Chegg, Fuel Education Announce Acquisitions; Owl Raises $185M

Contributing Writer

In the latest news from the world of K-12 dealmaking, learning platform provider Chegg and digital provider Fuel Education announced acquisitions. In addition, ed-tech investor Owl Ventures closed an $185 million funding round.

Chegg Acquires Cogeon: Chegg, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based learning platform, has acquired German-based Cogeon GmbH, a provider of adaptive math learning technology, for $15 million in an all-cash transaction, according to a statement.

With this acquisition, Chegg will be able to provide self-guided and individualized math solutions to more students, which the company said will deep its reach in to the high school market.

There are potential additional payments of up to approximately $8.8 million, payable in cash or stock in the discretion of Chegg, and up to approximately $3.8 million in restricted stock units over the next three years that remain subject to contingencies.

Last year, Chegg acquired Imagine Easy Solutions, the provider of EasyBib.com and other writing tools, for approximately $42 million.

Cogeon’s primary application–Math 42–is a math learning app offering hierarchical step-by-step exercises, concept walk-throughs, and personalized assessment, built upon an artificially intelligent learning engine.

Nathan Schultz, chief learning officer of Chegg, said the technology acquired from Cogeon “enhances our ability to tackle math deficiencies with tools that are self-guided, personalized, and on demand, better preparing students for success both in and out of the classroom. And the Cogeon team, led by a family of world-renowned mathematicians, will work with us to develop best-in-class products to improve how students learn complex math concepts.”

Added Thomas Nitsche, co-founder of Cogeon: “Cogeon and Chegg share like-minded missions to bring students innovative, responsive tools that help improve their learning experience.  By joining Chegg, we’re able to deliver an important educational technology to millions of students to help them better understand their course material and give them needed skills to compete in the workforce.”

Fuel Education Acquires Big Universe: Digital learning solutions company Fuel Education (FuelEd) has acquired Big Universe, a literacy solutions provider for students in grades K–12 for an undisclosed sum. Big Universe is now available in the U.S. exclusively through FuelEd, according to a statement.

Big Universe provides schools with literacy solution featuring a library of thousands of leveled eBooks from publishers.

“With Big Universe, Fuel Education now offers our school and district partners a platform with a broad selection of highly engaging literature that is not only economical but can be implemented at any time during the school year,” said Sean Ryan, general manager of FuelEd.

“Big Universe shares Fuel Education’s vision of helping schools and districts leverage digital learning to transform education,” said Anil Hemrajani, founder of Big Universe. “We look forward to offering districts across the country a powerful way to engage students and improve their reading skills.”

Fuel Education was launched in 2009 as K12 for Schools and Districts; since 2014 it has been a wholly owned subsidiary of K12 Inc.

Owl Ventures Raises $185 Million: Owl Ventures, an ed-tech focused venture capital fund raised $185 million for its second fund.

The San Francisco-based fund said the new capital will be used to lead investments in education technology startups “that are harnessing the new wave of entrepreneurship and innovation across the education spectrum including early childhood, K-12, higher education and career mobility/professional learning,” according to a statement.

The firm has been a major investor in many of the fastest growing companies in the ed-tech market, including Accelerate Learning, DreamBox Learning, Newsela, RaiseMe and Quizlet.

“We seek to partner with transformational companies that are solving large problems in education that have established product market fit and repeatable revenue models,” said Amit Patel, Partner at Owl Ventures. “We play a very active role in helping our portfolio companies accelerate growth and strengthen their teams.”

The fund most recently announced investments in Lingo Live, Piper and Tinkergarten that were made out of Owl Ventures II.

RISE Education Cayman Goes Public: RISE Education Cayman, a provider of English language education programs in China, held its initial public offering (IPO) on The Nasdaq Stock Market last week. Shares began trading under the ticker symbol “REDU.”

RISE describes its focus as “subject-based learning,” in which various subject areas, such as language arts, math, natural sciences, and social science are used to teach English, according to a statement.

RISE is the latest China-based education company to announce an IPO. In late September, RYB Education, an early childhood education service provider based in Beijing, held its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reach Capital to Raise $75 Million: Reach Capital, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based fund that focuses on ed-tech startups, is seeking to raise $75 million, according to an SEC filing, first reported by The PE Hub Network earlier this month.

Reach most recently invested in PeopleGrove, a software platform designed to connect students and professionals with advisers, coaches, and mentors and instructional technology company BookNook.

BridgeU Raises $5.3 Million: BridgeU, a provider of college and career-preparation software, unveiled that it closed a $5.3 million Series A investment round in August led by Octopus Ventures, with support from Fresco Capital and Downing Ventures, according to a blog posting from the company.

BridgeU, based in London and Hong Kong, said the capital “allows us to invest heavily in our people, our platform, and our schools’ priorities.” In addition, the company noted it will be setting up more local officers and continue to enhance its customer support functions.

Be sure to check back on Marketplace K-12 for updates on mergers, acquisitions, fundraising, and other dealmaking.

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