Knewton Was Acquired For Less Than $17M, and Former CEO Brian Kibby Has...

Mergers and Acquisitions

Knewton Was Acquired For Less Than $17M, and Former CEO Brian Kibby Has Left

By Tony Wan     Sep 7, 2019

Knewton Was Acquired For Less Than $17M, and Former CEO Brian Kibby Has Left

When Wiley announced back in May that it had acquired Knewton, both companies kept mum on how much the deal was worth. Sources told EdSurge that it was in the $10 million range—and they were right.

In its most recent earnings report, which covers the three months ended July 31, 2019, Wiley disclosed that it had “spent $73 million in total on acquisitions in the quarter, including zyBooks and Knewton.” Wiley had disclosed paying $56 million in cash for zyBooks, a digital courseware provider for STEM and computer science subjects. In addition to those deals, Wiley said it also made “two immaterial acquisitions” for its research publishing division.

The math suggests that Knewton was acquired for less than $17 million. That’s a hard hit for investors in the New York-based company, which had raised more than $180 million since its founding in 2008. For most of its years as a startup, Knewton focused on building adaptive learning technologies that it would license to publishers, before pivoting to sell its own courseware in late 2017.

Brian Kibby, who took over from Knewton founder Jose Ferreira as CEO in July 2017, has also moved on. This week, Kibby was named Senior Partner and CEO of N2Growth, a firm that helps businesses recruit and hire executive leaders. Kibby was previously an executive at McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson.

For fiscal Q1 2020, ending July 31, 2019, Wiley reported $423.5 million in revenue, a 3 percent increase over the same period last year.

The education services group, which includes its online program management business, reported a 69 percent boost in revenue, which the company attributed to its Learning House business that it bought for $200 million in November 2018. The publishing and professional learning business dipped by 7 percent, “mainly due to declines in the books businesses and test prep,” according to the company. Revenue from the research and publishing platform business grew by 2 percent.

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