EdTech News Roundup 4/11 - 4/17
Hi-Neighbor! Heard you are starting a daycare?
2 Programming notes:
the next 3 weeks of newslettering are a little up in the air because…I’m getting married! There will be no newsletter on 5/1. 4/24 and 5/8 are still up in the air — if I send a newsletter, it will be shorter than usual
The Penn GSE Business Plan Competition deadline is 4/29: Importantly, the prize for this competition is *non-dilutive* capital, the best kind of funding there is : )
On to the news!
Funding / M&A / IPOs
Galena raises $17M: Galena is a Brazil-based sales bootcamp (with plans to expand to other job verticals) founded by private equity vererans Eduardo Mufarej and Guilherme Luz. Eduardo and Guilherme come with the multibillion dollar EdTech exit of Somos Education under their belts, which brought a collection of great investors to the table, including Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig. In an interesting departure from many US-based bootcamps, Galena targets 18-24 year-old non-degree-holders for their programs
WeeCare raises $12M: WeeCare helps employers provide childcare benefits to employees. The startup differs from market leader Bright Horizons by maintaining a network of “approved” providers rather than providing daycare centers themselves. This follows the “asset light” approached favored by software investors, but likely requires deeper market penetration of childcare benefits from employers1
Neighbor Schools raises $5M: Neighbor Schools also provides a network of “approved” childcare providers, but via a B2C approach. They also help new childcare providers set up shop, as much as “3 times faster and 4 times more successfully.”
Handshake acquires Talentspace: US-based Handshake connects college students (and alumni) with employers, with 21M+ people in their network to date. Berlin-based Talentspace builds “recruiting experiences” (also known as career fairs) for companies in Europe, including Porsche and Amazon. Coming ~3 months after raising $200M, this acquisition feels like a fairly logical extension of both product and go-to-market channel for Handshake. I would not be surprised to see the company grow more acquisitive, particularly internationally, over the next few years
Go1 acquires Corpacademy: Australia-based Go1 provides a library of professional development content to employers. While they’ve been around since 2015, last summer’s $200M round pushed them to the forefront of the global scene. While the release says Corpacademy’s technology and content will be integrated with Go1, this acquisition appears to be mostly about giving Go1 a distribution foothold in the European market
SkillStorm acquires TalentPath: SkillStorm provides vocation-oriented (largely tech) training programs for employers and government organization looking to build their workforces. TalentPath, owned by Achieve Partners, has a similar focus and this acquisition appears to be a doubling-down of the thesis that the market for these types of programs will continue to grow
We throw around the term “differentiated” too much in the higher ed space. The reality is that most 4-year colleges are not that different from one another. Some are picky and some are not, but the core product experienced by most students is the same liberal arts degree of oft-debated vocational impact.
There are a number of efforts in the HBCU space attempting to break this stranglehold of sameness.
Paul Quinn College’s President, Michael Sorrell, is one of those leading the charge.2 After taking the president’s role in 2007, Sorrell rebuilt the college into a “Work College” where it is a requirement that students work while enrolled in classes. With Paul Quinn’s home campus in Dallas achieving record enrollment numbers, Sorrell now wants to open a network of satellite campuses to bring the Work College model to more geographies (there are only 9 total in the US, with the largest enrolling just 1600 students).
Sorrell is not alone though - the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) also recently announced HBCUv. In a departure from most online learning initiatives, HBCUv is a collaborative effort rather than a singular one. It may become a “mega” university in the sense that tens of thousands of students access the network, but it will do so by embracing the diversity of school cultures involved in the initiative.
I’m sure there are more examples of new models from both HBCUs and non-HBCUs. Not all of them will work. However, we are at as good a time as any to be trying them. It sounds a lot more compelling to test new models than contribute to the dogfight of traditional enrollment during a demographic cliff.
Jacobs Foundation puts $44M to bring more evidence/research to EdTech: In another instance of venture fund LPs uncharacteristically announcing themselves, the Jacobs Foundation named each of the nine EdTech funds they are working with and their desire to see more research rigor brought to EdTech products
Doordash dashpass for students: The days of trekking uphill through sleet for late night pizza are over. In details that make me chuckle, the only quotes in the article are from DoorDash employees, which feels very one-sided. I want to know what Brookings thinks about this tectonic shift in the eating habits of college students!3
Williams College makes financial aid program grant-only: tired of playing | second | fiddle | in | the | headlines to Amherst, Williams did something pretty great - all financial aid for students now comes in the form of grants.4 In the same announcement, Williams announced its 2022 school year sticker price will now be your third-born child (just kidding, its $77,300)
Before winning students, Alberto Carvalho needs teachers: this is a heartbreaking example of the challenge of surviving today getting in the way of preparing for tomorrow in the public school systems. About a month ago, I applauded LAUSD superintendent Carvalho’s initiative to “win” students back into public school classrooms. I hold out hope that he will be able to do that, but his attention will be split trying to fill 400 classroom teaching, and thousands of non-classroom, positions
Thing(s) I’m Thinking About
Time Poverty; follow-up here
The rise of Guild brought a lot of attention to the tuition benefits space, an important win for making a college degree accessible to a larger swath of the US population. Unfortunately, usage of tuition benefits by eligible employees hovers in the 2% range and rarely exceeds 5%.
There is a pretty obvious reason for this low uptake. Today, most companies force tuition benefits to be used outside of the work day. That puts this benefit out of reach for all but a (usually privileged) few.
Is there a set of circumstances, either economic or policy-driven, in which employees could continue their education during work hours?
Ed Tech Thoughts is a short ( < 5 mins), weekly overview of the top stories in EdTech, with my gut reactions attached. If you enjoyed this edition, I hope you will subscribe and/or forward to your friends!
If I missed something, or there is a topic you’d like to learn more about, I encourage you to submit a story! Submissions can be named or anonymous
Michael Sorrell’s story is a good one. To hear it in audio form, I encourage you to check out this interview
If they are busy the next time a topic of this importance comes up, I humbly submit my candidacy for quotation. It will probably be something along the lines of, “man, college. what a time.”
Full disclosure, I am an Amherst alum. Go Mammoths!