Edtech unicorns have boatloads of cash to spend following the capital boost to the sector in 2020. As a result, edtech M&A activity has continued to swell. The idea of a well-capitalized startup buying competitors to complement its core business is nothing new, but exits in this sector are notable because the money used to buy startups can be seen as an effect of the pandemic’s impact on remote education.
In the past week, the consolidation environment is making a clear statement.
The data agrees. Per Crunchbase data, there were 45 edtech exits in 2019 and 24 edtech exits so far in 2021. The same database shows just 35 exits for all of 2020. As we discussed nearly six months ago, the ability to buy (and be bought) has changed.
In the past week, the consolidation environment is making a clear statement: Pandemic-proven startups are scooping up talent — and fast. Kahoot, which is set to list on the Oslo Stock Exchange within months, has bought three businesses within the past 12 months. Quizlet, which became a unicorn nearly one year ago, made its first acquisition ever last week.
To understand more about this activity, I caught up with Quizlet CEO Matthew Glotzbach and Kahoot CEO Eilert Giertsen Hanoa. We talked about trends in the space including lifelong learning, self-directed learning and more.
Q&A is a lucrative business
“To be successful students in the past decade or two, it has required self-direction,” Glotzbach said simply a few minutes into our chat. “Quizlet as a platform is helping to empower that self-directed learner and give them the tools they need to really be successful.”
To further this goal, Quizlet acquired problem-solving tool Slader last week. Unfortunately, the price of the deal was not disclosed (but don’t worry, we’ll have numbers in the next section). What we do know is that it’s the startup’s latest move to solidify its focus as a tech-powered tutoring tool rather than a simple flashcard app.
Currently, Quizlet uses its data around flashcard sets, questions and trained natural language processing tools to understand how students might respond to certain prompts. Artificial intelligence gives the company a little more flexibility to understand the different ways a student could correctly answer the same question.