Cherry Tree & Associates | October 2021 | Volume XVI, Issue 4
Penn Foster Merges with Carrus

Penn Foster, the provider of digital learning solutions for high demand skills and jobs, announced that it is merging with Carrus, an online healthcare training and professional development provider. Together, Penn Foster and Carrus will expand their pioneering approach to middle-skills career development programs that are affordable and tailored to the needs of employers. The combined company will serve more than 400,000 enrollees per year with 115,000 participating in its healthcare training vertical, making it one of the largest skills-based training platforms in the country. Carrus is an all-in-one online healthcare training platform designed to prepare workers with in-demand skills and keep organizations trained on the latest industry policies, procedures and methods of care.
n2y Acquires AbleNet’s Equals Mathematics Program

n2y, a provider of special education content development, has acquired AbleNet’s Equal Mathematics program. The acquisition includes its manipulatives kit, a proven multisensory math instruction developed for students with disabilities. The Equals Mathematics program with the manipulatives kit uses research-based practices that will be directly integrated into Unique Learning System’s lessons and activities across all grade levels.
Clearlake Capital Completes Acquisition of Cornerstone OnDemand

Clearlake Capital Group has completed its acquisition of Cornerstone OnDemand (NASDAQ:CSOD), a leader in talent management software. The acquisition was announced on August 5, 2021, and was approved by Cornerstone OnDemand shareholders on October 12, 2021. Under the terms of the agreement, Clearlake has acquired the outstanding shares of Cornerstone common stock for $57.50 per share in cash. As a result of the transaction, Cornerstone is now a privately held company and shares of Cornerstone common stock are no longer listed on the public market.
Noodle Raises $50 Million

Noodle, the online program management provider, has raised $50 million in a Series C funding round led by BlackRock funds with participation from serval existing investors including Owl Ventures. The funds will allow Noodle to continue its growth trajectory for its university partners by investing in acquisitions and innovation that help them keep marketing and student support costs low as well as enable them to move beyond degree programs to compete in the lifelong learning market.
Amplify Raises $215 Million

Amplify, a publisher of curriculum and assessment programs, has raised $215 million in growth funding from Learn Capital and A-Street Ventures. Amplify intends on using the funds to accelerate its growth in providing students and teachers with high-quality, digital-forward instructional programs and helping districts address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Amplify reports reaching more than 10 million students in 4,000 districts across all 50 states, with a growing international presence.
Accelerate Learning Acquires Study Edge

Accelerate Learning, the developer of the STEMscopes suite of K-12 STEM curriculum solutions, has acquired Study Edge, a provider of technology-rich math curriculum and tutoring. Study Edge markets several math-focused products, including the highly regarded Math Nation math curriculum. Math Nation features comprehensive, interactive math resources for 6-8th Grade Math, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and beyond.
Wiley Acquires J&J Editorial 

Wiley, the global research and education publisher, has acquired the U.S. peer-review management company, J&J Editorial. Founded in 2008 by Jennifer Deyton and Julie Nash, J&J Editorial provides services in editorial operations, production, copy editing, system support, and consulting for more than 120 clients. Wiley’s J&J acquisition is the latest in a line of such moves that include purchasing Atypon, Hindawi, Madgex, mThree, zyBooks, and Knewton Alta.
RLJ Equity Partners Acquired Ogle School

RLJ Equity Partners has acquired Ogle School, a portfolio company of NCK Capital. Founded in 1973 and headquartered in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, Ogle is an accredited provider of cosmetology and esthetics career education in Texas. Through its nine campuses in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, Ogle differentiates itself through part-time and full-time programs with an education focus, unparalleled corporate culture, and unique student and learning experiences to a population of approximately 2,000 future beauty professionals.
360Learning Raises $200 Million 

360Learning, a learning management services platform, has raised $200 in funding from Sumeru, SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 and Solver Lake Waterman. 360Learning allows its users to learn from one another through an easy-to-use platform whereby users create and share courses with their peers. The Company plans to use the newly raised capital to hire additional staff members and expand into new markets.
Entity Academy Raises $100 Million

Entity Academy, the startup which provides women with training in areas like data science and software development, mentoring and ultimately job coaching, raised $100 million. The funding comes from Leif, a startup that provides financing services to EdTech platforms so that they can offer their students income share agreements.
Graphy Acquired Spayee for $25 Million 

Graphy, an Unacademy Group company, has acquired EdTech platform Spayee for $25 million. Spayee supports creators to create and build their own websites and mobile apps on Android and iOS. Currently, over 2,000 creators and businesses have launched their platforms using Spayee. Following the acquisition, Spayee will continue to operate independently.
HelioCampus Acquires AEFIS

HelioCampus, a technology-enabled services company that provides colleges and universities with benchmarking and decision support services, acquired AEFIS, a trusted provider for institutional assessment, accreditation and education-to-employment initiatives. AEFIS is a unified platform for managing institutional assessment and accreditation, planning for continuous improvement, and connecting authentic lifelong learning to help improve learner success.
INE Acquires Pentester Academy

INE, a global provider of technical training for the IT industry, has acquired Pentester Academy, a cloud-based hands-on lab platform. Pentester Academy’s platform includes a cache of 2,200+ hands-on labs, 1,500+ HD videos, and several boot camps. These will be offered in tandem with INE’s suite of course offerings, which includes 18,000+ on-demand videos across Cyber Security, Cloud, Networking, Data Science, and DevOps. Together, the combined solutions will allow students from both platforms and all skill sets to continue accelerating their IT careers.
Camp K12 Raises $12 Million

Camp K12, an EdTech platform for students in the 5-18 age group, has raised $12 million in a Series A round from Matrix Partners India and Elevation Capital. Camp K12 connects students across the globe with teachers for live, interactive online courses across skills such as coding and English. Students learn one-on-one with private teachers, or in small groups with friends. Going forward, the Company plans to add two new geographies, one new content category, and deepen its reach in its existing geographies.
Renovus Capital Partners Acquires Education Dynamics  

Education Dynamics, a provider of higher education marketing and enrollment services, has been acquired by Renovus Capital Partners. As a marketing and enrollment management for non-traditional and online higher ed institutions, EducationDynamics provides services that support schools, and the students they serve, from consideration to graduation, offering market research, digital and offline marketing, success coaching, prospective student nurturing, and inquiry generation solutions. EducationDynamics reportedly serves over 500 higher education institutions.
Providence Equity Partners Invests in Seesaw Learning  

Seesaw Learning, a provider of virtual classroom spaces and multifaceted educational tools to elementary school students, teachers, and families, has announced it has received a strategic investment from Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm specializing in growth-oriented investments in media, communications, education, and software services. The Company will continue to be led by co-founders Adrian Graham and Carl Sjogreen.
Udemy Files to go Public

Udemy, the online learning platform and course provider, has filed to raise $406 million in an IPO according to a recent SEC filing. To date, Udemy has raised $415 million from private investors from Insight Partners, MIH EdTech Investments, Norwest Ventures Partners and Stripes. Udemy has applied to list its common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “UDMY.”

D2L, the operator of the Brightspace online learning, has filed to go public. The Company is looking to raise about $160 million in an IPO that could value the Company as high as $915 million. The Canadian company is planning to sell 9.52 million to 10.5 million shares, priced at $19 to $21 per share. D2L plans to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol DTOL.
BARBRI Global Acquires PowerScore

BARBRI Global, a premier legal education provider, announced it has acquired PowerScore, a test preparation service for the law school admission test (LSAT) and other high-stakes exams. BARBRI, a Francisco Partners portfolio company, is a global learning and technology company dedicated to meeting the legal education and specialized training needs of law students, attorneys, and other professionals throughout their careers.
Amplify Acquires Mathigon

Amplify, a publisher of curriculum and assessment programs, announced today that it has acquired K–12 mathematics online learning company Mathigon. The London-based EdTech startup develops and publishes unique, highly interactive, and visually compelling tools, activities, and courses that enable students to explore mathematics. Since 2016, Mathigon has provided free content and tools to teachers, students, and parents in more than 20 languages.
Byju Raises new Funds

Byju’s has raised $300 million as part of a larger round of new investment that reportedly values the Company at roughly $18 billion. Byju, which has raised over $1.8 billion since inception, has reportedly been engaging with bankers to explore a potential IPO next year.
Fiverr to Acquire CreativeLive

Fiverr (NYSE:FVRR), the marketplace for freelance services, is acquiring CreativeLive, a creative and entrepreneurial education platform where people can learn about design, business, photography, video, marketing and more. The platform offers 2,000+ classes across a variety of creative and business categories and has helped more than 10 million learners. CreativeLive will remain a standalone organization as well as retain and grow its team from its current headquarters in Seattle, WA, with Founder and CEO Chase Jarvis remaining at the helm. Fiverr’s current online learning platform, Fiverr Learn, will be folded into CreativeLive to further meet the needs of freelancers and businesses across the world.
Carnegie Dartlet Acquires mStoner

Carnegie Dartlet, a provider of strategic marketing solutions for the higher education market, acquired mStoner, a web design and technology company. This is Carnegie Dartlet’s second acquisition this year following its merger with Underscore in May. Carnegie Dartlet is a portfolio company of Heritage Company.
Multiverse Raises $130 Million

Multiverse, the startup focused on providing an alternative to traditional university and corporate training, raised $130 million in a Series C round led by D1 Capital Partners and BOND. To date, Multiverse has raised $194 million.
OverDrive Education Acquires

OverDrive, a digital reading platform for libraries and schools, has acquired TeachingBooks creates and maintains a source of supplemental materials that perpetuates informed, reading across the curriculum while furthering successful literacy outcomes. TeachingBooks provides K-12 schools with more than 265,000 curated materials from trusted educational sources, as well as their own proprietary content, to enrich how a book is taught in the classroom.
Labster Acquires Ubisim

Labster, the platform for virtual labs and interactive science, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire UbiSim, the virtual reality training platform for nursing. With this acquisition, Labster expands its nursing education offering, further supporting its mission to transform access to high-quality science education. Labster, founded in Denmark in 2012, is a learning platform with an ecosystem of science learning resources, including a metaverse of virtual science simulations, lab manuals, lab reports, and 3D animated videos.
LoopUp Acquires SyncRTC for $4.5 Million

SyncRTC, a hybrid collaboration SaaS company with a notable customer base of higher education and corporate training customers, has been acquired by LoopUp. LoopUp had a longstanding relationship with SyncRTC’s founder and CEO, Victor Sanchez, since SyncRTC was founded in 2013. Victor Sanchez will become the Group’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) post Acquisition.
Praxis Labs Raises $15.5 Million

Praxis Labs, a justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) learning platform designed to redefine work cultures through research-backed virtual reality (VR) experiences, has raised $15.5 million in a Series A round led by Norwest Venture Partners and Emerson Collective. Praxis Labs intends on using the funds to scale the platform, expand its learning journey library, and add several key leadership roles.
Fiveable Raises $10 Million

Fiveable, the social learning platform, raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Union Square Ventures with participation from Owl Ventures and Progression Fund. Fiveable reports serving over 7 million high school students since 2018.
For-profit education comprises more than 5% of the roughly $1.5 trillion that is spent on education in the U.S. annually. Cherry Tree created the Education For-Profit 50 Index representing a group of publicly traded for-profit education companies.
The For-Profit Education 50 Index consists of companies in the Pre-K-12, Postsecondary Education, Training and Development, and Education Products and Services segments for-profit education industry.
* EV=Enterprise Value
We’ve all heard of people voting with their feet, voting with their pocketbooks, or other colloquialisms for what economists call “revealed preference.” Smart investors know to pay much more attention to what people do, than to what they say. 

We’ve also all learned in a COVID world that working remotely is much more feasible that we thought before the pandemic. Many employers expect that for certain jobs and in certain industries, things will never go back to the way they were. Since this is an education-focused newsletter, you might think we plan to write this month about how the same will happen with remote learning. It may, at least in certain situations. But our topic today is about a different change we’re seeing in education, and the question of whether it is temporary, or part of a more permanent transition.

Recent data suggests that public K-12 school enrollment dropped 3% in 2021, which equates to 1.5 million students. More strikingly, they saw a 10% drop in Kindergarten enrollment, a full 500,000 students. Elementary schools saw some losses too, while middle school and secondary enrollment were essentially flat. Meanwhile, numerous surveys indicate private school enrollment has seen a significant gain (and based on waiting lists, that it would have been higher if schools had the capacity), and that the percent of parents homeschooling their children has roughly doubled. Researchers have noted that public schools’ decisions on whether to offer in-person, hybrid, or purely remote learning, had a significant impact on those enrollment losses (spoiler alert: the losses were much worse where schools went to purely remote learning for younger grades). 

Our intent in sharing these statistics isn’t to wade into the politics of whether the decisions on remote learning were the right ones, let alone the debates over masking or vaccinations. We have been experiencing a global pandemic, which has been worse in some areas and for some populations, and we trust that most people are acting in good faith. We respect that many people choose to homeschool or send their kids to private school for a variety of reasons, and also that a quality public educational system is a worthy goal and important undertaking for our society. But the pandemic and the decisions on how to continue delivering education have clearly had repercussions, in ways that are worth watching for people working in, investing in, or simply concerned about education. Parents and students have a preference for in-person learning for younger students, when it is possible. Will public schools see a continued decline in enrollment if parents with kids homeschooled or in private schools decide not to send them back? Will next year’s public school kindergarten classes be exceptionally large, due to parents who decided to “redshirt” students this past year, to borrow a football term? Regardless, the trends in enrollment bear watching. Public schools are generally awash in money right now, but the changes in parent and student behavior could potentially be felt for decades. 

For a confidential discussion about your company’s strategic alternatives for exiting, merging, acquiring, or obtaining venture financing, and how trends in education affect your prospects, please contact us at 952-893-9012.
Prepared by:
Chad Johnson, Managing Partner | 952.253.6010
Follow me on Twitter @ChadEricJohnson
Cherry Tree & Associates is a private investment banking firm headquartered in Minneapolis. Our firm specializes in serving middle market companies and their owners, whether private, public, or divisions of larger corporations.
Important Disclosures

The information included in this publication has been obtained from public sources, and is not based upon private or confidential Cherry Tree information. Cherry Tree gathers its data from sources it considers reliable. However, it does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided within this publication. Any opinions presented reflect the current judgment of the authors and are subject to change. Cherry Tree makes no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding the accuracy of this information or any opinions expressed by the authors. Officers, directors, partners of Cherry Tree and Cherry Tree proprietary investment funds may have positions in the securities of the companies discussed, and certain affiliates of Cherry Tree may recommend to specific clients the purchase and sale of securities discussed in the publication. This publication does not constitute a recommendation with respect to the securities of any company discussed herein, and it should not be construed as such. Cherry Tree or its affiliates may from time to time provide investment banking or related services to these companies. Like all Cherry Tree employees, the authors of this publication receive compensation that is affected by overall firm profitability. We undertake no obligation to update any information in this publication.  

The Education For-Profit (EFP) 50 Index is a hypothetical index, and does not reflect an actual investment portfolio. Comparisons between the EFP 50 Index and the S&P 500 are for illustrative purposes only. Correlations in performance information for the EFP 50 Index and the S&P 500 should not be relied upon as indicative of risks involved in owning or holding a portfolio of securities similar to the EFP 50 Index. Past performance should not be relied upon as indicative of future performance.