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2015 was a record-setting year for ed-tech investment. But funding has fallen off precipitously since the calendar rolled over to 2016. There have been predictions all year long that the ed-tech boom has turned to bust. Startup funding totals are about $350 million behind where they were this time last year. At the end of June 2015, there had been 122 investments; so far this year, there have been 107.

As investors have become more parsimonious, ed-tech companies have had to tighten their belts. God forbid, they’ve had to come up with a business model. There have been a number of high profile layoffs and pivots so far this year (and not just at small startups, but at big tech companies too), and I think there are still serious questions about the sustainability of several high profile ed-tech startups. Even Edsurge, which typically only has good news for entrepreneurs, recently (and cautiously) asked “Can Edmodo Turn Virality into Profitability?

One of the problems that tech companies (in general) have faced this year is the grim outlook for IPOs. Only one education company has IPO’d so far this year, China Online Education, which became a publicly traded company just this month. The other path a startup can take for a “successful exit” is the acquisition, and acquisitions are up from this time last year. (Popular acquisition targets: coding bootcamps and learning management systems.)

Here are the largest investments of 2016:

  • Age of Learning (educational apps) – $150,000,000
  • Affirm (student loans) – $100,000,000
  • Byju (test prep) – $75,000,000
  • Udemy (online learning marketplace) – $60,000,000
  • Student.com (student housing marketplace) – $60,000,000
  • Grovo (corporate training) – $40,000,000
  • Jerry Education (tutoring) – $40,000,000
  • Chegg (textbook rental) – $37,300,000
  • Andela (code school) – $24,000,000
  • Degreed (alternative credentials) – $21,000,000
  • Revature (learn-to-code) – $20,000,000
  • College Ave (student loans)– $20,000,000
  • ClassDojo (behavior management) – $20,000,000
  • Entstudy (tutoring) – $18,210,000
  • After School (anonymous messaging) – $16,400,000

Here are the funding totals for June:

  • Amount invested: $183,660,000
  • Number of investments: 24
  • Average investment size: $9,183,000 / Median: $3,000,000
  • Number of acquisitions: 13

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Audrey Watters


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