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Sesame Street to invest in startups aimed at children

By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   Feb. 1, 2016 at 12:23 PM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Sesame Street is intersecting with Wall Street to create a venture capital arm to invest in startups focused on children's development, it announced Monday.

Sesame Workshop, which has produced children's educational programming and related offshoots since 1969 when Sesame Street debuted, announced Sesame Ventures will partner with other venture capital firms to "extend the brand," Sesame Workshop CEO Jeffrey Dunn said, and fund startup companies involved in children's education, nutrition and health.

Sesame Ventures' first alliance is with the Collaborative Fund, which will manage the Collab+Sesame Fund while Sesame Workshops will choose startups. Sesame Street's iconic characters have an option to star in the programming produced; possibilities range from apps aimed at childhood development to companies producing healthier food, Collaborative Fund CEO Craig Shapiro said Monday.

"The resources that the Workshop brings, whether around efficacy or research or distribution or marketing, I think is extremely compelling," Shapiro said.

Added Blake Mykoskie, founder of Toms Shoes and a Collaborative Fund investor, "What really stands out is that their brand is trusted and also resonates with parents and kids around the world."

Sesame Workshops launched the cable network Noggin with Nickelodeon in 1999 and was an investor in 2005 in Sprout, a cable channel aimed at preschoolers. It sold its stakes in those companies and is using some of the funding to begin Collab+Sesame.

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