ISTE Acquires EdSurge, in Pairing of Event- and News-Focused Ed-Tech Organizations

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The International Society for Technology in Education or ISTE, is acquiring the ed-tech news organization EdSurge, in a pairing of two groups that are prominent players in the world of digital education.

ISTE is best known to many K-12 educators for its annual summer conference, a massive event that brings together thousands of teachers and school officials, along with vendors, advocacy groups, and others. But the nonprofit also has attempted to reach and influence school communities in many other ways, such as through its development of technology-focused standards, its offering of professional development, and through its publications. 

EdSurge, based in Burlingame, Calif. and founded in 2011, is a news organization focused on ed-tech, though it also delivers information to school officials through other means, such as events. In a statement released Wednesday, the organizations said the acquisition has been approved by both of their boards of directors and that EdSurge’s operations will be folded into ISTE.

They said the newly merged organization will seek to “offer teachers, education leaders and ed-tech innovators more services, ranging from education events to in-depth research, industry news, job matching and more. EdSurge will continue to publish independent news and analysis under the “EdSurge” name. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

ISTE CEO Richard Culatta, said his organization looks to support and empower education change-makers around the world” and that “expanding access to EdSurge’s reporting and research products is critical to accomplishing that vision.”

Betsy Corcoran, EdSurge’s co-founder and CEO, said her company has interacted with ISTE for years and is deeply impressed with how it supports educators.” She said Culatta, who took over as top executive at ISTE two years ago, had brought a “fresh dynamism” to the organization.

The announcement was made at an EdSurge conference. EdSurge has been a for-profit company to this point, operating with venture capital funding, but that model will now change as it will become part of ISTE’s nonprofit structure, Corcoran said.

“That was the right way to start the company,” she said. But now, “the nonprofit structure has major advantages in helping us work with foundations and serve the edtech community as effectively as possible.”

In a post on EdSurge’s site, Corcoran said becoming a nonprofit would better align with her company’s role of publishing independent news. She also indicated it would open up more opportunities to pursue funding from foundations. “What this arrangement gives us is an opportunity to focus on the work—not just focus on paying the bills, not just focus on survivability,” she said.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, and ISTE expects to retain most of EdSurge’s employees as staff members. Corcoran will join ISTE as a senior leader. Neither CEO disclosed the price of the transaction. However, Culatta said in an interview that EdSurge shareholders will not receive any return on their investment, and that outside organizations are providing support for the transition.

Bill Bass, the president of ISTE’s board, said the new pairing will allow the organizations to support higher education and tech developer communities in ways they weren’t able to do previously.

The two organizations said EdSurge will continue to produce news coverage, including news delivered through its weekly newsletters: Innovate, Instruct and Next, under the EdSurge name.

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