EdTech News Round up - Week of 3/8/21
The gang talks about Coursera
As some of you know, Brady, Clayton, Lee, Tess, and I have been chatting on Clubhouse on Friday afternoons, breaking down the week’s EdTech news. It’s a quick hour - from 3-4pm ET - where we roll through what we think are the hot topics of the week.
For those who actually work on Friday afternoons, I usually post a Tweet thread (this week’s) afterwards with links to what we talked about. This email is a slightly longer take on each topic, formatted for weekend perusing.
This distro is small, selected for folks who I’m hopeful will engage with it every so often, either 1:1 or in the comments. I made it paid to lock down the email list, not to make money - if you have someone who would be a good add, send me a note!
On to the news!
The topic du jour this week, Coursera is an impressive business. There are several great write-ups on it, so I’m not going to go into too much detail here other than to point out the macro elements that stuck out the most to me:
Stackable credentials: popular in punditry, not often found in practice outside of healthcare. To their credit, Coursera didn’t even call their product suite stackable, yet made it painfully obvious how well they were executing on it as a strategy. Guided projects —> Courses —> Specializations —> Certs —> Degrees. Same funnel, regardless of where you came in the door (see bullet #3)
$2,000 CAC: as we get more public OPX companies, I hope someone (:eyes emoji: ThirtyTwoEdu) is able to put together a CAC index. Suffice to say $2K/student for a degree program is impressive
Leverage on brand: Coursera is monetizing their pool of consumers along 4 different verticals - Consumer, Business, University, and Government. I’d like to see the usage rates on their “Learning Library” adoptions, but having diverse revenue sources can only be an advantage as things shake out in HED post-COVID
NYU’s Scott Galloway, writer of post-pandemic books before the pandemic actually ends and stock-picking fame, has an EdTech company. I kid (sort of) about the book and stock picks. He does actually have an EdTech company though.
Our group was generally positive on the premise - cheaper business school lessons taught by leading academics on an easy-to-use tech platform. One of us took a course and endorsed the pedagogical style, which Galloway claims results in 70%+ completion rates.
It is, of course, early in this company’s life. There are a couple reasons for skepticism (among them, Techcrunch calls the courses “mind expanding”), but striking a differentiated balance between edutainment and outcomes has a potentially massive market available to it (see Coursera above).
A person sufficiently qualified to be described as a knower of things in education recently said to me, “Everyone is interested in buying or selling bootcamps right now and I can’t figure out what that means.”
Count Paul LeBlanc in that “Everyone”. This acquisition surprised me given Kenzie raised a $100M debt facility ~15 months ago. Usually a non-announced sale price is not a great omen, but this could be different given they are both non-profits.
Who knows, but seeing how effective the SNHU brand is in growing Kenzie’s audience will be a good barometer for the space as a whole, which, to my eye, boils down to two things right now:
Trilogy and FullStack appear to be cleaning up in the B2U space.
We’ve yet to see a big exit from an own-branded bootcamp provider.
Disclosure that we own Dev Mountain and Hackbright, but I am not basing the above on privileged information - it could be completely wrong! If right, it does warp how I would think about building a bootcamp business though. To be continued…
Early-stage EdTech is hard. Sadly, it feels like many of the for-profit players are moving later-stage or exiting the space, without many new players to replace them. I was happy to see the LL team put this together and will also call out 2 other, newer funds keeping the early-stage flywheel moving - Pathway Ventures and Firework Ventures.
For completeness, that leaves us with LL, Pathway, Firework, Learn Start, Village Capital, WGU Labs, and ASU in the early stages. I think Emerson, ECMC, and Strada will consider earlier companies, but prefer somewhat later stages. Any others that should be on this list?