Now we know what these former National Geographic execs are up to - DC


Sep. 16, 2015 7:54 am

Now we know what these former National Geographic execs are up to

“We can put kids at the heart of a volcano, and we can send them five miles deep into the ocean.”

Planet3 wants to encourage "exploration-based learning."

(Screenshot via

Earlier this year, a mysteriously-named company founded by two former National Geographic executives and an exploration scientist declared raising $8 million to the SEC.

They’ve just unveiled their planetary ambitions.

The company, now named Planet3, seeks to place 3D exploration technology at the hands of students.

“We can put kids at the heart of a volcano, and we can send them five miles deep into the ocean,” said CEO Tim Kelly, a former president of National Geographic who helped the organization expand its video offerings and embrace digital media.

Now he hopes to reach children where they are.

With the advent of digital tools, he said, “There’s an opportunity now to change and improve K-12 [education].”

Planet3, a Unity 3D platform that will be compatible with tablets, laptops and handheld devices, will immerse students in different environments on Earth and provide them with learning activities.

The platform will be data-driven, said Kelly. It will use the latest numbers from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other research organizations.

The company, based in Cleveland Park and with other offices scattered throughout the country, including La Jolla, Calif., and Austin, Texas, hopes to release the technology in the fall of 2016, sold on a subscription basis to schools and school districts.

Planet3 announced Thursday that it has raised a $10 million Series A round from Nevada-based data center developer Switch. The company has a total of 35 employees, led by an impressive team of C-Suite executives.

Kelly’s cofounders are Chief Science Officer Albert Yu-Min Lin, a technology-enabled exploration scientist at the University of California, San Diego and Chief Creative Officer Vijay Lakshman, a video game executive and the former executive director of the National Geographic Society. Chief Learning Officer Kelly McGrath used to lead K-12 science curriculum development at Pearson, and Chief Technology Officer Royal O’Brien is the founder of video-game streaming technology company BitRaider.


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