What a difference a decade makes.
Starting in 2010, a host of developments began to fuel excitement around building technology to support teachers and students in grades K through 12. In that year, the U.S. Department of Education released its first National Education Technology Plan and backed it up with funding for districts. Apple created the first iPad, and a year later, Google released its first Chromebook. At the same time, software could be stored “in the cloud” and updated on hundreds of computers at once with merely a few clicks. And nonprofits began to push the government to redirect federal funding to pay for more bandwidth to schools. With these developments starting to take shape, an opportunity opened for a generation of young entrepreneurs to build solutions designed to make a difference in the classroom.
Investors plunged into those churning currents: Private capital investments in K-12 edtech products for the U.S. market peaked in 2015, cresting at more than $500 million in a single year. Since then, the frenzied optimism of the first half of the decade has quieted. Educators have grown more savvy about why, when, and how to use technology, and what tools to use. The federal government has largely ceded leadership in education to the 50 states. Much as in other technology sectors of the economy, edtech investors have opted to make larger, safer bets on fewer companies—and raised their demands on companies seeking investment.