Discovery Education soon to be in the hands of a new owner


The private equity firm Francisco Partners has agreed to acquire a major stake in Discovery Education, a large provider of digital educational content like textbooks, games and professional development resources.

Discovery Communications — the parent company of Discovery Education, best known for its television networks Discovery Channel and Animal Planet — will be licensing the brand to Francisco Partners for $120 million but will maintain a minority equity interest in it, according to an announcement.

Since the firm’s launch in 1999, Francisco Partners has invested in more than 200 technology companies, making it one of the most active investors in the tech industry right now. If the deal with Discovery Education goes through, it will be the second educational technology company Francisco Partners has acquired in two years. Last year, the firm purchased myON, a pre-K-12 digital reading platform.

Bill Goodwyn, president and CEO of Discovery Education, said in a statement that the company will continue its “longstanding partnership with the Discovery Communications family.”

Discovery Education’s most notable services and devices include STEM Connect, a program to teach high-demand STEM skills; its award-winning “techbooks”; and Discovery Education Streaming, an educational video resource.

The advent of subscription video streaming — specifically through Discovery Education Streaming — was recognized as a major edtech product of the last quarter-century in EdScoop’s and the Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) virtual EdTech Time Capsule. The edtech community nominated and then voted to enshrine this product — as well as Discovery Education’s Goodwyn — in the time capsule.

Over 50 million students and 4.5 million teachers use Discovery Education in the United States, the company says, and Scott Kinney, president of K-12 education at Discovery Education, said he hopes the investment will add even more to the company’s innovative services.

Jason Brein, a partner at the San Francisco-based Francisco Partners, also expressed his eagerness for the acquisition, which is expected to happen in the first half of 2018.

“We are impressed by Discovery Education’s positive impact on student learning, and are excited to help support Discovery Education as it transforms teaching and learning around the globe,” Brein said in a statement.