The education industry is steadily merging with the technology industry as distance learning becomes a necessity, smartphone apps become mainstream, and traditional forms of higher education become less attainable.
Because of this, the education technology, or edtech, industry is becoming a market of its own, offering technological tools to assist schools, companies, and individuals further their education.
In this article, you’ll find the top 15 privately owned edtech companies in the world, ranked by their overall valuation in 2020.
15 Largest Privately Owned EdTech Companies in the World
Yuanfudao. Beijing, China
Yuanfudao began in 2012 as a homework tutoring app and has expanded into live tutoring, online QA sessions, and math problem checking services.
The company has approximately 30,000 employees in China, and in 2014 it partnered with several of China’s top universities to use artificial intelligence to collect data from the app.
The universities look at the data to see what their students are struggling with and then adjust their curriculum and class structures to better help students succeed.
BYJU’S. Bengaluru, India
BYJU’S focuses on producing apps and programs to make learning fun and easy for students. Its main app is designed for students in grades 4-12 and covers subjects such as math, science, English, and the arts. Users can participate in activities or view live lessons from some of India’s top teachers.
The company has partnered with Disney to incorporate beloved Disney and Pixar characters and stories into its newest app, making it an even more enticing and enjoyable product for its target audience of students in grades 1-3.
Zuoyebang. Beijing, China
Literally translated as “homework help,” Zuoyebang is a Chinese learning app that started as a free photo search app. In 2015, just a year after it started, the company spun off on its own from Baidu, Inc.
The app allows K-12 students to get help with their homework questions by uploading their assignments and using the app’s artificial intelligence to check their work. Users can also live stream classes.
VIPKid. Beijing, China
Founded in 2013, VIPKid is a Chinese company that hires instructors in the U.S. and Canada to remotely teach English to children in China. The teachers are paid per class, so they can work as much or as little as they want to according to their schedules, and students pay for the classes per hour.
VIPKid has tens of thousands of instructors and hundreds of thousands of students using its platform. The company also released an app called Lingo Bus that connects elementary-age students with Chinese teachers so that they can learn Mandarin.
VIPKid is based in Beijing, but it also has headquarters in San Francisco, California, and in 2020, it launched its subsidiary, Dami Online School.
Udemy. San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Founded in 2010, Udemy is a massive open online course (MOOC) platform that offers over 150,000 video classes to professionals and students. Users can enroll in individual courses or apply to create and teach their courses.
Most of the classes are centered on professional or practical skills such as Excel, drawing, and coding that students can improve on for their own benefit or to better qualify for a job. Udemy also offers a service for businesses that they can use to train their employees.
While Udemy is based in the U.S., the majority of its users are from countries outside the U.S.
Coursera. Mountain View, California, U.S.A.
Also a MOOC company, Coursera partners with universities to provide online classes, certificates, and even degree programs for its users.
77 million students around the world use the platform, and 6,000 campuses, governments, and businesses — including over 100 Fortune 500 companies — use Coursera’s Enterprise platforms designed for these organizations.
Companies and government organizations can use Coursera to train their employees, or students can enroll in classes and programs on their own.
Duolingo. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Duolingo is an online language-learning service that offers free training in over 30 languages. The platform uses a combination of both implicit and explicit learning, allowing users to pick up on patterns on their own in addition to learning the technical aspects of a language.
Duolingo has over 300 million users around the world and uses its broad platform to conduct research, to use data to continually improve the learning experience for its students and to try out new language-learning methods. The organization publishes and shares its research reports as well.
The company started in 2011 and has offices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Seattle, Washington, New York, New York, and Beijing, China.
Unacademy. Bengaluru, India
With over 50 million learners, over 1,000 educators, and over 200 thousand daily active users, it’s no surprise that Unacademy is India’s largest online learning platform.
Its main goal is to help students prepare for professional and educational entrance exams in India, and students can watch recorded lectures, take quizzes and practice exams, and enroll in live classes where they can chat with their instructors.
Unacademy was officially founded in 2015, but it began in 2010 as a YouTube channel. Now, it has several subsidiaries as well, including Prepladder, WiFiStudy, Ono Labs, and Private Limited.
Zhangmen. Shanghai, China
Zhangmen was founded in 2015 as an online tutoring platform for Chinese K-12 students.
Now, it has over 40 million users across China, is the country’s leading online education company, and offers online courses in addition to tutoring services.
ApplyBoard. Ontario, Canada
ApplyBoard is unique from many of the other companies on this list because its mission is to help connect students, recruiters, and academic institutions to streamline the search, application, and acceptance procedures for studying abroad.
The company has partnerships with over 1,200 schools in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and Australia and over 4,000 recruiting organizations. ApplyBoard works with students in these countries as well as China, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Nepal, and Bangladesh, to name a few.
ApplyBoard started in 2015 and has now grown to over 550 employees across the globe. It was also named the fastest-growing technology company in Canada in 2019.
Course Hero. Redwood City, California, U.S.A.
Course Hero is one of the oldest companies on this list, as it began in 2006. The platform allows users to get live homework help and look up study guides, notes, practice problems, and more. Students can even find study materials curated for a particular class at their university.
Users can subscribe to the platform to be able to use all of its features or get access to study documents by uploading their own. It isn’t just for students, though, as field experts can apply to become remote tutors as well.
The company has over 10 million students using the platform, and it has several subsidiaries, including Symbolab and Cardinal Scholars.
Quizlet. San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
If you talk to even a handful of high school and college students, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any who haven’t heard of Quizlet.
This free online study platform started in 2005, and it allows students to upload their study questions and answers to create virtual flashcards, as well as allowing them to find others’ uploaded sets to study with. Quizlet also turns uploaded questions into games and tests to help students further in their studies.
The company has over 50 million students using it each month and serves 130 countries.
Guild Education. Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Guild Education’s founders started the company in 2015 in order to help working adults without a high school diploma or college degree achieve those milestones through their employers’ tuition benefits. Now, Guild hears from 10,000 employees each month who want to take classes.
The company partners with companies and institutions to make it easy for employees to go back to school and for employers to keep track of their tuition reimbursement benefits.
While Guild is free for its company partners, the organization’s over 12 university partners pay for its services, since the company is effectively recruiting students for them.
Knowbox. Beijing, China
Founded in 2014, KnowBox is slightly different from the rest of these companies in that it’s a platform for schools to use to help teachers and students manage homework assignments.
In 2019, the company announced that it is going to be expanding into AI-enabled learning services for students both in the classroom and at home.
Knowbox has over 40 million users at 100,000 schools across China.
Udacity. Mountain View, California, U.S.A.
A MOOC organization founded in 2011, Udacity offers online programs designed to train working adults in high-demand, technological skills.
Its programs include data science, programming, business, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and cloud computing. Students can enroll on their own, or organizations can partner with Udacity to provide technology skills training for their employees.
Udacity has over 11.5 million users and one subsidiary: CloudLabs, Inc.
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