The 10 Ed-Tech Companies That Are Raising the Most Money (CHE)

OCTOBER 28, 2015

Investment in education technology is at a new high.

In the first half of 2015, venture-capital funding in ed tech totaled well over $1 billion. CB Insights, which tracks investments in private companies, puts the number at $1.4 billion. EdSurge, an education-technology reporting website, estimates that the investments total $1.6 billion.

While the figures aren’t identical, analysts at both companies agree: Investment in education technology is growing steadily, and this year is no exception.

“We’re seeing a huge surge in ed-tech funding in the last couple years specifically,” said Nikhil Krishnan, an analyst at CB Insights. “Slowly, people are starting to see that ed tech is a very viable investment.”

Last year The Chronicle created a list of the 10 best-funded higher-education tech companies, according to EdSurge’s president, Tyler McNally. This year we asked Mr. McNally to update the list and take a look at what’s changed.

Many companies on the list — like Instructure or 2U — work with traditional universities, Mr. McNally said. But nontraditional companies operating outside of universities — like Pluralsight or Udemy — are gaining ground. That’s especially true considering that students in nontraditional programs like coding boot camps will soon have access to federal financial aid. “It’s certainly interesting to see the federal government playing a role,” he said.

In the future, Mr. McNally said, companies’ success will be largely determined by the students who use their services. “In K-12, decisions are made by administrators, and the students follow along,” he said. “But in higher ed, there’s a much more important role for the agency of the student — and I think companies will need to pay attention to that.”

Here’s his updated list:

1. Pluralsight

Funding to date: $165,000,000

What it does: Pluralsight offers video training courses for software developers and IT professionals.

2. D2L

Funding to date: $165,000,000

What it does: D2L develops learning-management systems.

3. Coursera

Funding to date: $146,000,000

What it does: Coursera works with universities to offer massive open online courses.

4. Kaltura

Funding to date: $116,100,000

What it does: Kaltura produces a video platform that helps users publish and manage their video content.

5. Udemy

Funding to date: $113,000,000

What it does: Udemy offers users the ability to create their own online courses, which are run through the company’s platform.

6. Knewton

Funding to date: $105,000,000

What it does: Knewton is an adaptive-learning company that works with schools and publishing companies.

7. 2U

Funding to date: $95,900,000

What it does: 2U works with universities to offer online degree programs.

8. The Minerva Project

Funding to date: $95,000,000

What it does: The Minerva Project provides technology for the Minerva Schools at KGI, an undergraduate program aimed at students in the developing world.

9. Yuantiku

Funding to date: $93,400,000

What it does: Yuantiku offers students access to practice tests, along with analysis based on their performance.

10. Instructure

Funding to date: $79,100,000

What it does: Instructure develops learning-management systems.

About Ryan C. Fowler

Ryan is a curricular fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. He also teaches at Franklin and Marshall College and Lancaster Theological Seminary.
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