K-12 Dealmaking: Chinese Tutoring Company Raises $120 Million

Contributing Writer

In the latest dealmaking news, Chinese online tutoring company Yuanfudao raised $120 million. Also, Nashville-based Tennessee Book Company acquired learning and analytics platform Thrivist.

Yuanfudao Raises $120 Million: Beijing-based online tutoring company Yuanfudao has said it has raised $120 million in a round led by private equity firm Warburg Pincus, according to ReutersTencent Holdings, China’s biggest social network and a previous backer of Yuanfudao, also participated in the round.

As a result, the company is now considered a “unicorn,” or startup with a valuation of more than $1 billion, according to Reuters and other reports.

Yuanfudao provides live courses and tutoring through an online platform and serves primary and secondary school students in China, according to Crunchbase.

This was not Tencent’s first investment in an online tutoring platform. Last year, the company announced plans to invest $50 million (RMB 320 million) in Beijing New Oriental Xuncheng Network Technology Co., the operator of the Koolearn.com online education platform. Xuncheng Network Technology is an affiliate of New Oriental Education and Technology Group Inc., the largest provider of private educational services in China.

The investment was completed in April 2016, according to New Oriental.

Tennessee Book Company Acquires Thrivist: Nashville-based Tennessee Book Company LLC, an Ingram Content Group company, has acquired assets of learning and analytics platform Thrivist, LLC, according to a statement. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition aims to create “a single, dynamic way for teachers to access both digital and print content for their classrooms,” according to Tennessee Book Company, which also noted that Thrivist will help publishers create more connection points with Tennessee School Districts.

Thrivist’s platform is designed to offer districts a way to develop, deliver and manage online learning and correlate learning activities with student performance. Thrivist’s previous owner was Crimson Ventures, a management consulting and opportunistic angel investing company, according to a separate statement from Crimson.

“K-12 schools are continuing to increase their use of digital course materials to help their students succeed,” said Todd Svec, vice president K-12 content and general manager for Tennessee Book Company. “It only makes sense to help support our customers and streamline the process of making the transition of physical only course materials to a more diverse offering.

Svec continued, “We have every intention of walking side-by-side with our customers as course materials shift to digital. The addition of Thrivist to our company provides our customers a one-stop shop to implement their digital content needs, with seamless and easy access.”

Yogome Raises $6.6 Million: Yogome, a digital education platform, closed its Series A round with an investment of $6.6 million from Spanish fund Seaya Ventures, according to a statement. Additionally, under the leadership of Seaya Ventures, Variv Capital and Endeavor Catalyst had a stake in this round of investment.

Yogome offers a collection of games for kids ages 6-11 endorsed by the Play2Prevent Lab at Yale University; 95 percent of its subscribers come from the United States, Latin America and Southeast Asia, according to the company.

The funds obtained from this round will allow Yogome to reach 1 million subscribers and to continue its geographical expansion to China, Korea and Japan, the company said.

The funding brings Yogome’s total funding to $10 million raised to date, according to the company, which claims it is the first “100 percent Mexican startup that raises a Series A round outside the fintech industry and the largest round for an ed-tech company in Mexico.”

Wisr Receives Venture Innovation Award: Wisr, a Cleveland-based company that helps higher education institutions create knowledge-sharing communities to track student and alumni engagement, was recently honored with a Venture Innovation Award at the 2017 ASU+GSV Summit hosted recently in Salt Lake City, according to a statement.

The software-as-a-service company was one of three organizations that received a Venture Innovation Award during the summit. The award recognizes emerging technology companies who are poised to have a massive impact on improving the education industry.

Last month, Wisr also received financial backing from Cleveland-based investor JumpStart Inc. in the form of a $250,000 investment from the firm’s Focus Fund. The deal comes nearly a year after Wisr received an initial $25,000 validation investment from the same fund.

JumpStart’s Focus Fund is designed to invest in high-potential, tech startup companies led by female or minority entrepreneurs throughout Ohio—as well as those willing to move to the state.

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

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