Olivia Wilde and Gus Van Zant Ink Deals With Learnist

Popular smartphone app attracts big names

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Learnist, an app that's grown to three million monthly active users in less than two years, is ready to test the so-called freemium market. For the uninitiated, "freemium" is a tactic in which a mobile app is offered for free before monetizing it through premium content.

The San Francisco-based company forged deals with director Gus Van Sant, actress Olivia Wilde, designer Danny Forster, MythBusters TV host Kari Byron, former NFL star Dhani Jones and author Brad Meltzer. The public figures are supplying one to two hours of multimedia content, which will be sold à la carte to Learnist users for $1. For the endeavor, the startup has also partnered with content sources such as the BBC, Discovery Digital, Stitcher, SnagFilms, TripFilms, NFTE, Lynda.com and Udemy.

Terms of the arrangements were not disclosed. 

Some of the content will be available today, according to Aaron Burcell, Learnist's marketing vp, adding that "the rest will be available in the days and weeks ahead."

Learnist offers educational-content-sharing features to consumers primarily through its smartphone app, though it also has a website. The firm hasn't turned a profit, but is backed by Atlas Venture, Benchmark Capital, Discovery Communications, Inc., GSV Capital, Integral Capital Partners and New Schools Ventures.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.