- 2U, a company that helps colleges launch and run online programs, announced Tuesday it agreed with MOOC provider edX to acquire its assets for $800 million in cash.
- The online program will obtain edX’s brand, website, and marketplace, it said in the announcement. It will operate the nonprofit as a public benefit entity.
- The . It is the latest acquisition 2U has made in recent years to business, which includes short-term courses and boot camps.
EdX will add over 3,000 online programs — including free courses, graduate degrees, and professional certificates — to 2U’s offerings. According to the announcement, they will serve more than 185 nonprofit colleges.
2U, founded in 2008, made its name by helping top-ranked colleges create online programs. But the company has made moves in recenta wider range of credentials, including boot camps and short-term courses.
Acquiring edX makes short courses a much more meaningful part of 2U’s business, said Trace Urdan, managing director at Tyton Partners, an investment banking and. “2U already has a short course offering,” he said. “This makes it much larger, much more global than before.”
EdX will gain resources from 2U that will help it provide more services to its partner colleges, Anant Agarwal, the nonprofit’s CEO, said during a call Tuesday with reporters. “2U is one of the world’s best instruction design andservices organizations, so our partners can benefit from that.”
Agarwal founded edX in 2012 with the help of his colleagues at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to bring online courses to the masses. But the nonprofit has struggled to find a sustainable business model, posting annual losses mostits creation.
In the 2020 fiscal year, for instance, edX earned nearly $85 million in revenue but had $102 million in expenses, according.
Alan Garber, the co-chair of edX’s board and provost at Harvard, told reporters the nonprofit explored several “strategic alternatives” before agreeing to the acquisition, which he said was better than remaining independent.
EdX officials may view the acquisition as a pathway to sustainability, especially while enthusiasm forruns high. “2U is known (to be) disciplined, and they develop a strategy,” said Phil Hill, partner with ed MindWires.
Agarwal said 2U would place all of edX’s workers in similar positions. He will determine his next role in the— whether through 2U, edX, or a nonprofit.
The acquisition may run into some roadblocks, observers said. For one, colleges that partnered with edX, because it is a nonprofit, may terminate those relationships due to the deal. And it could not easy to integrate the 2U and edX software.
The deal is poised to make waves in the online program management and MOOC sectors. With 2U’s backing, edX could now pose a greater threat to Coursera, a popular MOOC platform. And some OPMmay find it harder to compete with 2U because of its new college partners.
“Their coverage is daunting at this point,” Urdan said. “It becomes that much harder for a smaller player to survive.”