“Never let a good crisis end,” they say. The education industry didn’t. In fact, many benefited from it in 2020.

School closings have not only forced people to rely more on digital tools in the short term, but also to rethink what education can be when it is safe to return. If anything, the disruption of everyday life has only fueled entrepreneurs and investors’ interest in shaping this future. Many are literally betting that things will not continue as usual.

Here is a roundup of edtech’s biggest and most popular business stories from 2020.

The future of the teacher

Before there was a pandemic, there was the twisted story of the Instructure sale. The maker of the Canvas learning management system, which went public in 2015, announced a $ 2 billion offer from private equity firm Thoma Bravo last December. This sparked a series of lawsuits, layoffs, and revolts from investors who were dissatisfied with terms through 2020. Ultimately, the sale was completed in March.

It may not be the only publicly traded edtech company to be privatized. That month, Pluralsight approved a US $ 3.5 billion tender offer from Vista Equity Partners.

The immediate consequences of COVID

When the pandemic closed schools, many educators turned to tools to support distance learning. This resulted in record-breaking traffic for many vendors – along with a flurry of parking spaces from companies trying to capitalize on it right now (which annoyed more than a few school principals in the process).

The pandemic also disrupted normal sales cycles for education companies, and many turned to government support to help them stay afloat.

Race, culture and curriculum

The murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day brought together many people across the country who were angry and frustrated with the long history of racial injustice in the United States. The national outrage was accompanied by a re-examination of the cultural perspectives and prejudices represented in the curriculum.

Financing, wheeling and trading

When many schools closed, investors’ checkbooks opened, many attracted by the increased use of edtech products and services. Fundraising and acquisition business continued without interruption. Established companies raised money in bulk; Long-standing edtech entrepreneurs have come back to the market with new startups.

Check out our coverage of other major deals here.

March of the unicorns

Established private edtech companies continued to attract capital at higher valuations, leading some to join the “unicorn” club and existing unicorns to grow even bigger horns.


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