The Business of Ed Tech | News
Renaissance Learning To Be Bought Out for $1.1 Billion
Right on the heels of a $40 million investment from Google, Renaissance Learning is being bought out for more than $1 billion.
The company shared with THE Journal that it's being acquired by Hellman & Friedman, a private investment firm, for $1.1 billion. According to Renaissance, Google is likely to remain an investor.
Renaissance Learning is the maker of Accelerated Reader and Accelerated Math and the STAR assessment system. Accelerated Reader is a reading comprehension system that supports response to intervention through continuous monitoring of student comprehension, reading time and practice, along with diagnostic reports for teachers. Accelerated Math is a tool for differentiating instruction and monitoring student progress in mathematics.
According to Renaissance CEO Jack Lynch, the acquisition will not affect the company's product line. He said the new owners are "very focused on the mission of the company, which is a very teacher-centric mission" and added that he expects investment in research and development and customer service to continue as before, with perhaps a increased emphasis on tablet-based learning environments — including "more investment on Renaissance's part in reading solutions that make that experience more engaging for students and allow teachers to see how well students are mastering Common Core objectives in real time."
Lynch said the company will likely expand further internationally. Last year, Renaissance's investment in its UK operation grew b 50 percent. The company also has a "fledgling" operation in Korea that addresses the needs of people learning English as a second language.
Lynch also revealed that Renaissance will launch a new product this summer called STAR Custom, an expansion of the STAR assessment system. It will be focused on Common Core State Standards, including an emphasis on critical thinking, plus technology-enhanced test items. The product will allow teachers to build there own tests as well. Further details will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.
Hellman & Friedman's only other major ed tech holding is Ellucian, primarily an ERP company working in higher ed that was formed through a merger of Datatel and SunGard Higher Education two years back.
The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter.