EdTech / Education PE

Who are the largest players in the EdTech and broader Education/Knowledge space? Some bigger-ish names I've got are Providence, Riverside, Vistria, Leeds and maybe Veritas? Is it basically just these guys plus a bunch of LMM buyout funds?

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Jan 8, 2021 - 4:16am

Education and edtech are smaller markets with only a few assets of scale so there are usually not enough deals to become a single large PE firm of scale in the space (unlike SaaS/enterprise software, for example):

  • Thoma Bravo - owns Instructure ("Canvas" at universities), Frontline Education (admin and HR software for schools)
  • Vista - just acquired PluralSight (IT education), PowerSchool (+PeopleAdmin w/Onex, back-end software for K-12)
  • Francisco - merged MyON and Renaissance, two of the best edtech assets in the space (K-12 learning analytics and testing tools), owns Civitas (higher ed analytics and testing)
  • Permira - owns Curriculum Associates (K-12 testing, prep and tools), owned Renaissance before selling to H&F, EF Education First
  • H&F - owned Renaissance before selling to Francisco
  • Berkshire - owns Curriculum Associates (K-12 testing, prep and tools)
  • Platinum - tried to buy Navient (student loan servicer, technically an education investment)

Certainly Providence (Blackboard) and Veritas (Campus Mgmt, Edcentric) as you mention. And Leeds is a rare education only PE firm (doubt they will remain this specialized if they grow larger).

Smaller names of note: Quad-C, LLR, Golden Gate (Learning Experience)

You could also get into growth equity firms/arms of megafunds here and foreign education assets (esp in Asia): Warburg (Inspired, Aixuexi), GA (Ruanguru, Open Classrooms), KKR NGT (KnowBe4), Bain Cap Double Impact (PresenceLearning, Penn Foster) but that is likely too long a list.

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 8, 2021 - 10:29pm

Lol - downvote me into oblivion, but Blackboard is (was) probably the worst run EdTech company in the world. Providence has made some moves to help them restrike and I hope they get a decent return, but wow! Just look at the story around why Instructure was founded to see what I mean

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Jan 8, 2021 - 11:03pm

This is an ignorant answer. You're neglecting the fact that Blackboard was dominant for a long time. There are complete and total "generational" differences between these companies.


Blackboard was the v1 and Instructure was the v2. The biggest difference was cloud vs. on-premise capabilities. Blackboard was circumstantially on its heels in having to manage a full on-prem to cloud transition. 

There are a number of players competing to be the v3 currently. 

Jan 11, 2021 - 7:41pm

Other than the ones already listed, you'll see Quad Partners a lot in the lower mid-market PE space. They solely focus on education/EdTech. 

Lots of growth equity funds have been active in EdTech. Some examples: Insight (Nearpod, Turnitin, Achieve, Illuminate), JMI (CampusLogic, Schoology), Spectrum (ExamSoft, Teachers Pay Teachers, DataCamp), Summit, LLR Partners

On the venture side, Owl Ventures is a well-known fund that's 100% focused on EdTech.

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Jan 11, 2021 - 9:18pm

For Growth, JMI also has Raptor.

On the LMM side, Riverside is very active in education. 

On Venture, you also have Learn, Reach, GSV, and Rethink Education.

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