K-12 Dealmaking: Follett Sells K-12 Software and Content Division to Global Investment Firm

Staff Writer

A major company operating in the nation’s schools and libraries, Follett Corp., is selling its K-12 software and content division to tech-focused global investment firm Francisco Partners.

The division, Follett School Solutions, offers Follett Destiny, a library management system used by more than 75,000 K-12 schools globally.

“Follett will remain a household name for many more generations of school librarians, teachers, administrators and students,” Britten Follett, head of the Follett School Solutions content unit, said in a statement. “Our purpose and reason for being remain the same: We are here to improve the world by inspiring learning and shaping education – with more focus on that goal than ever.”

Former Discovery Education CEO Paul Ilse will join Follett to lead the software unit of Follett School Solutions, according to the announcement.

Francisco Partners has emerged as an influential player in the education industry. It also owns  Renaissance Learning, Discovery Education, Freckle, myON, and Mystery Science.

All Follett School Solutions K-12 team members will transfer with the sale to Francisco Partners. The division will continue to operate from its McHenry, Ill., headquarters.

Follett Corp. is maintaining its ownership of Follett Higher Education Group, an online and brick-and-mortar retailer of college books and other educational products, as well as Baker & Taylor, which provides content and technology to public libraries.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Merger of Gaming and Single-Sign-On Platforms Closes. Game-based learning platform Kahoot has completed its acquisition of single-sign-on provider Clever, days after the U.S. federal government approved the transnational deal.

The transaction, which was announced in May, is valued at up to $500 million.

“We see in Clever a passionate leadership and a world-class team that are just as committed to empowering educators and learners as we are,” said Eilert Hanoa, CEO of the Oslo, Norway-based Kahoot. “With that foundation, we see tremendous potential for the combined companies to serve even more educators, learners, parents and partners with consistently innovative products and practical solutions that respond to their specific needs.”

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is a panel comprising officials spanning several federal agencies that is authorized to review certain transactions involving foreign investment in the U.S. to determine the effect of such transactions on U.S. national security.

Depending on the results of its investigations, CFIUS can recommend approval or rejection of proposed transnational mergers and acquisitions, after which the U.S. President can take final action.

Based in San Francisco, Clever serves educators in over 90,000 U.S. schools and 20 million students monthly. More than 9 million educators use Kahoot globally.

Interscholastic Competition Gaming Platform Raises $1.5 Million in Seed Funding. Online learning platform EliteGamingLIVE, which combines interscholastic competition with education to improve student engagement with STEM subjects, has raised $1.5 million in a funding round led by venture capital firm American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, according to an announcement.

The funding is intended to support hiring key personnel to expand capabilities and offerings on the company’s platform, the announcement says. The Baltimore-based EliteGamingLIVE will ramp up an “aggressive marketing strategy” as the company targets North American expansion and entry into new markets, the announcement says.

“EGL offers a virtual e-sports league that is fun and competitive, and inspires bright futures,” EliteGamingLIVE CEO and Founder Kerwin Rent said in a statement. “Designed for passionate student gamers in grades three to 12, our EGL Academy provides an enriching experience that facilitates social-emotional learning through competition and can open doors to careers in STEM.”

The funding round also saw participation from social impact investor TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good and Rarebreed Ventures.

EliteGamingLIVE also collaborated with digital literacy education provider TELUS Wise as it developed its digital citizenship and sportsmanship module focused on online reputation and cyberbullying. TELUS Wise offers several workshops and resources it says are aimed at helping Canadians of all ages to stay safe online.

“The online safety of youth participants is a top priority of the entire team at EliteGamingLIVE,” Rent said in a statement.

“We were pleased to work with the experts at TELUS Wise to proactively take steps that ensure those who engage with our platform have the appropriate understanding, fundamental skills and mindset to use technology responsibly and safely as they interact or compete online.”

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