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Back to School with EdTech

Back to School with EdTech
September 7, 2021

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Hope you had a wonderful long weekend! With the unofficial end of summer having passed (officially, summer ends on Sept. 21st), we’re looking toward what fall brings: spiced lattes, fall colors, and the energy of the back-to-school season. 

In New York City, most schools are reopening September 13th, amidst the Delta variant and a vaccination rate of only about 54% for eligible kids 12+. Because children’s biologies are different than adults' (children are not just small adults), the CDC and FDA require extra cautiousness around the correct dosage and potential side effects for children. Still, the vaccine is expected to be available for kids under 12 within the month. In the meantime, as we’ve seen with the adult population, vaccines alone don’t mean COVID is over, as offices continue to delay return dates (Google, Apple & Facebook pushed reopening to 2022). Now 18 months after the pandemic sent children and their parents into homes to share classrooms & offices, there still isn’t much certainty around the state of education in our cities and our nation.

No Precedent

Speaking with friends in education, one in a particularly-underfunded school in Sonoma County, California, and another in a well-funded Portland, Oregon district, I sense renewed plans to implement safety protocols as the pressure is on to reopen. There are funding incentives from the Biden administration as well as diminished parental mistrust of reopening plans as compared to last year, perhaps due to pandemic fatigue or evidence showing in-person learning wasn’t the super spreader we anticipated. Then again, the Delta variant has increased fearfulness and districts elsewhere are sending warning signs that teachers can be the most vulnerable.

In New York, Governor Hochul and Mayor De Blasio have released protocols and made policies that effectively end remote learning for the majority of students, placing emphasis on the safest measures to implement in-person education (such as 2 air filters per classroom, mandatory masks, & social distancing). But for some schools that already face overcrowding and that had a shortfall of resources to begin with, the gap between expectation and reality has never been so wide. One researcher deeply involved in the debate around reopening and how, Robin Lake, Director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, hopes the pandemic will provide a reset to the public education system. In her words, “public education has really been designed to do things the same way and to minimize risk, not to innovate and solve unsolved problems. The system just collapsed because everybody was looking at everybody else waiting for direction.” 

Can EdTech save us?

Remember when we used to travel for conferences, arrange accommodations for weeklong immersive sessions, or learn Spanish conjugations staring at a whiteboard? Much like enterprise software and telehealth, investor interest and founder promises in the space of education technology have increased dramatically since the pandemic. PrivCo data reveal that the industry has seen over $3.4BN in investment so far this year, up from $2.9BN in all of 2020.

I, for one, am grateful for the technologies that make it possible for me to attend a course at the University of Chicago, without rerouting my mail to the windy city and to get my Spanish lessons with a side of positive psychology from Duolingo’s fantastic app. But what about the kids? Here are several EdTech companies that might be there just in case things don’t go back to “normal”.

📚 Clever -- the all-in-one platform for administrators, students, teachers, and parents -- has been building its digital learning platform since 2012. The company was just acquired by Kahoot!, out of Oslo, which offers interactive lessons for at-home and in-class learning as well as products for remote teams.

📚 Panorama Education specializes in assessing the well-being of students and partners with school districts and departments of education to bring proper understanding to policy decisions. The start-up just raised $60MM in Series C funding led by General Atlantic.

📚 LINQ is an education management software for K-12 education. It recently made acquisitions in order to advance its grant application process for its partner schools and expand its IT and management capabilities.

📚 Follet has been around since 1863 but has kept up with the times to produce thoughtful content for educators and schools. The fifth-generation family business was recently acquired by Francisco Partners.

Since last week, PrivCo has added:
898 Companies | 135 Funding Activities | 73 M&A Deals

Funding & Deal Highlights:


Callin raises $12MM from Sequoia Capital

Podcast • Round A • San Francisco, CA

ProbablyMonsters raises $200MM from LKCM Headwater Investments

Gaming • Equity • Bellevue, WA

Homelight raises $100MM from Zeev Ventures & a $263MM loan

Real Estate • Equity & Debt • San Francisco, CA

Humane raises $100MM from Tiger Global

Consumer Hardware • Round B • Tiger Global

Insurify raises $100MM from Motive Partners

Insurtech • Round B • Cambridge, MA

Snap Raise raises $90MM from Elysian Park Ventures

Fundraising Platform • Equity • Seattle, WA

Corelight raises $75MM from Energy Impact Partners 

Cyber Security • Round D • San Francisco, CA

Pixalate raises $18.1MM from Western Technology Investment

Business Intelligence • Equity • Palo Alto, CA

Onkos Surgical raises $15MM from 1315 Capital

Health Care Equipment • Round C • Parsippany, NJ

Apollo Global Management acquires Yahoo & AOL for $5BN

Publishing • Acquisition • Sunnyvale, CA

Francisco Partners acquires Follett 

Edtech • Acquisition • McHenry, IL

Wheel Pros acquires Hoonigan Industries 

Automotive • Acquisition • Compton, CA

Quarterhill acquires Electronic Transaction Consultants

Technology Services • Acquisition • Richardson, TX

Stellantis acquires First Investors Financial Services for $285MM 

Consumer Finance • Acquisition • Houston, TX


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