Introducing the 50 Most Transformational Growth Companies in Education Technology
In 1996, GSV founder, Michael Moe, published The Dawn of the Age of Knowledge which predicted a radical transformation of the Global Economy driven by the commercialization of the Internet. In the new Knowledge-Based Economy, education was a game-changer for an individual, a company, and for that matter, a country. We forecasted that the Internet would “democratize” the $1.2 trillion education sector, lowering the cost, increasing access, and ultimately improving the quality of education around the world. At the time, the market size for digital learning was essentially zero.
Fast forward to September 2020, the Global Education Sector has evolved to $7 trillion, and Digital Learning has grown to $160 billion, up from nothing 25 years prior. With the Coronavirus, 1.6 billion learners were thrown into the deep end of the online learning pool and told to sink or swim. The catalyst of having 20% of the world’s population becoming online learners overnight has ushered in a new era, The Dawn of the Age of Digital Learning. Before Coronavirus (B.C) was more linear and physical, After Disease (A.D.) is digital and exponential. We now expect the Digital Learning Market to reach $1 trillion by 2027, nearly twice as fast as we had expected before the Coronavirus pandemic.
The convergence of the Knowledge Economy, the Internet, and extraordinary talent has provided a tailwind for the emergence of rapidly scaling digital learning models that we call “Weapons of Mass Instruction.” Accordingly, venture capital funding into Digital Learning has grown from $500 million in 2010 to $7 billion in 2019. Unicorns have gone from zero five years ago to 20 today. The trends that were in place B.C. have accelerated A.D.
In the Innovation Economy, Digital Learning will be as fundamental to the future as air is for breathing. In the next 25 years, there will be multiple trillion-dollar digital learning companies. These Megastars of tomorrow will be created by digital learning companies that will enable most people to participate in the future by increasing access to high quality, effective education.
Ubiquitous and invisible learning will be the new normal, with individuals acquiring the knowledge they need in a variety of non-traditional ways. Games, peer-to-peer networks, and celebrity teachers powered by AI and Virtual Reality create transformative learning experiences and catalyze massive EdTech companies. Knowledge, not only college, becomes the opportunity currency which is game-changing for the 91% of global adults who don’t have a college degree.
Fundamental to all of the EdTech leaders of the future is a tangible and material ROE, or Return on Education. The sustainability of growth for the most valuable EdTech companies will be directly aligned with the educational effectiveness and opportunities created by a company’s offering. The largest and most valuable EdTech companies of tomorrow will have delivered the greatest positive education impact.
Today, we are introducing the GSV Global EdTech 50 (GSV GET50). This list is comprised of the leading, venture-backed, private companies in the Digital Learning sector. As the first virtual ASU+GSV Summit is coming together this year, we wanted to highlight the top 50 companies with the largest and fastest-growing global learning impact. In a time of great uncertainty in the world, these platforms were able to aid in transitioning classrooms online, maintaining access to educational resources and opportunities, and reskilling workers in a time of peak unemployment.
The four core factors taken into consideration for this list were Educational Impact (ROE), Learner Base, Business Scale, and Global Reach. In aggregate, the 50 companies below reach over 2.7 billion learners around the world.
The GSV Global EdTech 50
Among the 50 companies listed above, Chinese-based growth education companies continue to showcase their dominance from the past years with 16 companies from the region. The majority of these platforms are epitomes of Weapons of Mass Instruction, with platforms like Yuanfudao, Zuoyebang, and Ximalaya reaching hundreds of millions of learners each, and the 16 companies above reaching an aggregate of 1.3 billion learners. Yuanfudao and Zuoyebang also had two mega-rounds this year, raising $1.75B in total. While K-12 online tutoring and English Language Learning (ELL) have continued to be the two largest categories for startups, other areas such as programming and math (e.g., Codemao, VIPThink), online higher ed (e.g., Kaikeba), and in-classroom tools (e.g., Classin, Squirrel AI) have been growing rapidly.
The US is also heavily represented on this list with 17 companies headquartered in the United States. Platforms helping transition education online, such as Coursera, Udemy, and ClassDojo, have seen tremendous COVID acceleration around the world A.D. The broader themes playing out in the US include an increase in digital connectivity between students, teachers, and parents, bridging the divide between home and the classroom (e.g., ClassDojo and Remind); accelerated learning opportunities, “RoboED”, that use AI tutors and peer-to-peer learning models to scale personalized education (e.g., Photomath, Course Hero); the democratization of knowledge available in both schools and universities (e.g., Coursera); and continuous, lifelong learning (e.g., Udemy, Guild Education).
India, home to the largest private EdTech company in the world by valuation in BYJU’s, has emerged as a new leader in EdTech. BYJU’s is on track to double its business to over half a billion dollars in revenue this year, and Vedantu is also on a hyper-growth spurt, more than tripling its business since March. Besides the six companies on the GSV GET50, India has a building pipeline of candidates for next year’s list.
Sector-wise, K-12 platforms make up 56% of the list, Workforce and Consumer Learning platforms represent 32%, and Higher Ed platforms account for 12%. Currently, there are 20 unicorns in the top 50, and we expect this number to nearly double over the next year.
Zoom in with us this week for our 11th Annual ASU+GSV Summit, a rich program offered virtually—and at no charge—with over 30,000 registrants to date. We anticipate an exceptional event, and we hope you’ll join us September 29th through October 1st, as well as October 7th and 8th, 2020.
In its inaugural year, the GSV Cup is a venture competition presented by Google Cloud, GSV Ventures, Holon IQ, and Brand Capital International where seed-stage education companies compete for $250K of non-dilutive capital and $150K in Google Cloud credits. Watch the 180 semi-finalists—and Stars of Tomorrow—present their companies and be a part of the selection of the winner live on October 1st during the ASU+GSV Summit Awards Show at 9:30 am PST.