After years in the backwaters of venture capital, edtech had a booming 2020. Not only did its products become must-haves after schools around the globe went remote, but investors also poured capital into leading projects. There was even some exit activity, with well-known edtech players like Coursera going public earlier this year.
But despite a rush of private capital — which has continued into this year, as we’ll demonstrate — edtech stocks have taken a hammering in recent weeks. So while venture capitalists and other startup investors are pumping more capital into the space in hopes of future outsize returns, the stock market is signaling that things might be heading in the other direction.
Who’s right? One investor that The Exchange spoke to noted that market turbulence is just that, and that he’s tuning into activity but not yet changing his investment strategy. At the same time, the recent volatility is worth tracking in case it’s a preview of edtech’s slowdown.
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Let’s look at the changing value of edtech stocks in recent months, parse some preliminary data via PitchBook that provides a good feel for the directional momentum of edtech venture capital, and try to see if there’s irrational exuberance among private investors.
You could argue that it’s public investors who are suffering from irrational pessimism and that private-market investors have the right of it. But since public markets price private markets, we tend to listen to them. Let’s go!
We’re sure that you want to get into the private-market data, so we’ll be brief in describing the public-market carnage. What follows is a digest of edtech stocks and their declines from recent highs:
- Compared to its 52-week high, Chegg stock has lost over a third of its value.
- After reaching $62.53 per share in April, Coursera has shed about half of its value and is trading close to its $33 IPO price.
- 2U closed at $33.92 per share yesterday, its shares also losing half of their value compared to their 52-week high.
- Staying on that theme, Stride (K12) closed at $26.77 per share yesterday, which is about half of its 52-week high.