Here is the latest data on “the business of education” for the month of December:

  • Amount of venture capital invested during the month: $109.95 million
  • Number of investments: 10
  • Average investment size: $10.9 million / Median investment size: $7 million
  • Number of acquisitions: 11

December wasn’t the slowest month of the year in terms of the number of investments. (That was April, with 9.) But it was the month with the least amount of money flowing into ed-tech companies.

Errata: I listed an investment in WorldStrides in my November roundup, but it turns out that money was actually an acquisition. Oops. $500 million is a big mistake to make. I’ve updated all my calculations to reflect this.

You can read more analysis about “the business of ed-tech” in 2017 on But here are some of the totals for the year:

  • Amount of venture capital invested in 2017: $3.48 billion
  • Number of investments: 198
  • Average investment size: $19 million / Median investment size: $5 million
  • Number of acquisitions: 86
  • Number of mergers: 4
  • Number of IPOs: 4
  • Number added to the “ed-tech dead pool”: 4

The amount of investment is up from last year by over $1 billion. But it’s down from the record-setting year in 2015 – down by about a billion from then. The number of deals this year is also down from the two previous years, as is the number of acquisitions.

The Biggest Investments of 2017

The companies that have raised the most money in 2017 (not including the venture capital firms that have raised new funds):

  • SoFi (private student loans) –- $500 million
  • VIPKID (tutoring) – $200 million
  • EverFi (“critical skills” training) –- $190 million
  • Zuoyebang (tutoring) – $150 million
  • Hero K12 (behavior management) –- $150 million
  • Yuanfandao (tutoring) –- $120 million
  • Grammarly (grammar and spelling assistance) –- $110 million
  • (tutoring) -– $100 million
  • Liulishuo (language learning) – $100 million
  • Gaosi Education (tutoring) – $83.5 million
  • BYJU’s (test prep) – $70 million
  • Coursera (online education) –- $64 million
  • Absorb (learning management system) – $59 million
  • Changingedu (tutoring) – $55 million
  • Yixue Education (online education) – $41 million
  • Wonder Workshop (robotics) – $41 million
  • AltSchool (private school; learning management system) – $40 million
  • Prodigy Finance (student loans) – $40 million

These are (as far as I can tell) currently the most well-funded startups in education:

  • SoFi (student loans) – $2.156 billion
  • VIPKID (tutoring) – $325 million
  • EverFi (“critical skills” training) – $251 million
  • BYJUs (test prep) – $244 million
  • Coursera (online education) – $210.1 million
  • Yuanfandao (tutoring) –- $210 million
  • Zuoyebang (tutoring) – $210 million
  • Pluralsight (skills training) – $192.5 million
  • Age of Learning (educational apps) – $181.5 million
  • Udemy (skills training) – $173 million
  • AltSchool (private school; learning management system) – $172.9 million
  • Kaltura (video) – $166.1 million
  • D2L (learning management system) – $165 million
  • Udacity (skills training) – $160 million
  • Knewton (mind-reading robo tutor in the sky) – $157.25 million

The Most Active Investors in 2017

The most active venture capitalist firms this year:

  • University Ventures (with investments in Smart Sparrow, AdmitHub, CollegeVine, Examity, Motimatic, OOHLALA, Paragon One, PeopleGrove, Packback, EquitySim, Evertrue, Vemo Education, MissionU, and Galvanize)
  • Reach Capital (with investments in Abl, AdmitHub, BookNook, Epic, Holberton School, Mrs. Wordsmith, Mystery Science, Nearpod, PeopleGrove, Lightneer, Tinkergarten, Piper, BetterLesson, and OOHLALA)
  • Rethink Education (with investments in Abl, Clark, Knowledge to Practice, Trilogy Education, Vidcode, Voxy, MissionU, Upswing, and Lessonly)
  • GSV (with investments in CreativeLive, MasterClass, PeopleGrove,, Voxy, Lightneer, Nearpod, Coursera, and Motimatic from GSV Acceleration, GSV Asset Management, and GSV Capital)
  • Owl Ventures (with investments in Abl, Lingo Live,, Tinkergarten, Piper, BetterLesson, Panorama Education, and Noodle Partners)
  • Learn Capital (with investments in Coursera, Mystery Science, Outschool, Paragon One, MissionU, Springboard, and Peergrade)

The Most Active Acquirers in 2017

No large company went on a startup-buying streak this year. That is to say, no one bought more than two companies. Chegg, for example, bought refMe and Cogeon. Elsevier bought Plum Analytics and bepress. Thomas Bravo bought Frontline Education which bought Teachers-Teachers and School Improvement Network in turn.

Other notable acquisitions: Apollo Global Management bought West Corporation for $5.2 billion; Vista Equity Partners bought EAB for $2.58 billion; Baring Private Equity Asia and CITIC Capital bought Wall Street English from Pearson for $300 million; Barnes & Noble Education bought the MBS Textbook Exchange for $174.2 million; Navient bought the student loan company Earnest for $155 million; Berkshire Partners bought Curriculum Associates for $145 million; the Education Testing Service bought Questar for $127.5 million; 2U bought GetSmarter for $103 million; WeWork bought the Flatiron School for an undisclosed sum; Cogswell Education bought Adtalem Education (a.k.a. DeVry University) for an undisclosed sum; and Square bought the remnants of the defunct Yik Yak for $1 million.

2017’s Education Mergers

There were just a handful of mergers this year, and none as high profile as the joining of for-profit colleges Strayer Education and Capella Education.

Other mergers: Taskstream with Tk20; InsideTrack with Strada Education; and Code/Interactive with Mouse.

2017’s Education Spinoffs

There was one spinoff this year: Voyage, which spun off of parent company Udacity.

2017’s Education IPOs

There were four (!!!) education IPOs this year: for-profit college chain Laureate Education (LAUR); private preschool company RYB Education (RYB); English language learning company Rise Education Cayman (REDU); and tutoring company Four Seasons Education (FEDU).

Also notable: Saint Francis High School in California that invested $15,000 in a seed round of Snap in 2012. It sold two-thirds of its shares this year when Snap IPO’d, earning some $24 million.

The 2017 Ed-Tech Deadpool

Four education companies joined the “deadpool” this year: Yik Yak, The Iron Yard, Dev Bootcamp, and TechShop.

Yik Yak had raised some $73 million in venture capital before folding. The Iron Yard and Dev Bootcamp, both coding bootcamps, had been acquired by for-profit colleges (Apollo Education Group and Kaplan respectively) who opted not to keep the lights on.

Download the Data

If you’re looking for more details (or want to double-check my math), you can see who’s received funding, who’s been acquired, who’s IPO’d, which startups have closed, and who’s investing in the stories that Edsurge is telling you about the shape of the education technology industry.

I have created separate GitHub repositories for all areas of funding that I monitor:

These sites include human- and machine-readable versions of this funding data. I have created many other repositories where I track on the people and investments of venture capital firms, philanthropic organizations, and other ed-tech-related companies, all available at GitHub/Hack-Education-Data.

If you see an error or omission, please file a GitHub issue. You’re welcome to fork or download the repositories too, of course.

Audrey Watters


Who's Funding Education Technology?

A Hack Education Project

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