The educational technology company 2U is buying the online course nonprofit EdX, including its brand, marketplace and website, in an $800 million cash deal announced Tuesday.
EdX, launched by MIT and Harvard in 2012, was a pioneer in massive open online courses, with its name recognition and status within the edtech market listed as one of the reasons behind the deal in a 2U investor update on Tuesday. EdX serves more than 39 million students, while 2U is listed as having 15 million student users. The deal will “combine 2U’s marketing engine with edX’s consumer brand and marketplace,” according to the investor presentation.
EdX will move under 2U as a “public benefit” arm, defined on the MIT website as a designation for a part of a company to “focus on achieving one or more public benefits in addition to serving its shareholders.” The deal’s proceeds will go to a new nonprofit led by MIT and Harvard, focused on addressing inequity in online learning. That approach will explore using AI for personalizing online learning, according to the MIT website.
“As edX looks to its next phase of growth and impact, joining forces with 2U marks a major milestone in our evolution,” EdX founder Anant Agarwal said in a press release.