Governor Martin O'Malley announced today that Tales2Go, a leading provider of streaming audiobooks, has moved to Maryland from Washington D.C. and received a $150,000 investment from the Maryland Venture Fund ("MVF"), through its InvestMaryland program. The company, now located in Bethesda, is a Netflix-like subscription service that streams thousands of titles from popular publishers to early childhood programs and primary schools. The MVF investment is part of a larger fundraising round co-led by NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm that supports entrepreneurs transforming K-12 public education and providing opportunities for underserved students.
"Tales2Go shares Maryland's commitment to innovation, discovery and investment in education and I am proud to welcome this dynamic young company to our State," Governor O'Malley said. "I am confident their industry-leading platform and our wealth of education resources, high-quality workforce and vibrant network of innovators and entrepreneurs will lead to continued growth and success for Tales2Go and for Maryland."
"Funding from NewSchools and the State of Maryland is a game changer for our company. Beyond the obvious benefits of additional finances, NewSchools and the State of Maryland bring important credibility and support to our technology and purpose," said William Weil, CEO and cofounder of Tales2Go. "Audio books are more than a nice library resource, or good for struggling readers. They are an important tool for reading achievement in the classroom and a desired supplement to parents at home."
Tales2Go supports the development of literacy skills during the most critical early childhood and elementary years, when students acquire a foundation of vocabulary and fluency necessary for academic success. Listening skills are given special emphasis within the Common Core State Standards, as literacy experts have long understood that children need to be good listeners in order to become good readers. The Tales2Go service is used differently across ages and grade levels, ranging from individual to group use with or without physical books in hand. The company has seven employees and plans to double its staff by the end of 2015.
Created by Governor O'Malley and passed by the General Assembly in 2011, InvestMaryland is the largest venture capital investment initiative in Maryland's history. The $84 million program is being administered through the Maryland Venture Fund, the venture arm of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. In March 2012, the State raised $84 million for the program through an online auction of tax credits to Maryland insurance companies. Two-thirds of the funding -- $56 million -- is being managed by carefully screened private venture firms that will invest the funds and, if successful, return 100% of the principal and 80% of the profits to the State's general fund. The remaining third of the InvestMaryland capital is largely allocated to direct investments by the state-run Maryland Venture Fund.
The Maryland Venture Fund ("MVF") is a regionally recognized leader in seed and early-stage investing and a national model for state-supported investment programs. With nearly two decades of experience and numerous successful investments, MVF invests in highly innovative technology companies across the full range of industry sectors including software, communications, cybersecurity and life sciences companies in the areas of healthcare IT, medical devices and diagnostics.
The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development stimulates private investment and creates jobs by attracting new businesses, encouraging the expansion and retention of existing companies, and providing workforce training and financial assistance to Maryland companies. The Department promotes the State's many economic advantages and markets local products and services at home and abroad to spur economic development and international investment, trade and tourism. For more information, visit www.ChooseMaryland.org.