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Education is one of those things that is constantly underfunded in the U.S — as evidenced by the nationwide teacher walkouts. But in the private equity and venture capital space, plans to reform the industry through technology are on fire. It seems as if there’s a new deal in the edtech space everyday.
Today, Austin-based pi-top, a learn-to-code startup, raised $16 million in funding led by Hambro Perks and Committed Capital.
It’s not just an anecdote that investors are becoming more bullish in the education space, despite historical disinterest in funding education (at least politically speaking). About $8.24 billion in investments flowed into edtech firms in the first half of 2018 alone, according to a recent Metaari analysis that includes PE, VC, and ICO funding.
Such funding looks on track to hit yet another annual record, with investments hitting $9.56 billion last year. For perspective, capital in the space grew 31.8% between 2016 and 2017—outpacing 18% growth in VC funding and a 5% uptick in PE Investment in the same period.
But what’s really sizzling in the edtech space — Chinese startup. About $4.86 billion are invested in that industry, which is not terribly surprising considering the country’s venerance for education. Take test-prep factory city Maotangchang in Anhui province, as reported by the New York Times, as an example. There, students spend dusk to dawn preparing for the “gaokao,” the all-important, hours-long college entrance examination.
But investing in China is not for the weak hearted. Take the case of Chinese firm RYB Education, a childhood education stock that listed publicly in the U.S. during the month of September. It rose 40% on its first day of trading—but was punished two months later amid reports that children were drugged, abused, and molested at one of its locations. So far, shares have not recovered by much.
DINOSAUR JUICE GROWS LESS POPULAR: The Republic of Ireland is close to becoming the world’s first country to part with fossil fuels. A bill requiring the nation’s investment fund to divest of $10 billion in investments within the coal, oil, gas and peat industry, is expected to pass in September, NPR reports.
That comes after New York City decided in January that its pension fund would divest of $5 billion in investments with ties to the fossil fuel industry.
OOPS: U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is dropping his equity holdings for Treasury securities, according to a Thursday statement.
It’s not so much a sell signal, but more of a conflict-of-interest problem. Ross signed an agreement in early November, saying he had divested of all potential conflicts of interest. But the U.S. Office of Government Ethics issued a letter Thursday saying the official was “inaccurate” in his statements.
Ross later disclosed following the November agreement that he hadn’t divested of former employer, Invesco, until late December.
Oh, and he opened short positions following the agreement. Among the short positions; Navigator, a shipping company with ties to the Kremlin. Ross later defended himself, arguing the short position was a way to divest, though it’s unclear how that math holds up.
CORRECTION: I misstated the year in which Steve Cohen’s venture fund, Cohen Private Ventures. That fund, now investing in a cryptocurrency hedge fund, launched in 2010 and not in 2016.
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE…
(by Jeff John Roberts)
• Under President Trump, the US’s ‘Soft Power’ Is Waning (by Natasha Bach)
• Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Causes Cancer, Jury Says in $5B Verdict (by David Meyer)
• Aritzia Says Meghan Markle Boosted Earnings; Will It Last? (by Rachel King)
Seth Klarman set to win his fight. Please eat cheese. Brexit and trade wars are quietly undermining the markets. Comcast vs Fox. Jeff Bezos to charge $200k for space rides. Dalio on universal basic income. Football and PE. Hedge funds aren’t thriving. Amid trade war, Chinese loans rise. Caldera sues Apollo. Apple launches $300 million clean energy fund. EnCap to pay $500,000 to settle allegations. GIC worries about global slowdown. Intel acquires chipmaker. The last Blockbuster. Justice Department to appeal AT&T and Time Warner. Lady Gaga’s startup has Silicon Valley funding.
• Compass Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech company, closed $132 million in Series A funding. OrbiMed Advisors led the round and was joined by investors including F-Prime Capital, Cowen Healthcare Investments, Thiel Capital, Biomatics Capital, Ulysses Holdings, Borealis Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments and Biomed Realty Ventures.
• Meero.com, a Parisian firm applying AI to photography servicings, raised $45 million. Alven Capital and Idinvest led the round.
• Sight Diagnostics, a Tel Aviv-based company creating a blood count device, raised $25 million in funding. Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors is an investor.
• Radiflow, a Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity firm, raised $18 million in funding. ST Engineering Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Zohar Zisapel.
• Verto Analytics, a Finnish consumer-centric audience measurement company, raised $13.4 million in funding. Conor Venture Partners, Open Ocean Capital, and Finnish Industry Investment led the round, and were joined by investors including Steve Farella, Chairman of MDC Media and Steve Marshall, CEO and Founder of Invision.
• Allthings, a Swiss property tech company, raised about $13.5 million in Series A funding. EarlyBird Venture Capital is the investor.
