Goodnotes acquires a AI-powered video summary startup as it looks beyond education | JP


London-based notetaking startup Goodnotes said today it is acquiring South Korean startup Dropthebit, which operates a meeting and video summary tool called Traw. With the acquisition, Goodnotes is looking to move beyond classrooms and explore making productivity tools for professionals.

As part of the deal, all three co-founders of Dropthebit will move to Goodnotes. Plus, Traw said on its website that its tool is shutting down in February but will allow existing customers to export their data.

Dropthebit, which was founded in 2020 and had raised $1 million to date, started out by launching a whiteboard solution in 2022. The tool recorded the activities on the whiteboard during a lecture or a meeting. Plus, it summarized the meeting into a document for later consumption. Last year, Traw dropped the whiteboard functionality, focused on meeting summarization, and added an AI-powered tool to summarize and organize YouTube videos.

Goodnotes founder Steven Chan told JP that Dropthebit was looking to raise its Series A funding. And while Goodnotes considered both investment and acquisition, it finally chose latter.

“Even before we met Dropthebit through a mutual investor connection, we were very impressed by their work. Their multimodality was something we were interested in and saw it as good synergy with Goodnotes,” Chan said.

Goodnotes, which has over 24 million monthly active users, has focused on providing a digital notebook-like solution for students over the years — starting with an iPad app in 2011. In August 2023, the startup launched Goodnotes 6 with a digital marketplace for planners, and subject-specific revision notes. Plus, it launched paid education modules for students including SAT Math practice courses and English and Chinese courses for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE).

With its latest acquisition, Goodnotes aims to move into the productivity sector catering to professionals. Chan said Traw’s feature such as analyzing videos and putting them into an Excel sheet could be useful for professional segments such as investors and market researchers as the company looks to move beyond the education sector.

“We already have an audio recording in Goodnotes, but with Traw’s integration, we will look towards transcription business and later we’ll also integrate support YouTube or (a company’s) internal videos. Separately, we are also building LLM (Large Language Model)–based features so users can ask questions about the notes or meetings,” Chan said.

Goodnotes said it plans to be a “paperless digital notebook” for professionals by trying to help them get more insights from meetings and documents. Currently, Goodnotes is more focused on stylus-based handwritten notes. The startup said it is already improving its typing experience across the board to make it suitable for different forms of notetaking.

Apart from acquiring Dropthebit, in September 2023, the note-taking company invested $1.9 million in Korea-based digital stationary startup WeBudding. However, Goodnotes, which got a $6 million seed investment from Race Capital in 2020, is not looking to raise another round.

“I feel like we are very cost-efficient. So for now, we don’t have any fundraising plans. We like the flexibility of focusing on the user experience and building the product. So we plan to keep it that way in the foreseeable future,” Chan said.

Alfred S. Chuang, the general partner at Race Capital, said he’s excited about Goodnotes’ move into the productivity space.

“I am excited about this acquisition for Goodnotes. The Traw team is super talented with some great AI/engineering chops. They will build AI-powered audio recording and screen recording capabilities in Goodnotes,” Chuang told JP over email.

“Goodnotes’ expansion into new use cases that integrate Goodnotes into different enterprise workflows makes sense to me. Their challenge is that they will have to continue their growth without sacrificing user experience.”

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