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EdTech Thoughts 6/20 - 6/26
A Coup d'etat in Piglinstown
Bonsoir from Paris!
While a bipartisan gun bill passed into US law this week, Roe vs. Wade was overturned. One step forward, two steps back. I encourage you to do whatever you can for your local (or national) women’s rights org. If you don’t have one yet, mine is Access Reproductive Justice, who are located in CA and help folks both within and outside CA receive care.
On a much less important note, EdTech Thoughts will be off next week and sporadic through July 31.
On to the news!
Funding / M&A / IPOs
Leap raises $75M: Leap’s various platforms provide test prep, financing, and university selection services to students around the world. The company has worked with 175K+ students over the past year, including facilitating Colorado State University’s MCIS program with students in India
Jobget raises $52M: It’s nice to have your assumptions reset every once in a while. I’ve long thought that a social media platform for blue-collar workers was out of reach. Twenty years in to Linkedin’s dominance of the professional social network world and neither they nor a competitor emerged with a solution for aggregating blue-collar jobs. And then, in the past two weeks, two companies raised $152M to focus on this demographic. Last week, it was Fountain, who raised $100M to get large employers bought in to managing their blue-collar workforce online. This week, it is Jobget, who has had 12M blue-collar workers sign up to use their platform
Wilco raises $7M: Wilco provides “game-like” workplace simulations such as “being notified via the workplace messaging app about a mysterious issue with the company’s application” to help junior employees practice both technical and soft skills.1 They are leaning into the junior employee training and assessment market HackerRank helped set the with their $60M fundraise back in March. What’s interesting to me is how these types of platforms/simulations evolve with greater market adoption, as forums and assessment prep companies spring up to help applicants navigate them
Neol raises $5M: Neol facilitates a membership community that it both upskills and deploys on paid consulting projects. The community is incentivized to bring in additional projects, training, and members via a Web3-driven ownership structure - sort of like a management consultancy with a more transparent partnership structure
Cinematic Health Education raises $4M: Cinematic Health provides video training content for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and other allied health professions. This round will be used to expand both their content portfolio and go-to-market team
Kibo School raises $2M: GSV cup-winner Kibo School provides Computer Science degrees to students in select cities of Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana for $6,000. Bucking the trend towards more asynchronous learning among online degree provides, Kibo creates consistent, live touchpoints for their students to keep them engaged. This starts with live project collaborations and extends to providing human mentors and even in-person meetups in Kibo’s target cities
Degreed acquires Learn In: Founded by David Blake in 2012, Degreed aggregates and sells professional learning content to employers. In 2018, Blake departed Degreed, though he remained Chairman of the board. In 2020, Blake raised venture capital as CEO of two new startups, Learn In and Book Club. Last year, Chris McCarthy, Blake’s chosen successor as Degreed CEO, stepped down for Dan Levin. Last week, Degreed announced that “Blake’s plans for the future of Degreed were divergent with the current direction”, so he would return as CEO of Degreed via the acquisition of Learn In
Marketing is great, evidence is better: ESSER funding appears to have provided an important stimulus to more EdTech organizations investing in increased efficacy research. Combined with organizations like Learn Platform lowering the financial hurdles to efficacy studies, “Sales is hearing it in the market: ‘We just lost this RFP to an organization that says they have evidence.’”
Moringa School raises Pre-A: Not included in the Funding section because they did not disclose the amount raised, but notable because the company publicly announced that they license US-based Flatiron School’s bootcamp curriculum to deliver technology bootcamp programs in Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria
SCOTUS on School Funding: Maine’s K12 student funding apparatus allowed public school tuition dollars to be spent at either public or private schools. The one exception to this rule was if a private school was “religiously affiliated.” The Supreme Court struck down this exception as “religious discrimination”
Keep Kids Fed Act: At the end of May, I wrote about universal school lunches hanging in the balance. The good news is that this bill would bring continued access to school meals through the end of the 2022-2023 school year. The bad news is that it would still be a stopgap measure rather than a full solution
Tuition Benefits make employees happier and more loyal: The case for increasing investment in continuing education continues grows stronger virtually every time someone studies it. 86% of employees covered by Tuition Benefits programs report being fairly or very happy with their employer. Additionally, 58% of employees who do not have access to tuition benefits report that they would feel more loyal to their employer if they were offered
Chinese EdTechs back in vogue(?): Bloomberg’s headline here is misleading. Former EdTech giant New Oriental (TAL)’s stock is rising because the company pivoted from a government-mandated shutdown of its tutoring business to a livestream e-commerce business that sells agricultural products and steaks.2 The for-profit Chinese EdTech sector remains in shambles
Ohio State trademarks “THE”: In a contentious battle between the university and fashion designed Marc Jacobs, Ohio State received trademark rights to the word “THE” on t-shirts, hats, and baseball caps. Personally, I would have fought for higher-margin sweatshirts and scarves, but this successful suit make me more confident in my own trademark case for the phrase “THOUGHTS?”
Moment of Zen
At 9PM Friday night I walked aboard Aer Lingus flight EI 114 wracked with anxiety at the thought that I would be spending twelve consecutive hours (six in flight, six due to time zones) in a cold metal tube, with no opportunity to better my workforce skills.
Imagine my relief when, upon scrolling through the in-flight entertainment, I came across the below:
Ultimately, I did not take advantage of this felicitous learning opportunity. Consistent with my taste in terrible plane movies, I watched Deadly Cuts, the (fictional) story of four hairdressers from Piglinstown, Ireland who - SPOILER ALERT! - brutally murder two local gangsters so that they can participate in Ireland’s famous “AhhHair!” American-Idol-for-hairdressing TV competition, and then fell asleep.
Ed Tech Thoughts is a short ( < 5 mins), weekly overview of the top stories in EdTech, with a few (hopefully interesting) gut reactions attached. If you enjoyed this edition, I hope you will subscribe and/or forward to your friends!
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These simulations are definitely, for sure, absolutely not…OK maybe a little…the first step to entering the Matrix
“Learning English” as a rationale for purchasing from this platform feels tenuous at best, though it is odd that the original video for this story is nearly impossible to find