K-12 Dealmaking: Duolingo Reaches $1.5 Billion Valuation; Mentoring Minds Acquires SchoolSpire; Hoonuit Picks Up Tembo

Associate Editor

In K-12 dealmaking news, the language-learning platform Duolingo reached a $1.5 billion valuation after closing a $30 million Series F funding round. Mentoring Minds, which provides K-12 critical thinking materials, has acquired SchoolSpire, a comprehensive technology platform. Data management and analytics provider Hoonuit makes its third acquisition of 2019, picking up Tembo, a public assessment and accountability reporting company. Ed-tech firm Smart Institute raised $1.5 million in a funding round led by ah! Ventures based in Mumbai.

Duolingo raises $30 million in funding to reach $1.5 billion in valuation. Duolingo, a popular language-learning platform, has reached a $1.5 billion valuation after closing a $30 million Series F funding round from CapitalG, Alphabet’s growth equity investment fund and an existing investor in the company.

The infusion brings Duolingo’s total funding to $138 million, according to the company’s announcement. The new capital will be used for continued investment in the research and development of its products, as well as to accelerate the growth and expansion of the Duolingo team. Duolingo offers 91 total courses covering more than 30 distinct languages

“Duolingo has been adding users and revenue at an impressive pace, continuing to solidify their position as the number one way to learn a language globally,” said Laela Sturdy, general partner at CapitalG, formerly Google Capital, the late-stage growth venture capital fund financed by Alphabet. “The team has demonstrated that sticking to their mission of providing free education is not only good for the world, but it’s also good for business. We are thrilled to continue to support them in this next stage of growth.”

With 30 million monthly active learners, Duolingo is the most downloaded education app in the world and has grown organically through word of mouth. Since its last funding round in July 2017, the company has grown revenue via its paid subscription offering, Duolingo Plus, and is now also the top-grossing education app worldwide. Duolingo Plus removes ads and provides additional features, while all educational content on Duolingo continues to be free. Duolingo for Schools offers a dashboard where teachers can track their students’ progress.

“We started Duolingo with the mission of making education free and accessible to everybody, and I’m very proud that we’ve now also built a strong business,” said Luis von Ahn, CEO and co-founder of Duolingo. “CapitalG has been a valuable partner to Duolingo over the past few years, and we look forward to using this investment to continue our growth and further solidify our position as the most widely used and top-grossing language-learning app worldwide.”

Mentoring Minds acquires SchoolSpire.  Mentoring Minds, which provides K-12 critical thinking materials, has acquired SchoolSpire, provider of a software platform that integrates a district’s existing systems, allowing configurable and modular solutions.

Together, the companies will provide school districts with a streamlined way to incorporate the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking into curriculum and instruction, according to the announcement.

Over the next three months, Mentoring Minds will migrate its ThinkUp! Standards Mastery System, which offers rigorous and standards-aligned resources, to the new technology platform that hosts all of the same features and capabilities of a learning management system. Teachers and administrators will be able to communicate and collaborate with all stakeholders, plan lessons, manage their ThinkUp! curriculum, and deliver assessments. Teachers and administrators will also gain insight through advanced analytics, which can be viewed at various levels of detail – from individual student data to district-wide data.

“By pairing SchoolSpire’s powerful technology platform with our critical thinking, curriculum, and assessment resources, we’re able to provide entire school systems with a more meaningful and practical way to incorporate critical thinking into every aspect of teaching and learning,” said Shad Madsen, CEO at Mentoring Minds in the announcement.

The SchoolSpire team will join Mentoring Minds, with SchoolSpire founder and CEO Muhammad Wasay continuing as chief technology officer for Mentoring Minds.

“Joining the Mentoring Minds team is an excellent way to leverage the functionality of our platform while staying true to our mission to provide the best quality education for students,” Wasay said. SchoolSpire offers the EMPOWER product suite, which includes an instructional management system with fully integrated modules for curriculum, assessment, item banks, reporting/advanced analytics, professional development and program tracking.

Hoonuit acquires Tembo, its third acquisition of 2019. Hoonuit, a provider of data management, analytics, and professional learning solutions in education, recently announced its acquisition of Tembo, Inc., a public assessment and accountability reporting company.

The acquisition will spearhead Hoonuit’s new “community engagement” solution aimed at helping education agencies showcase their key education initiatives to stakeholders through public-facing dashboards that can share key metrics around accountability, school quality, and school improvement.

“We are thrilled that Tembo’s passionate team of designers, developers, and Harvard University Strategic Data Project Fellow alumni will be joining Hoonuit. Their expertise communicating complex data through simple, easy-to-understand report cards is unmatched and gives schools and communities the information they need to move forward and improve,” said Paul Hesser, CEO of Hoonuit, in the announcement.

Tembo solutions are used by state and district education agencies to build performance rubrics, forecast accountability results, and configure and personalize school profiles and scorecards. They also enable families to explore schools in their area based on key attributes such as academic performance, offerings, and transit.

“This is a fantastic opportunity and great fit for Tembo. We believe engaging design fuels effective data-driven decision making and Hoonuit’s ability to utilize the many disparate data sets available to educators today is unparalleled,” said David Stewart, founder and CEO of Tembo, Inc., in the announcement.

The company has made a total of three acquisitions in 2019. In April, it purchased Mizuni, and in June it acquired Decision Insite.

Smart Institute raises $1.5 million. Smart Institute, a part of The Shahani Group, announced that it has raised $1.5 million in funding in a round of high net worth individual investors led by ah! Ventures.

The Mumbai-based ed-tech firm offers the ask.CAREERS platform to help job candidates with their critical thinking, problem-solving, and time management skills.

Akhil Shahani, managing director at Shahani Group, said the latest funding indicates increased confidence among investors of the scalability of the firm’s employability model, according to VCCircle.

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17 thoughts on “K-12 Dealmaking: Duolingo Reaches $1.5 Billion Valuation; Mentoring Minds Acquires SchoolSpire; Hoonuit Picks Up Tembo

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