The month of May kicked off with a significant number of deals in the ed-tech sector, including acquisitions by Chegg and ACT, Inc. In addition, several companies, including Age of Learning, CodeCombat and GotIt!, received cash infusions from investors.
Chegg Acquires Imagine Easy Solutions: The learning platform provider has acquired Imagine Easy Solutions, the provider of EasyBib.com and other writing tools, for approximately $42 million in an all-cash transaction, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Chegg said in a statement.
“With this acquisition, Chegg now has the ability to serve the millions of students who depend on writing help every day, in particular those students required to take remedial writing classes,” said Dan Rosensweig, Chairman and CEO of Chegg.
Imagine Easy’s subscription products include EasyBib, Citation Machine, BibMe, Cite This for Me, and Normas APA.
ACT Acquires OpedEd: Testing provider ACT, Inc. has acquired the online content provider OpenEd. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Los Gatos, Calif.-based OpenEd says offers half a million assessments, homework assignments, videos, games and lesson plans to teachers, schools and districts across the United States. Its free materials include those created with an open license allowing their remixing and repurposing; and others with copyrights attached to them.
OpenEd will be owned by ACT and will join Pacific Metrics, another ACT subsidiary, in the newly formed ACT Assessment Technologies group, which will be based in California, according to a statement. Click here to read more about the deal.
Age of Learning Raises $150 Million at $1 Billion Valuation: The Glendale, Calif.-based education startup has raised $150 million at a $1 billion valuation from Iconiq Capital, according to TechCrunch.
Age of Learning is the producer of ABCmouse.com, an online early learning resource for children ages 2 to 7. Last month, the company launched a kindergarten readiness assessment, which it said parents can use with the ABCmouse curriculum to help better prepare children for kindergarten.
The assessment was developed with guidance from SRI International and from the independent research institution NORC at the University of Chicago.
CodeCombat Raises $2 Million: San Francisco-based CodeCombat, which offers the a platform for helping kids learn computer science, has closed a $2 million seed round of funding from Third Kind Venture Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Allen & Company.
The funding was primarily to help CodeCombat finish its new classroom offering, which launched last week after beta testing by more than 25,000 students in grades 3-12, according to a press statement.
GotIt! Raises $9 Million: The Burlingame, Calif.-based education app for teens has raised $9 million in seed and Series A funding led by Capricorn Investment Group with participation from Fosun Group, according to various press reports.
GotIt! describes itself as an on-demand service that offers users instant 10 minute chat sessions with experts.
iDreamCareer Gains Funding: iDreamCareer.com, a career planning services portal based in New Delhi, India, has raised an undisclosed amount in pre-series A funding from Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd’s investment arm Brand Capital, according to press reports.
In the last 4 years, iDreamCareer.com “has empowered students across India, Middle East and East Africa to take informed career decisions,” according to the company’s website.
Sam Labs Raises $4.7 Million: London-based Sam Labs, which offers electronic kits that enable kids to build their own inventions, has raised $4.7 million in a round led by Imperial Innovations, according to press reports.
SAM Labs is a London-based startup that was created by a team of engineers from Imperial College London and designers from the Royal College of Art, according to the company website.
brightwheel Raises $600,000 via Shark Tank: Ed tech company brightwheel has raised $600,000 from investors Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca via the television show Shark Tank. (See the EdWeek Market Brief story, “How I Survived the Shark Tank: An Ed-Tech Entrepreneur Speaks” for brightwheel founder Dave Vasen’s description of what it was like to compete on the show.)
The company, which appeared on the April 29 show, offers a free app for schools, day cares, and families that enables teachers to track attendance, record observations, share photos and notes, and gain insights into daily activities. Administrators can manage across classrooms and send paperless, automated invoices for school tuition, 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.
The online textbook service Chegg today announced that it has acquired Imagine Easy Solutions for $42 million.
Imagine Easy is the company behind online bibliography and research tools like EasyBib (which was also its first product) and similar tools like Citation Machine, BibMe and Cite This For Me, most of which it acquired in the last couple of years. Imagine Easy also offers teaching tools for helping students develop reading and writing skills through its Imagine Easy Academy and Imagine Easy Scholar products.
Chegg will pay $25 million up front and $17 million in deferred payments — with another $18 million of potential payments over the next three years that depend on whether the team meets its goals.
In the last 12 months, Imagine Easy’s bibliography and research tools powered about 240 million sessions and EasyBib alone saw more than 7 million unique users in March 2016, Chegg tells me. In total, all of these services together have helped students from mangling more than 1.4 billion bibliography entries.
Imagine Easy’s business model is based on a mix of subscription fees and revenue from online advertising on its sites.
Chegg makes it easy to buy, rent and sell textbooks and e-textbooks online. But sooner or later, some pesky professor (or, these days, more likely a teaching assistant or adjunct), is going to ask you to do some research and write a paper based on what you’ve learned. To make matters worse, you’ll probably have to attach a bibliography, too. Thankfully, tools like EasyBib make that pretty easy these days, so you don’t really have to worry about the difference between Chicago-style, APA-style and MLA-style bibliographies anymore.
While these tools are clearly Imagine Easy’s most visible services, Chegg today noted that the company’s tools for teaching writing skills are also an important reason for acquiring the service.
“We know that writing is one of the biggest pain points for students today, with about one quarter of all college freshmen required to take remedial writing courses and employers rating less than 30% of recent graduates as being well prepared written communicators,” said Dan Rosensweig, Chairman and CEO of Chegg, in today’s announcement. “Inability to write at the college level is a leading indicator of which students will eventually drop out, a situation that adversely impacts both the student and the school. With this acquisition, Chegg now has the ability to serve the millions of students who depend on writing help every day, in particular those students required to take remedial writing classes.”Featured Image: Megan Robertson/Flickr UNDER A CC BY 2.0 LICENSE