K-12 Dealmaking: Barnes & Noble Ed. Acquires LoudCloud; Volley Labs Raises $2.3 Million

Contributing Writer

In recent dealmaking news, Barnes & Noble Education acquired LoudCloud Systems and ed-tech startup Volley Labs raised $2.3 million, including drawing funds from Zuckerberg Education Ventures, one of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s investment vehicles.

In addition, investment company Weld North Holdings acquired Performance Matters, a student assessment and data-analytics company that it will merge with K-12 ed-tech business Truenorthlogic, which provides data on teachers’ performance and tracks their professional development.

Barnes & Noble Education Buys LoudCloud Systems: The college bookstore operator and provider of digital education services has acquired LoudCloud Systems, a digital platform and analytics provider to clients in higher education, the for-profit sector, and the K-12 community. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Dallas-based LoudCloud’s platforms include a competency-based courseware platform, a learning-analytics platform and services, an eReading product, and a learning management system.

Its software aims to capture and analyze key behavioral and performance metrics from students, allowing educators to monitor and improve student outcomes.

PASCO Acquires Ergopedia: PASCO Scientific, a provider of science education solutions, acquired Ergopedia, a Boston-based developer of interactive technologies that seeks to enable hands-on learning in science and engineering classrooms.

Steven Korte, the CEO of PASCO, said in a statement that the merger “significantly extends PASCO’s ability to serve the university and secondary science education markets with outstanding standards-based curriculum, cutting-edge technology, and versatile lab equipment that provides hands-on experience using tools like those used by professional scientists and engineers.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Volley Labs Raises $2.3 Million: The ed-tech startup has raised $2.3 million in a funding round led by Palo Alto, Calif.-based Reach Capital, alongside Zuckerberg Education Ventures and Chinese education services provider TAL Education Group. Disclosed angel investors include executives from Apple, Dropbox, Blackboard, and Udemy, according to various news reports.

(See also: Education Week’s Ben Herold recently dissected Mark Zuckerberg’s wave of philanthropic and commercial investment in education, and then examined the social media titan’s priorities in the area of “personalized learning,” specifically, in EdWeek Market Brief.)

“What excites us is how it will empower students to pace their self-study and direct their own learning, which is aligned with our vision for personalized learning,” Zuckerberg Education Ventures said in a posting on the organization’s Facebook page.

San Francisco-based Volley Labs offers a personal learning app for students and aims to “draw on recent advances in ontology learning and semantic search to understand not just the content of academic material, but also the context,” according to the company’s website.

LightSail Raises $11 Million: The developer of adaptive-literacy software for K-12 students raised $11 million in a Series B funding round led by the Valhalla Charitable Trust—established by Intuit co-founder Scott Cook—and the Bezos Family Foundation as well as new and existing investors, according to VentureWire.

New York-based LightSail provides each student with individualized libraries and reading lists that change based on student-assessment results.

Cram Fighter Partners with McGraw-Hill Education: The Boston-based developer of a personalized study schedule tool has partnered with McGraw Hill Education.

Aaron Yaverski, managing director at McGraw-Hill Education International & Professional North America said in a statement that his company is “excited to work with Cram Fighter to further our reach among med students and improve our understanding of how we can produce even better outcomes.”

Cram Fighter says it is used by more than 20,000 students annually prepare for exams such as the USMLE and COMLEX, according to the company.

Be sure to check back on Marketplace K-12 for updates on mergers, acquisitions, fundraising, and other dealmaking. Also see EdWeek Market Brief, a service that gives companies operating in the market insights on the needs and priorities of school officials.

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