Online Education Platform Desire2Learn Raises Massive $80M Round From NEA & OMERS Ventures

Desire2Learn, a Canadian online education startup that offers an increasingly popular cloud learning platform for higher education, K-12 and Fortune 1000 companies, just announced that it has raised a $80 million Series A round led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and OMERS Ventures. The company, which is based in RIM’s hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, says that it plans to use this investment to bolster its customer service and cloud infrastructure, support global growth and to accelerate the development of its platform.

Today’s $80 million financing marks the first time the company has taken an outside investment and is actually the largest-ever VC investment in a Canadian software company.

For NEA, this is also one of the company’s largest investments. The global venture capital firm just closed on its new $2.6 billion fund in July and today’s investment was made out of this fund. According to NEA, $1 trillion is spent on K-12 and higher education globally and technology is starting to transform how education works. Desire2Learn, NEA’s Jon Sakoda and Ravi Viswanathan write today, “is at the forefront of this shift with its leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) learning platform.”

Desire2Learn’s platform, which competes with incumbents like Blackboard, currently has about 700 clients and 8 million learners have used its tools. The company was founded all the way back in 1999.

Desire2Learn’s platform aims to cover virtually every angle of the online education experience. Here is a short list of what the company’s services capabilities:

  • Comprehensive cloud-based learning platform – Delivers a unified, scalable learning platform through both public and private cloud infrastructure.
  • Mobile-centric education experience – Provides full support for mobile devices and tablets to increase engagement and enrich the learning experience.
  • Digital content discovery and distribution – Empowers instructors with new digital content through numerous top publisher partners from around the world as well as through open content marketplaces.
  • Learning analytics – Offers complete learning analytic engine to optimize content and learning pathways, provide predictive models, and to support improvements in retention and learner outcomes.
  • Open API integration – Supports open standards including The IMS Global Learning Consortium specifications, Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and extensibility with other learning applications.