Business Pulse: 2021 Recap

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Coursera’s first quarterly call

In the first whole quarter after going public, financial results paint a pretty picture for Coursera’s investors, at least on the surface. There is not much educators, learners and innovators have to concern themselves with though.

Under the $COUR ticker, the portal that launched MOOCs into the mainstream posted revenue of $102 million USD, gross profits of $60.9 million and net losses of $46.3 million, more than tripling the deficit of the same quarter in 2020.

Upon the better-than-expected news, the stock jumped 12% within a day, and has kept the mark for a valuation hovering over $5.5 billion, comfortably above their NYSE debut of $4.3 billion.

Entering an industry that’s “lackluster” —term used by Crosswind Capital’s Nick Green— therefore ripe for disruption, does not mean that the entrance of a mighty valuable, yet to be profitable player, represents impending or unavoidable disruption. Green puts forth two challenges that Coursera and 2U’s edX are in a privileged place to address:

  • College is ingrained in American culture, despite evidence of its reduced social and economic value in several contexts. At the very least, it’s hard to argue that pre and post-pandemic college experiences are equivalent and therefore priced the same.
  • The U.S. education system faces a “cost of certification” problem, where the burdens of demonstrating a skill often outweigh the costs of tuition, however steep they might be.

If they address these, it would be marginally at best. In fact, leveraging the reputation of established universities rather than disrupting it is an essential ingredient in the formula.

Consider 2U‘s play to get its hands on edX. The alignment towards a “free-to-degree” path can be read, at the most basic level, as a marketing play that expects to decrease the cost of customer acquisition —as indicated by 2U’s edX plan for investors—. Aside from the likely addition of founder Anant Agarwal and other key people to the team, the deal involves no strategic technological acquisition. Coursera’s fate, however, might not be the same. The CEO, Jeff Maggioncalda, is a finance veteran recognized for an 18-year tenure with a remarkable profit-making motif. It’s also worth noting the over 30% of operating expenses allocated to R&D, almost matching the sales and marketing budget in the quarter.

That being said, seeing MOOC platforms mostly as marketing expenses, not so much as revolutionary elearning ideas, is nothing but fair. The fact that the vast majority of users are free and that investors seem comfortable never seeing a profitable quarter are strong indications. Coursera spends $2,000 on average to enroll a paying student while 2U does $3,900 —hoping edX shifts the figure down to $3,500 by 2023—.

Large Scale Digital Transformation, D2L And Unizin Partnership

Enabling digital transformation at scale, Unizin’s mission is becoming a reality after announcing that it will add D2L to its digital learning.

But do you know Unizin?

Unizin is a company dedicated to solving challenges in higher education. Through digital transformation and development Unizin enables digital education to be fit for complexities by fostering solutions in aspects such as analytics, data management and digital content.

As a platform solution, Unizin makes it easy for higher education to share and analyze data from LMS and student information systems, using video management tools, monitoring and even assessment platforms.

What is D2L?

D2L allows the user to transform an educational experience for teachers and students regardless of where they are and who they are. D2L offers a standard solution that is cloud-based and hosted on Amazon Web Services, giving the user customization options and extensions through integrators such as software proprietary.

Currently D2L has been adapted in different universities, such as Binghamton University, University and Indianapolis University and they have highlighted the growth of its popularity and that it now has a 99.9% reliability rate from its customers.

This partnership will provide a comprehensive student database to support research projects.

This partnership between D2L and Unizin expands the possibility of having different learning platform options available to users. In addition, these two platforms offer the user greater flexibility in the educational platforms and in the management of the same.

This association will benefit the users, since by joining together they will see a modern redesign, (taking into account the present day) in terms of the interaction and relationship that the teacher has with his students. And likewise, the user will have a different and fun mobile experience in which he learned.

Educational Content Aggregator Newsela Raises $100 Million More, Grows Horn

Educational content platform Newsela has raised $100 million in a series D round, bringing the company’s valuation to $1 billion, thereby earning “unicorn” status. The latest round is greater than the previous total capital raised until now by the startup. This according to an exclusive report by TechCrunch.

In the Newsela platform, users find a collection of third-party content, from partners such as National Geographic. Articles, media and primary sources aim to provide a complete, interesting and informative experience.

Whether Newsela single-handedly killed the textbooks and deserves its self-given tagline of “textbook replacement” or if its part of a broader march of progress bolstered by no one in particular, the fact remains that textbooks usage is dwindling, while digital versions and repositories thereof have sprawled.

