To keep pace with Google, Microsoft buys education platform Flipgrid

June 18 (UPI) — Microsoft, in its latest challenge to Google, acquired Flipgrid — a video discussion platform used by more than 20 million teachers and students around the world, the company said Monday.

In a statement, Microsoft said it would make Flipgrid free for educators and would offer refunds to everyone who has purchased a subscription from Flipgrid in the last year.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the software maker and Flipgrid look to “democratize” technology to empower educators and students.

“Building communities around learning is more important than ever,” Nadella said. “Technology is merely a tool to enable their creativity and ingenuity.”

“Flipgrid will continue to work great on Chromebooks, iPads, iPhones, PCs, and Android devices,” Flipgrid said. “And just as we always have, we will continue to improve Flipgrid for educators.”

Microsoft’s acquisition will expand its educational footprint, where Google Chromebooks have become increasingly popular. The company has faced greater competition in the education sector from Google and Apple in recent years, a time Chromebooks have dominated the environment in U.S. schools.

Nearly 60 percent of all mobile computing devices shipped to U.S. schools in the fourth quarter of 2017 were Chromebooks, which uses Google’s operating system. Less than 26 percent were Windows-based.

Google introduced Classroom in 2014 as a place for teachers to hand out assignments and students to turn them in via productivity apps like Google Docs. Microsoft unveiled a similar tool two years later, but it has since retired.

Monday’s announcement comes more than a year after Microsoft announced its initial partnership with Flipgrid, a Minneapolis startup founded in 2015.