2015 was a strong year for education technology, with funding for EdTech startups soaring to $2.98 billion, according to a report from research firm CB Insights. In April 2015, EdTech pioneer Lynda.com (founded in 1995) was acquired by LinkedIn Corporation (LNKD) for $1.5 billion. The landmark deal was the biggest acquisition by LinkedIn to date and also the largest ever exit by an EdTech company. In this article, we’ll review ten leading venture-backed U.S. EdTech companies to watch in 2016, listed in order of their funding raised to date.


Founded: 2004
Funding: $162.5M 
Headquarters: Farmington, UT

One of the oldest and best funded EdTech companies, Pluralsight is on a mission to democratize professional technology learning. The company offers expert-led online training for software developers, IT administrators, and creative professionals. Pluralsight uses a subscription business model and pays its course authors a royalty.


Founded: 2011
Funding: $160M
Headquarters: Mountain View, CA

When Stanford University professor Sebastian Thrun first offered a free online version of his "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence" class, he attracted 160,000 students from across the globe. Seeing the massive potential for online education, Thrun and co-founders David Stavens and Mike Sokolsky launched Udacity. Udacity initially offered university-style courses but has changed its focus to technology-related courses such as iOS Developer, Data Analyst, and Tech Entrepreneur. (For more, see: Udacity & Google Android Nanodegree Program)


Founded: 2013
Funding: $133M
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA

AltSchool is a collaborative community of micro-schools founded by Max Ventilla, a serial entrepreneur and former Google, Inc. (GOOG) employee. AltSchool aims to improve primary education using a personalized weekly plan for students using a proprietary software platform. AltSchool does not use grades and does not rely on “on screen” learning.


Founded: 2012
Funding: $146.1M 
Headquarters: Mountain View, CA

Coursera is a for-profit education company that has partnered with universities and organizations globally to provide free massive open online courses (MOOCs). Coursera’s mission is to provide universal access to the world’s best education, and it offers a broad range of subjects ranging from arts and humanities to physical science and engineering. Currently, courses are available for free, but Coursera makes money by offering verified certifications that students can show to employers. (For more, see: How Coursera Works & Makes Money.)


Founded: 2008
Funding: $147.25M
Headquarters: New York, NY

Knewton, founded by Jose Ferreira, a former executive at Kaplan, Inc., has a mission to bring personalized education to the world. Knewton’s platform uses data to learn the way students learn, offering an adaptive educational experience and personalizing educational content. (For more, see: How Tech & Data Analysis Is Reshaping Education.)

General Assembly

Founded: 2011
Funding: $119.3M 
Headquarters: New York, NY

General Assembly is a school offering both online and on-campus courses, covering subjects such as coding, design, digital marketing and business. The company has expanded beyond its roots in New York to fifteen campuses across four continents. (For more, see: Top 5 Coding Camps To Launch Your Career.)


Founded: 2006
Funding: $115.1M
Headquarters: New York, NY

Kaltura is an open source video platform for online video management, creation, and collaboration. The platform has become a leader among educational institutions, with clients including Yale, Stanford, and MIT.


Founded: 2010
Funding: $113M
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA

Udemy is a marketplace for online courses, covering a wide variety of subjects, from programming to yoga. Udemy's courses are “crowdsourced” in that the platform allows users to create their own online courses and either sell them or offer them for free. The company has grown to offer over 35,000 courses, reaching over 9 million students. (For more, see: 3 Ways to Monetize Your Expertise.)


Founded: 2008
Funding: $87.5M
Headquarters: San Mateo, CA

Edmodo is a “social learning network” that allows teachers to share content and manage communication with students, colleagues and parents. The company aims to empower learners by better connecting them with the people and resources that can help them realize their full potential.


Founded: 2011
Funding: $83.3M 
Headquarters: Pittsburgh, PA

Duolingo is a leading language education platform, available through their website or via iOS and Android apps. The platform uses gamification to make the learning process fun. Users earn points for correct answers, work set time limits and progressively rise through different levels, and all their language courses are free. Duolingo has reached over 100 million users globally and was awarded free iPhone App of the Year in 2013. (For more, see: 5 Free Ways to Learn New Skills Online)

The Bottom Line

Following the lead of Lynda.com, learning via subscription to online courses remains the basis of many top EdTech companies. However, their approaches vary. While Coursera broke down barriers by making courses from elite universities such as Yale freely available to the public, Udemy democratized online learning by allowing the public to create and sell their own courses. The emerging theme of adaptive learning and personalization, appearing in companies such as Knewton and AltSchool, stands to further disrupt the existing models of education in place today.