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EdTech News Roundup - Week of 1/17
What if Dom Toretto had a brother?
Workshop is a Venture Studio. A Venture Studio is like a venture fund, but focused on the earliest days of a company’s life and involves a much more hands-on approach. We liken the experience of working with us to adding a co-founder to the team.
When a company “joins the studio”, it means that we’ve scoped out a ~12 month engagement where Workshop team members - like me! And folks with technical backgrounds, depending on what is needed - play an active role with the company. At the conclusion of the engagement, we stay active but start to look more like traditional investors.
I wish I had more space to write about the model, but you’ll have to trust me that Workshop is an exciting place to be!
Our #1 need right now is talent - current entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, and folks who want to be employees #1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of amazing companies. If this sounds like you, or anyone in your network, I hope you’ll reach out.
On to the news!
Fundings / M&A / IPOs
Pretty quiet week on the funding front, though there was one big raise and one interesting acquisition:
Handshake raises $200M: Handshake partners with US universities to provide connections with employers. They will use this round to pursue the lofty goal of replacing LinkedIn as the go-to platform for building a career
Edly acquires Avenify: Edly, a marketplace for Income Share Agreements (ISAs), is acquiring Avenify, an ISA-provider focused on nursing students. There is a lot happening in the student loan space right now, including on ISAs specifically. I’m still working out what it all means to the businesses operating in the space
I spent most of today at 30,000 feet. I’ll admit, my secret plane vice is watching Fast & Furious movies. Doesn’t matter which one, just feed me fast car scenes and Vin Diesel talking about family.
In the latest installment, twenty years and eleven movies after the original, we learn that Vin Diesel’s character has a brother. ASU’s entry into the MOOC game gives me similar “where did this guy come from?” vibes.
There was a fair amount of feedback, framed best by Phil Hill, that ASU’s 100M learner goal in 10 years was lofty in comparison to other MOOCs. I’ll let others debate that and focus on a few of the details of the announcement that intrigued me:
“The program will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to teach and grade”
—> this sounds demonstrably different from the lecture video origin pedagogies of the other MOOCs
“This year the initiative will attempt to reach students in Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Indonesia, Egypt, India, Senegal, Brazil and Vietnam in their native languages”
—> this is a remarkably specific hypothesis on which emerging economies would benefit from a MOOC, which, notably, does not have India as the center of gravity like Coursera and edX
“Mr. Thigo said the credential tied to the courses is likely to resonate with African students, especially if it can be leveraged to borrow money from a bank and build a business.”
—> An emerging-economy fintech/edtech partnership would be fascinating
The $25M that is anchoring ASU’s MOOC play is large amount of money to start any business, though it is, obviously, smaller than the hundreds of millions that Coursera and edX consumed to get where they are. That said, there is some interesting strategy here!
I get irrational amusement out of reading non-crypto/financial industry coverage of crypto-related news.
These articles usually goes something like this: “So, like, there is this blockchain. And the part people like about it is that it is non-fungible - it literally can’t be funged due to the computer network. Also, it takes a LOT of gas. In fact, 75 people did the accounting of it (not us, we didn’t have the time) and 50% agree it’s bad for the environment. But yeah, so, [organization X] decided it was good PR and free money to sell [esoteric item Y]/accept [random coin Z] and immediately convert the proceeds to suitcases full of hundred-dollar bills.”
This characterization is a bit unfair - everyone is just trying to do their job and explore a new thing. But, to understand where Berkeley lands in this story, the last line was the most indicative:
“NFTs likely won’t be around forever, [Berkeley’s counsel, Jeremy] Coffey said. “But they are certainly a potential source of revenue right now.”
HED Enrollment consolidation to SNHU, WGU, & Liberty: both non-profit and for-profit universities are going to have to continue dealing with this trend until they have a clear and succinct answer to why students should pick them ahead of these three heavyweights, or the handful of other “mega” online universities
University of Arizona < > Zovio partnership unravelling: the next few years are going to show a lot about public < > private partnership. In addition to this deal, we should be watching the progression of Purdue < > Kaplan, UMass < > Brandman, and Arkansas < > Grantham, among others
Yale open first new School in 40 years: the Yale School of Global Affairs
Thing(s) I’m thinking about
This seems…bad. But I have not seen any coverage outside of this tweet/article, so I’m not quite sure what to make of it yet. If you read anything or know anyone with greater detail on this decision, please send them my way.
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I try very hard to stay neutral here, but its important that you know my potential biases