It is estimated that the use of the platform has increased 115% since the start of the pandemic and that revenues increased 80%.
In addition, the CEO of the company Matthew Gross assured that more than 11 million students will use Newsela licenses by the end of this year.

Thoma Bravo’s Instructure To LTG: I Have A Bridge To Sell You

As Learning Technologies Group continues to complete its trousseau for every occasion in the elearning industry, Thoma Bravo’s Instructure further shrinks its elearning ambitions.

Bridge LMS, formerly the corporate counterpart of education-minded Canvas LMS, will now be part of LTG, in an all-cash deal.

According to the press release regarding the Bridge acquisition by LTG, Bridge offers “connected learning, performance alignment, and career growth.” So nothing particularly unique compared to the current offering.

The announcement is explicit in that the acquisition was made by LTG directly, not Open LMS, whose recent streak had us wondering if they had some involvement in the deal. While the large Moodle provider has a larger presence in the education segment, Higher Ed specifically, it is possible that their corporate ambitions and Bridge’s “mid-enterprise” positioning show some overlap.

In any case, the announcement should awaken’s Bridge prospects and staves off Canvas’ fate. While remaining the U.S. top LMS for Higher Ed, the LMS’ growth dwindled in recent years, following their exit of the public stock exchange due to Thoma Bravo’s acquisition. According to statements by Bridge’s General Manager, John Knotwell and CEO of LTG, Jonathan Satchell, the intent is to pair up Bridge with akin LTG brands in new offerings.

Virtual Lifeboats For Postgraduate Degrees: Pandemic Makes OPM 2U Stronger

One of the companies that has seen significant benefits out of the pandemic is 2U, Inc.

Since 2018, the company has seen steady growth due to its innovative role as an enabler for less knowledgeable colleges and universities interested in (or pushed into) online learning.

What is 2U? 2U is an educational technology company that contracts with educational institutions for the development of offering online degree programs, operating as an Online Program Manager (OPM). While it’s present in most forms, its largest line of business has been online Master’s and postgraduate degrees.

Despite a steadliy growing market value in the $3-4 Billion USD range, an enthusiastic Seeking Alpha analyst suggests it can reach as high as $10 Billion.

Students Very Likely To Stick With Chegg In 2021; Stock Reaches All Time High.

Chegg CEO Dan Rosenswieg told CNBC in an interview that the educational platform is targeting international expansion this year.

What is Chegg? The American education technology company provides digital and physical textbook rentals, online tutoring, and other student services.

The pandemic has forced education to adapt to virtuality. An acquired taste for online learning tools, coupled with a return to physical classrooms later than anticipated, could make 2021 another year of above average growth. According to internal guidance, new Chegg users are likely to come from international subscriptions.

To increase the odds of a successful entry into new countries, the company is making investments in international services including language translation technology.

Chegg expects total revenues this year to be between $780 million and $790 million, which would represent a year-on-year growth of almost 23%. Shares continue a turbulent rise that started last May. Following their first earnings call of 2021, the company’s valuation reached an all time high, hovering over the $14.6 Billion USD tag.

Watch the video to learn how much Chegg is valued by analysts.

Intelliboard Announces Blackboard Availability in China By Way Of Top Learn Channel Partner

Blackboard has struck an agreement to offer IntelliBoard Reporting and Analytics in China, with the purpose of providing expanded reporting and analytics to schools and universities running Blackboard Learn. Through Beijing Bibo Yunshang Technology (BBY), elearning provider and major Blackboard Learn hosting provider across the Great Firewall, existing and prospecting Learn clients will be able to enjoy cutting age analytics, reporting and smart suggestions courtesy of IntelliBoard’s LISA. Formerly Blackboard China, BBY manages and serves customers including Beijing University, UNESCO, Shanghai Institute of Information Technology and more. BBY is currently led by Yonghong Chen.

Already available in Moodle, Blackboard, Canvas and Brightspace, the announcement seals yet another step in a growing partnership play. Last June, IntelliBoard joined the Ellucian Partner Network.

Back in April, 2019, the Monroe, Connecticut company that’s become synonymous with Learning Analytics and ubiquitous LMS integration, secured an additional $3.4 million USD in Series A funding according to FinSMEs. Leta Capital, provider of initial seed investment in 2017, joins yet another series, this time alongside VCs Connecticut Innovations, Flashpoint and Smarthub.

An Account Executive job opening, doubling as a China Country Manager position, is currently open at IntelliBoard.

TikTok And Quizlet Partner Up For Short-Form Educational Video

On January 27, the two companies announced an intriguing alliance, with an integration that will make it easier for TikTok users in for the best known Kahoot competitor build the already recognizable style of fun and eye-catching videos, and embed them into classrooms.

