s online platform. And the company produces more than young would-be coders. According to CNBC, Kano’s co-founder and chief executive Alex Klein says half of the online users on the Kano platform are over the age of 18.

Klein also told CNBC that the cash infusion would help the company expand beyond its DIY computer-building kits to focus on software as well as hardware. “What interests us greatly is building your own internet, learning how networks work so you can protect your data, so you can carefully and creatively open up access ports to other people, exchange files in your own way, kind of take some control back over how these core communication systems in your life work,” he explained.

This isn’t the first time Sesame Workshop has supported an ed-tech initiative. Last year, it partnered with IBM Watson to produce an AI-powered vocabulary learning app.

Like other venture funds, Sesame Ventures, which opened in 2016, offers not only capital but access to talent—that is, the creative minds behind the hit children’s show. Kano, named for judo founder Kanō Jigorō, was founded in 2012.