When Edtech Networks Combine: SIIA’s Education Division Absorbs...

Mergers and Acquisitions

When Edtech Networks Combine: SIIA’s Education Division Absorbs Education Industry Association

By Tony Wan     Apr 7, 2016

When Edtech Networks Combine: SIIA’s Education Division Absorbs Education Industry Association

Industry associations operate by a simple rule: ensure a stable, vibrant market for their members to succeed. But some groups adapt to change better than others.

The Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN), the education division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), is taking over the assets of the Education Industry Association (EIA). Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 1990 as The Association of Educators in Private Practice, EIA had roots in serving entrepreneurs offering private tutoring services. As it evolved, the organization’s membership expanded to include other supplemental education service (SES) providers, including brick-and-mortar test-prep centers and after-school tutoring companies such as Kumon.

At its peak, EIA claimed several hundred companies as members. It ran two annual conferences—EDventures in the summer, and Education Industry Days in the winter—to connect business leaders, funders, government officials and other key players in the industry.

Associations like SIIA and EIA make introductions, host workshops, conduct market research, and lobby policymakers on behalf of their members. Karen Billings, ETIN’s Vice President and Managing Director, says these efforts help companies “stay on top of new technologies, whether they’re the Internet or mobile devices, so that they can be ready when schools are ready to adopt” new tools.

But like the companies they serve, associations are subject to the winds of market and policy change, says Frank Catalano, an industry veteran who has emceed and keynoted numerous education events, including those by ETIN and EIA. Many of EIA’s core members received federal funds earmarked for SES providers under the No Child Left Behind Act. But as states received waivers in 2012 to spend the money elsewhere, the number of companies dwindled, Steven Pines, EIA’s former president, told Education Week. As that source of funding dried up, so did the SES industry.

EIA wooed edtech startups but found itself competing with other industry groups. Also, the proliferation of conferences, pitch competitions and accelerator programs expanded opportunities for entrepreneurs to get in front of buyers, funders and business partners. “A lot of the perks you used to get only through industry associations became available à la carte,” Catalano tells EdSurge.

Billings says she was contacted by EIA’s former executive director about a month ago to bring the two groups together, and “very quickly we wrote an agreement that was finalized last Monday.”

The roughly 80 companies that are currently in EIA’s network will be part of ETIN. Their membership will extend for the remainder of their 12-month membership with EIA. (A company that joined EIA in November 2015 will be a member of ETIN until November 2016). As a result of the deal, ETIN’s community will number more than 230 companies. (Only a handful of companies were part of both networks, according to Billings.)

ETIN’s membership costs are determined as a percentage of a company’s revenues. Annual dues can range from $770 for a startup, or over six figures for companies like Apple.

Other assets that Billings’ team will inherit from EIA include a partnership with John Hopkins University to support a “joint center for education innovation and entrepreneurship.” EIA has also worked with Digital Promise to publish reports on barriers to technology procurement in K-12 districts.

Robert Lytle, the current EIA Board President and Managing Director and Co-Head of Education at Parthenon-EY, will join ETIN’s Board of Directors. Billings expects to have plenty of discussions over the coming weeks on how to best merge EIA’s programs under its umbrella. One of their first big tasks will involve sorting out the calendar, as both ETIN’s annual industry symposium and EIA’s EDventures conference are scheduled for the same week this year.

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