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EdTech Thoughts Weekend Reading - 5/5
Week of 5/1 - 5/5
This is the first official edition of EdTech Thoughts Weekend Reading after last week’s test run. As a reminder, Weekend Reading is a roundup of the Funding and People moves in the EdTech ecosystem, as well as a curated selection of reading Links I found useful over the course of the week.
For more analysis on the week that was, I encourage you to subscribe to the paid Weekly Update of EdTech Thoughts, which publishes on Sunday nights. You can also manage your preferences to receive only Weekend Reading or the Weekly Update via your Substack account.
With that, on to the news!
Funding / M&A
EduFund raises $3.5M / India, Student Financing
Sdui acquires Additio / Germany/Spain, School Infrastructure
Hackajob raises $25M / US, Technical Recruiting Platform
Hupso Academy raises $8M / France, Remote Training Platform
Whale raises $2.75M / Belgium, Corporate Knowledge Sharing and Training
Rewayz raises $1.1M / France, Virtual Workshops and Coaching
Cards raises $700K / France, Corporate Training
Looking for a full list of companies that have raised venture funding this year? Paid subscribers also receive access to the EdTech Funding and M&A database
Featured Organization - Five Sigma
One of the most unexpectedly fun parts of writing this newsletter has been watching the geographic diversity of readers evolve. As of this writing, Substack believes I have readers in 48 states - North Dakota and West Virginia are holding out on me - and 102 countries. Just 62% of readers hail from the United States, with no other country representing more than 6% of readers.
Meeting and learning from one or many of this cross-section of readers is frequently the highlight of my week. ~4 months ago, that highlight was meeting Peter Mobbs, Founder and Managing Partner of Five Sigma, a new growth equity fund focused on EdTech.
Five Sigma is a pivot, of sorts, for Peter. For the past 20 years, he was mostly an operator. In that time, he built 2 large education businesses - one of which he sold to Kaplan and the other he sold to a private equity firm.
Five Sigma is Peter’s effort to make exits like those happen at scale. To that end, he recently announced the addition of a new partner to the Five Sigma investing team - Harvard Business School tenured faculty member Boris Groysberg.
The addition of Boris is tightly tied to Five Sigma’s value proposition to the leadership teams of prospective investments. Growth equity, which sits between classic early-stage venture investing and private equity, is one of the most competitive parts of the venture ecosystem. Some firms, like Softbank, compete at this stage of venture capital with financial horsepower. Peter and Boris are writing big ($5M+) checks, but prefer to compete for deals leveraging their combination of management and education experience.
The initial results are promising. Five Sigma led Go1’s $100M funding round last summer with Softbank as a co-investor. They also participated in Academia’s $23M funding round in combination with Tencent and Khosla Ventures.
Peter sips most of his flat whites in the corner of his sun-soaked kitchen in Sydney, but is building Five Sigma as a global firm. The team is currently scouring the globe for both companies and Limited Partners interested in the fund’s expertise in developing EdTech companies for substantial exits.
This week’s Featured Organization is not sponsored, but it may be in the future. If you are interested in having your organization featured, email email@example.com
Byju’s offices raided by Indian money-laundering authorities / via Techcrunch
Related, Byju responds to raid on eponymous company / via Reuters
School meal debt is soaring / via NPR
Khanmigo’s secret weapon - humility. Sounds silly, but actually makes sense / via Fast Company
Making sure EdTech products work / via EdSurge
Using tech to bring down the cost of tutoring / via Hechinger Report
Let them eat cake - Danish schools boost student moods via weekly cake-eating sessions - via Government Technology
Chegg stock crushed (-50%) by ChatGPT threat. Pearson, Udemy, and Duolingo also caught in the crossfire / via Associated Press
Open Access journals are a business model, not a free lunch / via Chronicle of Higher Education
Related, students and institutions test new models for course material purchasing / via Inside Higher Ed
72% of class of 2023 prefers hybrid work, Alt Headline: Class of 2023, citing lack of professional experience, hedges / via Inside Higher Ed
Trump calls college accreditors “secret weapon” / via Inside Higher Ed
Which college majors are worth it? / via HEA Group
Related, ED releases updated college scorecard / via Inside Higher Ed
Unacademy struggles with growth / via MoneyControl
Higher ed industry group says Higher ed needs more SEO. Reads a little self-serving, even if true. / via Higher Ed Dive
Tackling credit loss for transfer students / via Hechinger Report
Are Virginia’s big schools crowding out the smaller ones? This is an issue across the country, not just in Virginia / via Richmond Times
West Virginia University cutting budget by $75M ahead of expected enrollment decline / via Inside Higher Ed
Pathways to a good job by 30 - “the main road to a good job is still to go get the BA” / via Wall Street Journal
Udemy’s 470 chatGPT courses enrolled 420K learners in Q1 2023 / via InvestorsObserver
Edcor re-introduces debt-free degrees via for client employees / via EINewswire
Instructure has a good Q1 - “we win a very high percentage of new deals” / via Higher Ed Dive
“OpenAI has no moat and neither do we (Google)” / via Semianalysis
Related, Facebook might blow up the large language model market by making its models open source / via Ben Thompson
It might be time to rewatch Her - Emotional support bots going mainstream / via New York Times
Related, we are one step closer to computers that can read our minds / via UT Austin
Gen Zers reverting to flip phones / via Wall Street Journal
Chess is booming among teens / via Polygon
EdTech Thoughts Weekend Reading is the free sister publication of EdTech Thoughts. It provides links to the week’s EdTech Funding, M&A, People moves, and a curated list of Links to relevant industry news. 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