K-12 Dealmaking: Advance to Acquire Turnitin; Weld North Education Purchases Glynlyon

Contributing Writer


In recent dealmaking news, Advance announces plans to acquire Turnitin, reportedly for almost $1.75 billion; Weld North Education plans to acquire Glynlyon, Inc.; Instructure agrees to acquire Portfolium; Blackboard Inc. announces an agreement to sell Transact; ClassDojo raises $35 million in Series C funding; and Student.com receives $10 million in its series C+ funding round.

Advance to Acquire Turnitin

Technology, media, and communications investment company Advance has announced plans to acquire Oakland, Calif.-based Turnitin, a provider of academic integrity, grading and feedback solutions.

Although financial terms were not disclosed, The Wall Street Journal put the sale price at nearly $1.75 billion.

Turnitin’s products check for plagiarism in writing and code assignments, provide real-time feedback for students, and automate grading for teachers across multiple disciplines. The company said the tool is used by 34 million students in some 15,000 K-12 and higher education institutions in 153 countries.

“We admire Chris Caren and his team, and Turnitin’s outstanding track record of enhancing integrity in written work at schools, universities, and publishers worldwide through cutting-edge technology,” said Steve Newhouse, co-president of Advance, in a statement. “We look forward to working with Chris to further enhance the company’s core products, invest in emerging technologies, and explore new opportunities.”

Advance is a family-owned company that operates and invests in a broad range of technology, media and communications businesses globally, including Condé Nast and the American City Business Journals. The acquisition of Turnitin from Insight Venture Partners and GIC marks the second significant acquisition under Advance’s multi-billion dollar capital deployment initiative, following the purchase of Stage Entertainment in late 2018.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approval.

Weld North Education to Acquire Glynlyon, Inc.  

Weld North Education, a PreK–12 digital curriculum company, has signed an agreement to acquire Glynlyon, Inc., a portfolio company of Linsalata Capital Partners.

Glynlyon serves more than 1 million students in the institutional and consumer education markets under two brands: Odysseyware provides K–12 schools with online learning solutions, and AOP provides a homeschool curriculum.

These companies will join Weld North Education’s portfolio of existing digital education companies, which includes Edgenuity, an online curriculum and instructional services provider for the K–12 market, and Imagine Learning, which delivers award-winning language, literacy and mathematics solutions for pre- K–12 students.

After the deal, Weld North Education, a portfolio company of Silver Lake, says it would serve nearly 6 million students within thousands of schools and districts across the country.

“Weld North Education’s goal is to acquire and build the best digital curriculum company in the world,” said Jonathan Grayer, CEO of Weld North Education, in the acquisition announcement. “We know that by putting the best and most engaging digital products in the hands of teachers, we can offer students education solutions that create a world of possibilities.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed; the transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approval.

Instructure to Acquire Portfolium

Instructure, Inc., a software-as-a-service technology company that aims to help people learn and develop from their first day of school to their last day of work, has announced that it will acquire San-Diego-based Portfolium, a network built to showcase the achievements, projects, and competencies of students to potential employers.

Instructure operates Canvas, the learning platform that simplifies teaching and elevates learning, and Bridge, the employee development and engagement solution for people-focused companies.

Portfolium was created to connect students’ learning with opportunity by showcasing student achievements via its ePortfolio network that includes job-matching capabilities, and academic and co-curricular pathways.

“Working with Portfolium advances our mission since it enables us to help people move from the classroom to the workplace,” said Dan Goldsmith, CEO of Instructure.

Blackboard Inc. to Sell Transact

Blackboard Inc. has announced a definitive agreement to sell its Transact business unit to Reverence Capital Partners, LP.

This transaction will allow Blackboard to focus on its teaching and learning portfolio of solutions, the core of its business for more than 20 years. As such, Blackboard plans to accelerate enhancements to programs such as Blackboard Learn Ultra, Blackboard Ally, Blackboard Collaborate, and the company’s analytics solutions.

“We are continuously examining all aspects of our portfolio and looking for ways to provide maximum value,” said Blackboard Chairman, CEO and President Bill Ballhaus, in a statement announcing the sale.

The deal will also allow Transact, a provider of campus engagement and payments solutions for higher education and other institutions, to divert its attention to the innovations and services that are core to its client base. David Marr will continue as CEO of Transact, according to a press release.

The deal is anticipated to close during the second quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approval.

 ClassDojo Raises $35 Million in Series C Funding

ClassDojo, a communication app for PreK-8 schools, has raised $35 million in Series C funding, bringing the total raised by the company to $65 million.

This latest round was co-led by GSV and SignalFire, along with participation from prior investors, including General Catalyst and Uncork Capital.

ClassDojo’s vision is to help every child get an education they love by focusing on the experience that is created every day by the community of people in schools doing the work: teachers, children, families and school leaders.

“We believe the world’s $10 trillion education market is at the very beginning of a shift from top-down decisions, to serving consumers,” said Sam Chaudhary, ClassDojo co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “Our focus is on serving these communities.”

The funding announcement comes after the company announced during the last quarter of 2018 that it would begin rolling out a new product for families called Beyond School, an optional subscription that promotes learning at home.

Student.com Receives $10 million in Series C+ Funding Round

Student.com, the marketplace for student accommodation, has raised an additional $10 million in a Series C Plus round to upgrade its platform’s technology solutions.

Founded in 2011, the Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based company helps international students find a home abroad. Now listing accommodation for over 1,000 universities in more than 400 cities worldwide, Student.com provides more than 1.25 million student beds.

Part of the update includes the systemization of the native app experience, and work to improve the intelligent service level through the application of artificial intelligence. The funding, provided by CITIC Capital, brings the total funding raised by Student.com to $80 million.

“At Student.com we believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg for the student accommodation sector – and its true value sits in the region of $180 billion globally. Following our growth last year, we are looking at hitting the $1 billion completed gross booking value to date by the end of 2019,” said Luke Nolan, founder,and CEO at Student.com, in a statement.

Student.com raised $80 million from investors including VY Capital, Li Ka-Shing’s Horizons Ventures, Expa, Spotify founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, Facebook VR’s Hugo Barra, Breyer Capital’s Jim Breyer, and other investors.

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