K-12 Dealmaking: Qualcomm Acquires EmpoweredU

By guest blogger Kevin Connors

Qualcomm, Inc., a leading provider of wireless technology and services, may not be the first company one associates with education products and services, but with nearly 40 projects in that area, and with its recent acquisition of EmpoweredU, the company’s presence in schools is well-established.


Starting with the Qualcomm Wireless Reach initiative in 2007, the San Diego-based Qualcomm and its subsidiary Qualcomm Technologies has focused on providing mobile technology in school settings in the hope of increasing learning outcomes for students. Now, with its purchase of EmpoweredU, a provider of intuitive, mobile-based learning platforms, the company is working toward its goal of offering students “anytime, anywhere” access to course materials and resources. 

While the financial details of the deal were not disclosed, Qualcomm executives believe EmpoweredU aligns with their vision in the education space.

“We’ve learned that providing students with 24/7 access to their peers, teachers and learning materials can dramatically improve learning outcomes,” said Steve Sprigg, senior vice president at Qualcomm Technologies, in a recent statement

As such, Qualcomm has focused on integrating mobile-centered solutions, like the Silicon Valley-based EmpoweredU, into schools.

EmpoweredU’s platform can be used by students from elementary school to college, and according to the organization’s website, its “cloud-based LMS [Learning Management System] is accessible via any device with a consistent user interface for the tablet, smartphone or computer.” This uniformity and accessibility certainly appealed to Qualcomm.

However, while the addition of EmpoweredU brings its share of excitement and hope to Qualcomm’s quest for accessible education, Sprigg knows that one issue, in particular, hovers over many advances in educational technology: the lack of connectivity among many students from the poorest socioeconomic backgrounds.

“The digital divide continues to widen,” Sprigg said in the same statement, “as there has not yet been a viable solution to address the gaps for those students without 24/7 access.”

His point: accessibility is a start, but accessibility for all must be the end.

For more news on mergers, acquisitions, and venture capital in education, follow Marketplace K-12’s “K-12 Dealmaking” series. 

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