The British investment company Sandbox Partners has purchased Pearson’s Family Education Network, an “edu-tainment” platform overseen by the behemoth education corporation.
Neither party would provide the terms of the deal. But for London-based Sandbox, the acquisition signals its interest in investing and scaling up “engaging educational” products that promote learning through fun and informal means, Bhav Singh, the company’s founder and CEO, said in an interview.
Sandbox is focused on “how can we make [the network] much more powerful, and much more engaging,” Singh said.
Family Education Network is a site designed to provide engaging learning activities for parents, teachers, and students, through games, activities, stories, homework help, and other resources. One of the platform’s most popular features, Poptropica, is a virtual world that draws 3.2 million monthly unique users in 200 different countries and territories, Sandbox officials estimate.
A spokesman for Pearson, Brendan O’Grady, said in a statement that for the London- and New York-based company, the sale is part of an overall “shift to focus on the Pearson products and services with the biggest potential impact on learning outcomes.”
At the same time, Pearson is not divorcing itself from all elements of the Family Education Network brand.
The company will still use Poptropica characters in its substantial portfolio of products focused on English-language learning, he said.
In fact, he said Pearson will launch a new blended-learning product under the Poptropica brand later this year, and would “continue to work closely” with the network, added Tas Viglatzis, the managing director of Pearson English, in comments provided by the company.
Just five months old, Sandbox Partners is only beginning to build up its portfolio, noted Singh: The Family Education Network is just his company’s third investment. One of the company’s other recent moves was to buy the British-based company Hopster, a developer of learning apps and tools for children.
It’s safe to say that on this deal, Singh is an informed buyer. He’s the former president of Pearson English, a division of the company focused on language acquisition and tools, in addition to having served in roles at Viacom and other corporations.
Pearson is one of most recognizable education companies in the world, perhaps known best in the United States for its work in school publishing and assessment.
Its work in those areas has drawn repeated criticism, including from those who believe U.S. schools are overemphasizing standardized testing, to the benefit of for-profit corporations. Pearson employs an estimated 40,000 workers in 70 nations.