Creators are already jumping into the #learnontiktok wave. Anecdotally, my little cousin regularly checks if someone has recorded some homework help on that app, before other platforms.

Ouriginal Partners With AI Provider Analytikus

Ouriginal, the leading European provider of text matching solutions to prevent plagiarism, has announced that it is merging with Analytikus, an award-winning provider of artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions.

With this merger of these incredible companies, educational institutions will be able to benefit and in turn guarantee the success of students. Although software solutions can never fully compensate for the lack of social interaction between educators and students, they can nevertheless provide information for areas for improvement.

The result of this combination of companies will ensure the academic integrity of the student.

2020, A Record Year For EdTech Investments In Europe

British financial advisory firm Brighteye is releasing its third annual European EdTech funding report. It is evidence of the sustained trend throughout the year. While many industries went through hardship on a global scale, technology and EdTech as its subset found the lockdowns and “distanced learning” onrush a source of growth that, while beneficial, looks hard to replicate for 2021 under normal conditions.

Europe’s funding on EdTech via Venture Capital (generally destined to early stage companies and startups) and Private Equity (for more mature companies who are not listed in public stock exchanges) remains steady, actually with a reduction compared to 2019, despite a tenfold growth in VC investment compared to 2014, $70 to $711 million USD. For comparison, the US saw its largest investment in 4 years, and China broke records totaling $7 billion in VC.

LTG expands performance management offering with acquisition of Reflektive

A modern performance management solution, offers a collaboration platform that incorporates performance into workflow, enabling clients to align shared goals.

With Reflektive, organizations scale constructive and ongoing conversations to measure the positive impact this has on employee productivity, engagement and retention.

For more information, read the full article here.

2020 Recap

Learning Pool acquires Remote-Learner

The UK-based company most known for its Learning Experience Platform (LXP) and Learning Record Store (LRS) made a concrete inroad into the American business by joining an agreement with Baltimore-based Remote-Learner.
Remote Learner is known for having an impressive track record of providing persuasive e-learning solutions to thousands of customers, representing more than one million users, for over 20 years.

Learning Pool and Remote Learner look forward to expanding on this exciting announcement and sharing more details in the new year.

Turnitin acquires ExamSoft, Unicheck

The plagiarism detection company expanded with the purchase of a competitor and a related feature provider so that together they can offer institutions flexible options for remote and in-person assessments.

“Turnitin and ExamSoft are committed to safeguarding integrity in education,” said ExamSoft CEO Sebastian Vos.
As Turnitin and ExamSoft merge, they become a single destination for institutions to maintain integrity at every stage of a student’s journey.

Open LMS acquires eThink Education, eCreators — Moodle Partnerships are over

The former Moodle Partner and part of Blackboard, now owned by LTG, finalized the acquisition of the formerly two largest Moodle Partners by Open LMS, who was the largest Partner before them under the MoodleRooms brand. On a forum post, Martin Dougiamas made the sudden announcement.

In 2019, eCreators earned the Global Partner of The Year award by Moodle Pty Ltd, and eThink the North America Partner of The Year award.

eThink Education Receives Award of Excellence in 2020

Now that eThink belongs to Open LMS, it has won an award in a category that looks at learning products that have enabled organizations and institutions to succeed.

eThink Education was nominated solely by Elearning. Media Group readers and community members, with each ballot being reviewed and validated by the editorial team.

edX expands Online Campus to bring free online learning essentials to higher education institutions

The MOOC platform introduces Online Campus essentials, a solution for college and high school students who have been affected academically by the COVID-19 crisis.

Campus Essentials is available free of charge to any accredited institution and allows its students to enroll until the end of July 2021. Read more.

Training Industry 2020 Awards: Totara named a top 20 LMS company for ninth year running

BenchPrep, D2L, Adobe, Totara, LearnUpon, Absorb, Docebo, SAP Litmos and Cornerstone feature among 2020’s Awards of the industry portal.

The updated version of Totara Learn has an updated user interface and features a multi-user and additional new application for easy access to learning for users.

Announcing the winners of Moodle Partner Awards 2020

2020 was not a year completely full of misfortunes, last year, it was possible to show that virtual and remote education has reached a boom and popularity in society, and it was all thanks to the pandemic and global crisis.
Taking into account that these teaching methodologies will continue to be present until there is a solution for society.

Moodle has a network of partners that is responsible for helping and providing easy-to-use tools to educational institutions.
That is why Moodle has announced the winners of the 2020 Moodle Partner Award.

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