Local ed-tech firm acquired by industry goliath, to keep local presence

February 16, 2018

VeriCite Inc., a Fishers-based maker of plagiarism-detection software, is being acquired by Turnitin, a Silicon Valley-based leader in the plagiarism-detection industry.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

VeriCite officials stressed that its six full-time employees will remain with Turnitin, and the company will maintain—and grow—its local presence.

“This isn’t just about a local company being acquired,” said VeriCite Chairman Ray Henderson, who will stay with Turnitin as a consultant. “This is about a prominent Silicon Valley company now having its office here and putting down roots to grow.”

VeriCite, which was spun off from Cleveland-based education software firm Longsight LLC in 2016 and moved to Launch Fishers last year, has quickly amassed a considerable client list.

“VeriCite is a company that launched as a competitor to an industry-leading incumbent [Turnitin], and had great success,” Henderson said. “In less than two years, it has 175 colleges and universities as clients.”

Turnitin, which has 350 employees, finds the Indianapolis area market a good place to grow due to the “quality of life and local talent here,” Henderson told IBJ.

“Indianapolis has become a very prominent ed-tech [educational technology] community,” Henderson said. “It’s attractive to Turnitin because it’s a rich place to recruit [employees] and because of the very strong local incentives and low-cost incubator space that have helped bring a lot of tech companies to town.”

Henderson credited the Indiana Economic Development Corp. for creating an ideal climate to grow companies like VeriCite and Turnitin. 

Turnitin officials could not be reached for comment. 

But in a release Turnitin indicated VeriCite’s assets became too considerable to ignore.

“VeriCite has established itself as a leader in providing originality checking tools that provide tight integrations into [learning management system] workflows and a smooth customer experience. I’m excited for our future product offerings to combine these strengths with the accuracy and scale of Turnitin’s plagiarism prevention services,” Turnitin CEO Chris Caren said in a statement.  

“I’m also thrilled to welcome the VeriCite leadership team and staff to Turnitin. VeriCite CEO Valerie Schreiner, who previously held senior-level positions at Elluminate, Blackboard, and Schoolzilla, will bring a wealth of ed-tech leadership to our organization. Ed-tech veteran Ray Henderson, who served as VeriCite’s board chairman, will become an advisor to Turnitin,” Caren added.

Turnitin will honor VeriCite customers’ existing pricing and terms for functionally-equivalent plagiarism detection services, Schreiner said, adding that the merger will mean more options for VeriCite clients in the long run.

Schreiner said that post-merger: “VeriCite customers will have the option to continue using a basic originality checking solution or to upgrade to a more comprehensive academic integrity package.” 

VeriCite’s software relies on the public cloud—using Amazon Web Services in particular—and complies with open tech standards for education that were developed in 2014 and meant to help software and applications from different creators integrate.

That means VeriCite can plug into existing education platforms, giving professors or teachers the ability to automatically check assignments for plagiarism. Schools also can make the software available to students to check their own work.




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