EdTech News Roundup - Week of 1/24
A billion here and a billion there, pretty soon we'll be talking real money
This is part 2 of 3 announcements. Last week was more information on my new job. This week are my takeaways from the reader survey I ran in November. Next week will be an update on the goals of this newsletter.
The main point of the reader survey was to gauge whether there was appetite for more content and, if so, what it should focus on. Roughly 10% of you responded, which feels like a good enough sample size to draw conclusions.
The TLDR of the survey data:
83% were open to additional content
80%+ were interested in more company profiles, with slightly more interest in growth-stage companies
62% are interested in “most important hire we’ll make this year” profiles
Qualitative calls for increased coverage of the K12 market
Considering this feedback, I am going to attempt one additional piece of content per month on top of the weekly news roundups.1 This content will be mostly company profiles, but may occasionally be more talent-focused. I will also try to bring a little more K12 into the picture.
OK, enough of that. On to the news!
Funding / M&A / IPOs
Domestika raises $110M: Domestika provides a platform for online course creators to host their courses. Stories like Domestika’s are a reminder of how big the world is. For all the talk of creator-led and cohort-based courses over the past ~3 years in the Venture world, I had not heard of the press-shy Domestika before. Shame on me - Domestika has 8M users, 2/3 of whom have paid for a course on the platform!
ThriveDX (HackerU) raises $100M+: ThriveDX provides “digital skills training” to students in partnership university and/or corporate partners. While I’ve been relatively bearish on full-stack bootcamps, companies that license or franchise bootcamp content, like ThriveDX, Holberton, and FourthRev (which announced an $8M round this week as well), appear to be on a healthier trajectory
Mentor Collective raises $21M: Mentor Collective provides a platform for connecting its users, predominantly university students (for now), with volunteer mentors for support. Mentor Collective’s CEO, Jackson Boyar, highlighted how strongly he believes in the efficacy-led sales approach that took some time to develop, but allowed them to expand successfully during the pandemic period when many institutions were not taking calls from companies they hadn’t worked with before
Powerschool acquires Kinvolved: terms undisclosed. Powerschool is the top K12 LMS and Kinvolved is a K12-focused communications and attendance platform. After last summer’s IPO, Powerschool is no longer privately controlled by acquisition-hungry Vista Equity, but with last Fall’s acquistion of Kickboard alongside Kinvolved, it looks like the M&A checkbook is still open
JFF acquires EQOS: terms undisclosed. Educational Quality Outcomes Standards (EQOS) is sort of like an accreditor for alternative training programs like bootcamps. I applaud almost any effort to take on today’s incumbent accreditors, though, unfortunately most fall victim to the following problem:
4X growth in funding dollars in the US, to $8.2B2
3X growth in funding dollars in Europer, to $2.5B
6 EdTech IPOs, more IPOs than the previous 10 years combined
33 EdTech “unicorns” now in the market (not all minted in 2021)
However, there were a couple datapoints that stuck out. Deal volume dropped 13% from 2020 (31% from 2019’s 10-year high) and Venture rounds under $1M dropped 56% from 2020. This indicates there may be a company or funding gap (hard to say which definitively) in the earlier-stage parts of the market.
It is hard to say how flukey both the positive and negative aspects of the reports are. The pandemic pulled forward a lot of growth in 2020, which investors were eager to lean into in 2021. It also probably warped the decision-making of later-stage private and already-public companies.
A day in the life of a school principal, two years into this pandemic: a vivid description of how many balls principals are trying to juggle right now
What Web3 could mean for education: I poked fun at EdTech industry coverage of web3/crypto last week, so feel especially obligated to call out Edsurge for doing it well this week. This isn’t about whether the coverage is favorable/unfavorable, but that they attempted to take on some of the more complex issues of bringing web3 to the EdTech world
The US Tutoring Boom: this article focuses on the billions of US stimulus dollars being spent on both traditional and AI-driven tutoring. The stories aren’t connected, but it is kind of interesting to place this narrative in the context of last year’s wipeout of the for-profit tutoring market in China
The SAT goes digital: I don’t have anything original on this topic other than entertainment that whether or not test takers would continue to use a calculator was an important enough topic to make it into the announcement. This was an obvious change to a test that still has a lot of problems to solve if the College Board wants to continue to exist
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I try very hard to stay neutral here, but its important that you know my potential biases
You can hold me accountable for the news roundups, but I’m not going to be as religious about getting these non-news pieces out. Remember, this newsletter is a labor of love : )
Brighteye has this number at $9.3B, all these numbers should be considered directional. it is incredibly hard to put together private company data into a report like this and I give both firms credit for making the effort