Forty Four. Believe it or not, that is the number of education mega venture-capital rounds > $100M in the last five years.
Coursera’s mid-April announcement of their $103m Series E re-ignited curiosity on the evolution of the MOOC model and its influence on the way that people might undertake learning in the future. The size of the round also sparked questions about the frequency and recency of $100m+ VC rounds in education.
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The chart above shows the funding evolution of the 34 education companies that have raised 44 $100m+ VC round this decade. Each dot represents a funding round. Chinese companies in red, US in blue, Indian in green and Africa (Andela – Africa focused, based in the US).
Between 2012 and 2014, Lynda.com was the breakout after 17 years of revenue funding (without taking a penny from outside investors) and reaching $100m of revenue in 2012, Lynda raised its first round and the sector’s first mega-round for the decade in January 2013.
The only mega-round in the prior decade was Beijing-based Ambow Education Group, raising US$103 million in October 2008 in the belief that the education sector would cycle upward despite the global financial crisis.
2014-2015 was a peak funding period in general in the US with 10 mega-rounds in total. It was also the period when China surged, more than tripling its investment in 2015 over 2014, to $2B (see the chart below). The sector broke through to a new ceiling with $200M rounds from the likes of iTutorGroup.
2016-2017 saw the US consolidate after peak-hype from general investors in 2015 while China, India and Africa started their own streams of growth. VIPKid achieved Unicorn status mid 2017 raising $250m nearly 12 months after its first $100m round in August 2016.
And then there was 2018. Mega Rounds were the new normal and China had surged ahead with VIPKid setting a new record $500M round in June 2018 only to be topped by ByJu’s from India when the 10-year-old company raised $540m in December 2018.
By this time and as 2019 broke, we were all warned of China’s forthcoming ‘capital winter’, only to wake up in Q1 to mega-rounds from Zhangmen ($350m), DaDa ($255), Andela ($100m) and opening Q2 was Coursera’s $103m Series E.
2019 is off to a fast start and give or take $1B of funding here or there, when you zoom out to changes over the last decade, its hard to argue that by the time we get to 2030, there is a much higher probability that the way the world learns and works will look very different than it does today.
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