• Goodwall, a Geneva-based social network for high school students, raised $10.8 million in Series A funding. CVC Randstad Innovation Fund is the investor.
• Penrose Studios, a San Francisco-based virtual reality content studio, raised $10 million in Series A funding. TransLink Capital led the round.
• Apollo Fusion, a Mountain View-based satellite propulsion company, raised $10 million in Series B funding. Reid Hoffman from Greylock Partners is the investor.
• Octi, a Los Angeles-based augmented video company, raised $7.5 million in funding. Shasta Ventures, I2BF Ventures, Bold Capital Partners, Day One Ventures, Human Ventures, Live Nation and AB InBev are investors.
• Eventbase, a Vancouver-based enterprise event application company, raised $6.5 million in funding. Kensington Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Madrona Venture Group.
• Nestio, a leasing platform for landlords and brokers, raised $4.5 million in funding. Camber Creek and Trinity Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Rudin Ventures, Currency M, The Durst Organization, LeFrak Ventures, Torch Venture Capital, Freestyle Capital, and Lazerow Ventures.
• Orig3n, a Boston-based biotech focused on genetics and regenerative medicine, has raised over $50 million to date since the firm’s inception in 2014, follow Series B funding. Haitong International led the round, and was joined by investors including Hatteras Venture Partners, Alexandria Venture Investments, Labcorp, Spectrum Health Ventures, 180 degree capital, VECTR Ventures, KTB Ventures, DEFTA Partners, MMIC Investment Holdings, and Mountain Group Partners.
• Alma Campus, a Stanford, Calif.-based social network built for students, raised $$1 million. Norwest Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Felicis Ventures and former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Read more.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Fortis Solutions Group, a portfolio company of Main Post Partners, acquired Lewis Label Products, a Fort Worth, Texas-based maker of pressure sensitive labels, shrink sleeves, and flexible packaging products. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• RSE Ventures invested in Bluestone Lane, an Australian lifestyle brand with coffee shops and cafes. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Process Sensing Technologies, a portfolio company of Battery Ventures, will acquire Dynament and Status Scientific Controls, two Mansfield, U.K.-based manufacturers of infrared gas detection sensors and instruments. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Cinven will acquire Envirotainer, a Swedish provider of temperature-controlled air cargo containers. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Mediware Information System, a portfolio company of TPG, acquired Fazzi Associates, a Northampton, Mass.-based provider of home health and hospice services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Ovation Fertility, a portfolio company of WindRose Health Investors, acquired Midwest Fertility Specialists, an Indianapolis-based provider of fertility care and laboratory services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Apollo Global Management has approached Nexstar Media Group (NASDAQ: NXST), an Irving, Texas-based television stations operator, about a potential acquisition, Reuters reports citing sources. Read more.
• Datix and RL Solutions, two healthcare quality and patient safety software companies backed by TA Associates will merge. Datix is headquartered in London, while RL Solutions is headquartered in Toronto.
• Accenture acquired Kogentix, a Schaumburg, Ill.-based AI and big data provider. It also acquired AI technology from Real Time Analytics Platform, a Bay Area, Calif.-based firm focused on machine learning and neural networks.
• CURE Pharmaceutical will acquire the non-pain assets of Therapix Biosciences, an Israeli pharmaceutical firm focused on cannabinoid technologies. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Netskope acquired Sift Security, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based cloud infrastructure security firm. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• IZEA (NASDAQ: IZEA), a Winter Park Fla.-based influencer and content marketing software maker, will acquire TapInfluence, a Mountain View, Calif.-based marketplace for influencers in a part-cash, part-stock transaction. TapInfluence is backed by Grotech Ventures, Noro-Moseley Partners, and Access Venture Partners, who will become IZEA stockholders as part of the transaction. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Liquidia Technologies, a Morrisville, N.C.-based maker of pulmonary arterial hypertension therapies, plans to raise $50 million in an IPO of 4.5 million shares priced between $10 to $12. The firm posted revenue of $7.3 million in 2017. Jefferies and Cowen are bookrunners. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “LQDA.” Read more.
• VHQ Media Holdings, a Taipei-based movie and television post production house, plans to list its Chinese operations on the Hong Kong stock exchange in the next 12 to 18 months. Read more.
R3, the blockchain software maker, is reportedly weighing an IPO, Bloomberg reports citing sources. Read more.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• SRI Capital, an early stage venture capital firm in Philadelphia and India focused on funding startups in the US and in India, raised $100 million for its maiden fund. early stage VC fund focused on tech opportunities in the US and India.
• Glasswing Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm, raised $112 million in its first fund.
• Norwest Venture Partners promoted Edward Yip to partner. Ed is on the Internet and Consumer venture team.