Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

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Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. is a Scottish-founded American company known for publishing the Encyclopædia Britannica, the world's oldest continuously published encyclopaedia, as well as extensive digital efforts—including text and audiovisual—that are aimed at educational tools for primary and secondary schools, and for everyday learners accessing information through online search.

Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Founded1768; 252 years ago (1768)
Edinburgh, Scotland, Great Britain
FounderColin Macfarquhar
Andrew Bell
Country of originScotland
Headquarters locationChicago, Illinois, U.S.
Key peopleJacqui Safra, President,[1]
Karthik Krishnan, Global CEO[2]
Owner(s)Jacqui Safra
No. of employeesAbout 400 (300 in Chicago, 100 worldwide)[3]
Official websitewww.britannica.com


Current location in Chicago

Founding, and Sears Roebuck stewardshipEdit

The company was founded in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 18th century, during the historical period termed the Scottish Enlightenment.[citation needed] A printer, Colin Macfarquhar, and an engraver, Andrew Bell, formed a partnership to create a new book that would "embody the new spirit of scholarship".[This quote needs a citation] William Smellie was engaged to edit the original three-volume work, the volumes of which were published one at a time, beginning in 1768.[citation needed] The reputation of the encyclopaedia grew with the publication of the first and subsequent volumes.[according to whom?][citation needed]

In 1920, the trademark and publication rights were sold to Sears Roebuck.[citation needed] The twelth edition of the encyclopedia was published in 1922-1923, the thirteenth edition was published in 1926, and a thoroughly revised edition, the fourteenth, was published in 1929.[citation needed] By the mid-1930s, the company headquarters had moved to Chicago, Illinois, in the United States.[citation needed] The editorial staff were now no longer disbanded after the completion of a new edition, but kept on as a permanent editorial department,[citation needed] "to keep pace with the rapid increase in knowledge at the time".[This quote needs a citation] Beginning in 1936, a new printing of the encyclopaedia was published each year, incorporating latest updates.[citation needed] In 1938, the first edition of the Britannica Book of the Year appeared,[citation needed] an annual supplement that continues to be published, as of this date.[when?][citation needed]

Sears Roebuck sold Britannica in 1943.[citation needed]

Benton family stewardshipEdit

William Benton acquired Encyclopædia Britannica in 1943, and published it from that year until his death in 1973.[citation needed] He also acquired Electrical Research Products Inc. Classroom Films, renaming it Encyclopædia Britannica Films.[citation needed][when?] In 1947, Britannica released 10 Eventful Years, a compendium of World War II, in 4 volumes.[citation needed] In 1952, Britannica published Great Books of the Western World, a 54-volume set of the "great books" of Western culture.[citation needed] Britannica acquired publishing rights to Compton's Encyclopedia in 1961.[citation needed] Britannica acquired Merriam-Webster Inc. in 1964, and has maintained it as a subsidiary.[4][third-party source needed]

After the death of Benton's widow Helen Benton in 1974, the Benton Foundation continued to manage the Britannica.[citation needed] In 1976, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission entered an order enjoining Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. from using deceptive advertising practices in recruiting sales agents and obtaining sales leads, and from using deceptive sales practices in the door-to-door presentations of its sales agents.[5]:421-541[page needed][full citation needed][non-primary source needed]

Safra stewardshipEdit

Britannica was sold in 1996,[citation needed] its purchaser being a financier based in Switzerland, Jacqui Safra, the nephew of the billionaire banker, Edmund Safra.[6][better source needed]

The company experienced financial stress in 2003, as reported by the New York Post, with employees being told in December that Britannica "would raise the contribution paid into their 401(k) accounts, then eliminated them entirely."[6][7][8][better source needed] In the period since, the Post reported that, "freelance contributors have waited six months for checks, with staff going years without raises".[6][better source needed] The Post also reported that "[c]ost-cutting measures have included mandates to use free photos".[6][better source needed] Britannica spokesperson Tom Panelas—referred to as a "flack" by the Post—told the newspaper, "We've had some cost reductions and belt-tightening but we're not going into details" because, the Post reports he said, "We're a privately held company."[6][better source needed] The short Post report concludes that Britannica appeared "strapped for cash" at that time, with "[c]reditors... circling Jacqui's Encyclopedia Britannica company after going unpaid for months".[6][better source needed]

Fall of 2017, Karthik Krishnan was appointed global chief executive officer of the Encyclopaedia Britannica Group.[citation needed] Krishnan "brought a fresh perspective to the role based on several business leadership roles in consumer and B2B media, including... Reed Elsevier... and Rodale, driving business and cultural transformation, and accelerating growth."[9][verification needed][third-party source needed] Krishnan, an adjunct professor at New York University's Stern School of Business as of this date,[when?][10][verification needed] has stated a belief in the "transformative power of education".[This quote needs a citation] Company matching of employee 401K contributions was reinstated under Krishnan's leadership.[when?][citation needed]

Krishnan began his leadership of the company as it prepared to mark its 250th anniversary and 25th year on the Internet.[11][verification needed][third-party source needed] His stated aim was to define the next phase of its digital strategy for "everyday learners" (consumers), and K-12 schools.[11][verification needed][third-party source needed] He launched a series of new initiatives tied to two themes, the elevation of better information in the digital universe, and the transformation of learning inside and outside the classroom.[citation needed]

