Yellowbrick Acquires Leading Online Animation School and Secures Sony Innovation Funding

The acquisition further cements the company’s progress in the online education space.

Two strategic moves have been announced that will further cement IndieWire education partner Yellowbrick’s reputation as a leading learning platform for the creative economy.

First, Yellowbrick has secured an investment from Sony Innovation Fund by IGV, which invests in technology-driven companies now shaping the future of business, entertainment, and society.

Additionally, Yellowbrick has acquired Animation Mentor, regarded as the leading online animation school, and founded by Bobby Beck, Shawn Kelly, and Carlos Baena, renowned professional animators behind some of the biggest hits from Walt Disney Feature Animation, Pixar Animation Studios, and Industrial Light & Magic. Animation Mentor was launched in 2005 to address the need for industry-trained animators, uniting students with industry professionals in a production environment. Animation Mentor has an alumni community of over 5,000 students throughout 105 countries; now working in world-class studios like Pixar, DreamWorks, Industrial Light & Magic, Laika, WETA and many more.

As the demand for creator-centric tools and platforms has grown, so too has the demand for educational opportunities that offer industry knowledge that help creative entrepreneurs succeed. Yellowbrick has emerged as a leader in this space due to its strong partnerships with academic leaders like New York University, Parsons, and FIT, along with major media brands including IndieWire and Rolling Stone, which are both owned by Penske Media Corporation. Yellowbrick learners — from the high-school level to NBA stars — have gone on to build creative business ventures large and small.

“Yellowbrick’s focus on growing the creator economy through education fits with our mission to support promising startups who bring creative and promising innovations to the world,” said Gen Tsuchikawa, CEO and chief investment officer at Sony Innovation Fund by IGV. “The team has developed high-quality educational content that has attracted top universities and marquee brands to develop the next generation of creators. Additionally, their focus on education and promoting diversity through their work with corporations to bring opportunities to underrepresented students, aligns with our ESG efforts.”

“We sought to create the kind of instruction and mentorship program that we never had when we were starting out, and that dream became a reality as we’ve taught thousands of aspiring animators and seen many of them become rising stars in their own right,” said Bobby Beck, CEO of Animation Mentor. “Now, in joining the Yellowbrick platform, we’re able to take what we’ve built and expand that experience to other creative industries like Film, Music, Design, Fashion — the areas in which Yellowbrick has already seen so much success.”

“Over the past 20 years, great strides have been made in STEM education with flexible bootcamp offerings and online learning. However, with much of the focus placed on technical fields, the ‘A’ for ‘Arts’ — which transforms STEM into the more comprehensive ‘STEAM’ — has often been underrepresented. That’s where Yellowbrick comes in to fill that educational gap,” said Rob Kingyens, president and CEO of Yellowbrick. “The Sony Innovation Fund by IGV shares our vision and has come aboard as a great partner at the same time that the team from Animation Mentor is joining our ranks. Together, we’ll continue to transform education as it relates to creative fields and the creator economy.”

IndieWire and Rolling Stone partnered with Yellowbrick and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for the launch last year of “Film and TV Industry Essentials,” a four-part online education series for aspiring film and TV storytellers.

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