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EdTech News Roundup - Week of 5/24
What is a Community College?
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
While I’m still posting today, having the extra time to relax this weekend reminded me how important time off will be this summer. I’m going to post for the next two weeks, then take the later part of June and early July off from this newsletter. But I reserve the right to contradict myself if something interesting happens : )
Hope y’all are putting together plans to re-charge this summer too - it’s been a long 15 (ish?) months of COVID and we all need it.
On to the news!
Fundraising / M&A
Riid labs raises $175M from Softbank: Riid is mostly known for their Test Prep app, Santa, which is used by 2.5M students in Korea and Japan. This round “will be used to expand products and geographies” and Marten Roorda, former CEO of ACT, is joining the Riid team as Chief Measurement and Learning Officer1
Eruditus “seeking” $2.5B valuations: Last week I wrote about how I often fall prey to a US-centric EdTech worldview. This article is another reminder of how different markets operate. In the US, we mostly write/read about fundraising that has already happened. In this case, Eruditus is using their media attention proactively, to raise!
Vemo acquires Edmit: terms undisclosed. See “Stories” below for more thoughts!
Vemo acquires Edmit (same link as above)
Vemo is, probably, the best-known provider of Income-share agreements (ISAs) in the EdTech market.2 Edmit, 2 years younger as a company than Vemo, sought to be the leading player in what I’ll call “informed college choice”, with a specific emphasis on helping prospective students understand the ROI of attending any given institution in the US.
At their core, Vemo and Edmit are attacking a similar question: is College X healthy financially?
Vemo answers this question in conjunction with College X, offering ISAs as one way in which they might better manage their finances. Semi-famously, Edmit tried to publish their detailed answers, before being threatened with legal action from a number of schools, and now answers a bit more generally.
Sharing this core principle would seem to be a good indicator for overall fit. There is some danger in trying to integrate a B2C business into a traditionally B2B one, but the plan appears to be that the two organizations will run mostly independently:
In her profile on Unmudl (above link), Edsurge’s Rebecca Koenig calls attention to the problem many community colleges (CCs) have had keeping up with the HED online arms race. This is highly related to the question I asked last week, in light of the news that CCs in Arizona are preparing to offer bachelor’s degrees:
what is a community college? Is it strictly 2-year schools offering Associate’s degrees? Is it an adult-serving institution? Is it a job/skills engine for the local economy?
While neither Acadeum nor Unmudl solve that existential problem, they both are hard at work helping CCs across the country share resources.
Acadeum, which started working on their course-sharing marketplace in 2016 and recently raised $5M, has the more straightforward deal here. They have partnered with the League for Innovation in Community Colleges (LICC) to offer a course-sharing consortium to any of their members. This means a student at any LICC member institution could take a course at any other LICC member institution, if both have agreed to join the consortium. Right now, only 5 of “several hundred” members have signed up, but I expect that number will grow.
Unmudl, announced ~2 years ago but launching now, is attempting a similar feat with a set of community colleges concentrated in Arizona, New Mexico, and Washington.3 However, while Acadeum offers almost entirely for-credit, college-level courses, Unmudl offers everything from ESL and Real Estate short courses to Commercial Truck Driving Licensure. Candidly, it seems like a lot of stakeholders to take on and a lot of products on offer.
I’m ready to call this a trend. Sadly, we may see a delay among private institutions instituting similar policies due to the budget pressures induced by COVID, but the rationale for keeping legacy preferences looks increasingly dicey.
I’ll be reading more on this topic!
Things I’d like to learn more about
“The Long Chin” was the most provocative article I read this week. The author, Dror Poleg, writes about how the internet changes income distribution assumptions among “creators” (musicians, gamers, newsletter writers(!), etc.). I’m thinking about whether/how this impacts my mental framework for creator-driven businesses like Maven and OnDeck
I never know how much to read into appointments like this. Marten may be mostly an evangelist in the EU (where he is from and worked prior to joining ACT in 2015) and US OR could be deeply involved in the product roadmap. I have a hard time evaluating, at least for the first couple years on the job.
This is a guess - there is very little publicly available information on the size of any players in the ISA space
It’s kind of an odd set of initial partners, also including SUNY Broome. I’d love any insights on how the group came together
I’m sure there are others too, but these were the ones that came up in my (admittedly quick) research on the topic