The first was Britannica Insights, in 2018, a free Google Chrome extension aimed at helping searchers using Google, Yahoo, and Bing to "cut through the clutter, save time, [and] learn more", through increased confidence in the reliability of results on these search engines.[12][verification needed] The purpose was to "provide trusted, verified information" in conjunction with search results that were thought to be increasingly unreliable in the era of misinformation and "fake news",[This quote needs a citation] an effort which has received attention from Wired.com.[13] That product was followed by Britannica School Insights, to provide similar content for subscribers to Britannica's online classroom solutions.[citation needed] A partnership with YouTube.com also followed, which sought to fight conspiracy theories on the platform through presentation of Britannica-verified content in YouTube search results and in tiles below videos.[14][verification needed] Also launched in 2018 were the products Curiosity Day and Curiosity Compass, which mark the 250th anniversary of the company's founding, and the 25th anniversary of its online presence.[15][verification needed]

Britannica launched LumieLabs early in 2019, which aimed to help "Students Become Digital Storytellers".[16][verification needed][third-party source needed] The product is described as a groundbreaking and easy to use video-production platform that promotes 21st century skills including media literacy, curiosity, creativity, and collaboration,[citation needed] and it won the 2020 Teacher's Choice Award for classroom.[clarification needed][17][verification needed] In Summer of 2019, Britannica enhanced its LaunchPacks platform with Learning Strategies, which makes it easier for teachers to help students develop inquiry, and close reading and summarization skills, and so to meet Common Core mandates.[18][verification needed] Guardians of History launched in Fall of 2019 as a voice- and AI-driven choose-your-own adventure for children.[19] That launch led to Britannica being recognized as a Top 20 brand in voice innovation.[20][verification needed] PUKU, a vocabulary-building app for children, also launched in 2019.[21][verification needed][third-party source needed] The new app was aimed at empowering students with adaptive learning, and custom word lists, and gave them a virtual pet.[21][verification needed][third-party source needed] The app was the Winner of 2019 Summer Awards for Best New Mobile App.[clarification needed][22][verification needed]

In 2020, Britannica was recognized as a top company to watch in the educational technology space in EdTech Digest's "State of the Edtech 2019-2020" report, and Krishnan was recognized as one of the top 100 global influencers in Global Education Technology.[23][24][verification needed] Also as of 2020, Britannica appears on the list of "Best Places to Work", with an employee approval of greater than 80%, more than 20% above the average reported by that organization.[25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Encyclopedia Britannica Group Appoints Kathik Krishnan as Global Chief Executive Officer" (Press release). Encyclopedia Britannica Group. 12 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Our Team". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  3. ^ Smith, William C. (February 2, 2004). "Venerable tomes go digital". The National Law Journal: P8.
  4. ^ "Merriam-Webster dictionary | History & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  5. ^ "FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION DECISIONS" (PDF). www.ftc.gov. 1976. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Entertainment". Entertainment.excite.com. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  7. ^ "Excite - Page Six". web.archive.org. August 21, 2004. Archived from the original on 2004-08-21.
  8. ^ "Cash-shy Britannica", New York Post, 11 September 2003.
  9. ^ Group, Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Encyclopaedia Britannica Group Appoints Karthik Krishnan as Global Chief Executive Officer". www.prnewswire.com.
  10. ^ Professor, -Adjunct Assistant. "NYU Stern - Karthik Krishnan - Adjunct Assistant Professor". www.stern.nyu.edu.
  11. ^ a b Group, Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Encyclopaedia Britannica to Mark 250th Anniversary and 25th Year on the Internet". www.prnewswire.com.
  12. ^ Marotti, Ally. "Google results aren't always accurate. Encyclopaedia Britannica's new Chrome extension could help". chicagotribune.com.
  13. ^ "Britannica Insights Is a Chrome Extension to Fix False Google Results" – via www.wired.com.
  14. ^ "YouTube now displays facts below conspiracy theory videos". Big Think. August 8, 2018.
  15. ^ Group, Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Britannica launches "Curiosity Day" to Empower your mind, Embolden your heart, and Discover your Curiosity". www.prnewswire.com.
  16. ^ "Britannica LumieLabs Helps Students Become Digital Storytellers; Groundbreaking Video-Production Platform Promotes Media Literacy, Curiosity, Creativity, Collaboration". PRWeb.
  17. ^ "2020 Teachers' Choice Awards Classroom Winners" (PDF). www.plt.org. 2020. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  18. ^ GmbH, finanzen net. "Britannica Learning Strategies Builds Student Literacy Skills | Markets Insider". markets.businessinsider.com.
  19. ^ "Guardians of History: Britannica's new choice-driven historical adventures — @joycevalenza NeverEndingSearch". blogs.slj.com.
  20. ^ "The Top 20 Brand Leaders in Voice 2019". Voicebot.ai. September 20, 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Britannica blends curiosity, excitement and learning with voice app "Guardians of History"". PRWeb.
  22. ^ "Puku: Learn New Words Mobile App | The Best Mobile App Awards". bestmobileappawards.com.
  23. ^ "State of EdTech 2019-2020".
  24. ^ "EdTech Digest Names Britannica the #1 Company to Watch and CEO as One of the 100 Influencers". Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Corporate Site.
  25. ^ Work, Great Place to. "Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Inc". Great Place To Work United States.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit