Who were the top ed tech acquirers in 2012?

A new report from M&A database CB Insights gives an overview of the 2,277 tech acquisitions it tracked last year (you can see my colleague Eliza Kern’s post on the breakdown here or view the entire report here.) But to give GigaOM a better view of the ed tech sector specifically, the company dug a little deeper.
Ed tech was by no means the top industry by deal volume — that honor goes to web and mobile commerce — but given all the investor money entering the sector, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at the top companies responsible for exits.  (Although it’s reasonable to expect that many in the newest crop of startups will likely find their exits elsewhere.)
According to the research firm, there were 48 ed tech deals in 2012, down slightly from 51 in 2011.  John Wiley & Sons (s JW-A), the 200-year-old publisher, was the most active buyer, acquiring three companies. Publishing giant Pearson (s PSO), learning management system Blackboard and private equity firm Vista Equity Partners each bought up two companies.
The biggest ed tech deals of the year were Pearson’s $650 million purchase of Embanet Compass, which provides online learning services to colleges and universities, and John Wiley & Sons’ $220 million acquisition of Deltak Edu, an online degree services company.  Both online learning companies have been around since the mid to late 1990s.
Here are a few more details on the acquisitions mentioned above:
John Wiley & Sons

  • Efficient Learning Systems, an online learning company focused on accounting and finance ($24 million)
  • Inscape Publishing, a company that provides assessment and training products for interpersonal skills ($85 million)
  • Deltak Edu, an online degree services company ($220 million)


  • Global English, a provider of cloud-based business English learning software ($90 million)
  • Embanet Compass, a provider of online learning services to colleges and universities ($650 million)


  • Moodlerooms, a provider of open source learning technology (undisclosed)
  • NetSpot, another open source learning company (undisclosed)

Vista Equity Partners

  • Essential Learning, an interactive elearning company (undisclosed)
  • Silverchair Learning Systems, provider of interactive online learning for seniors (undisclosed)

Image by Supri Suharjoto via Shutterstock.