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Siminoff: Nobel Prize Winners Give "Boring" Lectures

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    NEWSLETTERS

    We continue our talk with storied investor David Siminoff. (Published Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014)

    David Siminoff, founder and chief executive of digital education publishing company Shmoop, had a goal of offering college and career preparation at a fraction of the cost found elsewhere.

    "It's egalitarian," he told Press:Here. "You shouldn't have to be a rich kid to understand how the system works in America."

    Instead, he said that Shmoop offers test preparation at only about 2 to 5 percent of the average retail cost of other materials, and that the site raises all kids' scores. Shmoop hit on a formula that most massive online open courses (nicknamed MOOCs) never seemed to find.

    "(MOOCs) started with such a bang, but they fizzled out," Siminoff said. "You typically had a lot of Nobel prize-winning geniuses giving boring lectures."

    The Nobel prize winner probably got most people's attention, but he said that they lacked charisma or couldn't keep students. "(The classes) need to be taught by normal people who can make you laugh and make you engaged," he said. 

    As for Siminoff's investment strategy, he said that he's now interested in wearable technology which he said gives "incredible value" for small amounts of money. "I'm interested in that whole domain," he said, but also mentioned he chooses investments based on the whole picture.  "But I go for the jockey and not the horse. I look at the talent and engineering team."

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