Corporate, Domestic, For-Profit, Investors, Mergers & Acquisitions, Not-for-Profit, Required, Startups, Technology, University & College - Written by on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 7:00 - 0 Comments

Private Equity Firm Weld North Holdings Purchasing Learning House Inc.

by woodleywonderworks via Flickr under CreativeCommons

The smart money (hedge funds, private equity) interest in digital learning continues to expand as Greenwich, Conn.,-based Weld North Holdings LLC, a fund related to private equity giant KKR, plans to acquire Learning House Inc. The Chairman and CEO of Weld is Jonathan Grayer, who used to be chairman and CEO of Kaplan Inc. While he was there, Kaplan started an online university that is now one of the largest in the country with 50,000 students. It is also a source of controversy along with other for-profit schools, even by the account of The Washington Post, which like Kaplan Inc. is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Co.

Louisville, Ken.,-based Learning House does online course development and publishing, program marketing and enrollment management, infrastructure support, learning management system customization. It also does faculty and staff training and consulting. In other words, it provides a lot of infrastructure to schools or colleges offering online courses or programs. It is a play by Weld to sell the pipes rather than the water. It is their third education-related acquisition. We wrote about this earlier deal Weld North made in July.

Learning House is “a business we believe can quickly grow to become the market leader in the multi-billion dollar not-for-profit postsecondary online education services industry,” said Grayer. He said Learning House offers a wide breadth of products to schools, especially to small and mid-size colleges.

In the third quarter 2011, Learning House signed six new partner schools, with 22 in total added for the year. Learning House now partners with more than 90 colleges and universities in 30 states.

Weld points to Eduventures estimates that 2.78 million students enrolled in fully online programs in 2010 – 2011, or 13.5% of all students enrolled in postsecondary institutions. It notes in a press release:

The entire Learning House management team and staff will remain on board, including David T. Richardson, who joined the company in 2007 as President and Chief Executive Officer. Rounding out the team will be Todd Zipper, an Operating Executive at Weld North, who will serve as Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President for Learning House. Prior to Weld North, Zipper co-founded and served as Chief Operating Officer of Education Connection, a marketing services technology company focused on the online education sector. Zipper will be instrumental in working closely with clients to grow online enrollments. The company will remain headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky where it plans to add over fifty new employees in the next twelve months.

The parties did not disclose terms or price of the deal.


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