K-12 Dealmaking: Pearson Snaps Up Australian Company, VIPKid Raises $80 Million

Contributing Writer

In K-12 dealmaking news, global education company Pearson announced a $25 million acquisition of an Australian digital learning company. The U.S.’s largest education-staffing firm has acquired a smaller New Jersey-based staffing company. And VIPKid’s China arm raises $80 million in venture capital funding.

VIPKid’s China brand raises $80 million in Series A funding. The Chinese education company VIPKid announced that its subsidiary Dami Wangxiao raised $80 million in Series A financing from Tencent Investment, Sequoia Capital China, and Hammer Capital, according to a statement.

Dami Wangxiao’s new online classroom model will offer livestreaming English and mathematics courses to primary school and higher-grade students, according to the statement.

VIPKid aims to connects children with teachers for real-time online education. The platform currently connects over 700,000 students with 100,000 teachers in the U.S. and Canada.

“The launch of Dami Wangxiao will further meet the growing demand for online education from Chinese parents,” Tencent Managing Director Chris Yu said in a statement.

“In its six years of development, VIPKid has become the leader in the one-on-one online English tutoring field. As an investor, Tencent is optimistic about the future of VIPKid and its product Dami Wangxiao.”

Kelly Services acquires education service staffing company. Staffing company Kelly Services on Tuesday announced the acquisition of Insight, an education service staffing company that has partnered with districts in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. The current staff of Insight, which is based in Cherry Hill, N.J., will merge with Kelly Education, Kelly said.

“When we think about what’s next in the education specialty business, we see the teacher shortage continuing, thus increasing the need to connect vital talent to great public, private, charter schools and early child care centers, so all children have a learning environment where they will thrive,” Kelly Education Senior Vice President Nicola Soares said in a statement.

Soares continued, “Insight provides great innovative solutions and shares our commitment to moving education forward. Together, we can supply quality talent, enhancing the impact of full-time teachers, and supporting higher student achievement both in and beyond the classroom.”

Kelly Education is the largest educational staffing provider in the U.S.

Augmented and virtual reality education platform partners with science education company. Silicon Valley-based zSpace Inc. and London-based MEL Science on Wednesday announced a partnership to bring MEL Science’s curriculum-based chemistry courses to zSpace’s augmented and virtual reality education platform.

The companies predict that partnership will bring the MEL Chemistry application and lesson plans to millions of students globally, expanding content available to zSpace users.

Currently, 10 activities for middle school and 39 for high school are available through MEL Chemistry, including lessons and makerspace labs that provide open-ended creation opportunities and hands-on learning activities, according to the announcement.

The companies noted that their partnership will allow students to use augmented and virtual reality to experience being inside pure substances, mixtures, and atoms.

“We are delighted to be partnering with zSpace to bring chemistry lessons to life for millions of students,” MEL Science CEO Vassili Philippov said in a statement. “At MEL Science, we are passionate about using the latest innovative technology to enrich education for young people, and embracing interactive VR is a great way for students to build an intuitive understanding.”

Pearson acquires Australian digital learning technology company. Pearson on Thursday announced the acquisition of Sydney-based Smart Sparrow for $25 million.

The technology being acquired will “significantly” enhance Pearson’s current capabilities in adaptive learning, and will help accelerate the rollout of the company’s Global Learning Platform, an engine that Pearson says will allow it and its partners to launch breakthrough personalized learning experiences for students more quickly and with better outcomes, Pearson said.

With this technology, the platform will gain better functionality and provide enhanced user experiences, giving authors the ability to co-design content that can be created and updated for students and instructors more quickly, Pearson said.

Pearson also plans to use the technology to improve and expand its e-book offering, build next-generation e-books that are more “immersive, interactive and engaging,” and develop new e-book functionality to differentiate its offering from others, the company said.

“This acquisition aligns with our strategy and affirms Pearson’s commitment to accelerating our digital transformation for the benefit of students, educators and authors,” Tim Bozik, Pearson president of global product and North America courseware, said in a statement. “The Smart Sparrow technology will help build more personalized and effective learning experiences that engage students whenever and wherever they need it.”

He continued, “We believe this has the potential to drive better learning outcomes that in turn will lead to improved employability prospects.”

Ireland-based early childhood startup raises €750,000. Cork, Ireland-based TeachKloud, which provides cloud computing for early childhood educators, has raised €750,000 in investment from Frontline Ventures, AIB Discovery Fund, Enterprise Ireland publishing company Folens and ed-tech investor Sean Tai, Silicon Republic reported.

TeachKloud will use the funds to hire additional full-time engineers in Cork, and to fuel the company’s growth into the U.S. and United Kingdom markets, according to the article.

Among other things, the company’s product provides digital attendance, waiting lists, and planning for early childhood educators.

“We believe this will be an area of explosive growth as parents expect to get more updates related to the development of their children via mobile applications – this is a technology-enabled market that TeachKloud is uniquely positioned to lead,” Frontline Ventures principal Finn Murphy told Silicon Republic.

Israeli transcription platform closes Series B round. Israel-based Verbit, which brands itself as an artificial intelligence-powered transcription platform, on Wednesday announced the close of a $31 million Series B funding round led by Stripes, a growth equity firm. Existing investors Viola Ventures, Vertex Ventures, HV Ventures, Oryzn Capital and ClalTech also participated in the round, bringing Verbit’s total funding to $65 million, after a $23 million Series A funding round in January 2019.

Verbit will use the investment to accelerate the firm’s rapid growth, including expanding to new industry verticals, adding coverage of new languages, and continually innovating its speech recognition technology to make Verbit the “best-in-class solution for all transcription and captioning,” the company said.

The company recently opened its first U.S. office in New York, which is expected to triple its amount of employees this year.

“When I established Verbit 3 years ago, I didn’t anticipate we would become one of the market-leading companies in our industry so quickly,” Verbit CEO and co-founder Tom Livne said in a statement. “This latest financing round is an important milestone in Verbit’s journey and strengthens the incredible momentum we had in 2019. The collaboration with Stripes is a great indicator of Verbit’s category-leading product and will allow us to continue innovating in the market.”

Over 150 customers in the legal and higher education arenas, including Harvard, Stanford, and Coursera, use Verbit’s speech recognition technology.

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