Published on September 7, 2021

E-Learning Companies & the Private Equity Investment Backing Their Growth

Insight Highlights

Gain exposure to institutional private equity and hedge funds that are investing in e-learning companies and technologies for your clients’ portfolios.

E-learning, also referred to as online learning or electronic learning, is the acquisition of knowledge that takes place through electronic technologies and media. Simply put, e-learning is defined as “learning that is enabled electronically”.

Source:, Dec 2020. “What Is e-learning?”

Advances in technology are enabling our society to shift from traditional, in-person educational models to virtual programs. With modern software systems, people can learn anything from Python programming to Japanese and even accounting without ever leaving the comfort of their homes. Logging on to a computer or mobile device allows access to knowledge from world-renowned chefs, professors, and so much more programs developed in collaboration with a multitude of e-learning companies.

Indeed, e-learning companies help make this all a reality. They grant accessibility, affordability, and opportunity to people around the world. People who might have had limited opportunities due to their location now have access. Now, with e-learning, earning an interactive college degree online and learning at your own pace, for a far lower price than a traditional university, is possible.

E-learning is growing as technology increases its reach and reliability, with the e-learning industry projected by some to surpass $243 billion by 2022.

Source:, Dec 2020. “5 Examples of E-learning That Showcase its’ Power.”

E-learning systems can make it easier to reteach employees at the same time, regardless of where they are located around the world. A location-independent, technology-empowered system can help companies form a lasting web of global learners who can reclaim their lifestyle while balancing career goals. E-learning companies with web-based enterprise learning programs support pivots like these, providing an agile solution to a fast-paced market.

Source: Forbes, March 2021. “Five Reasons Online Learning Is The Future Of Professional Development.”

E-learning Trends in 2021

There is little doubt that the pandemic has had a fast-forward effect on the e-learning market since most schools and universities had to shift to online learning, and many people who want to learn new things turn their offline-learning habits to online.

Source: Forbes, Dec 2020. “The Expansion of Online Learning With Recent Fundings.”

As a result, today’s educational landscape is going through a revolution unlike any seen before. And the e-learning industry growth statistics don’t seem to be slowing down according to industry experts. The largest EdTech and e-learning companies are already valued at over $1 billion and will be the driving force of the entire online education industry.

Private Equity Investment in E-learning Companies

Education is a space that private equity players historically invest in, and now e-learning has created a more robust opportunity set. In response to Covid-19, e-learning startups and companies saw spikes in user growth, and they are now leveraging this momentum to raise additional capital from numerous private equity managers.

E-Learning Companies: iPad

E-learning is not a short-term trend, says Jeff Lieberman, a managing director at Insight Partners, a private equity firm that has backed nearly two dozen education companies, one example being Udemy. "Software will reshape learning both in the classroom and out well beyond the pandemic." Udemy is an e-learning company whose platform provides a marketplace offering more than 130,000 different online learning courses from business analytics to meditation lessons.

Source: Forbes, Dec 2020. “The Expansion of Online Learning With Recent Fundings.”

Duolingo another notable e-learning company, has raised $183.3 million over nine funding rounds. Major investors include Tim Ferriss, General Atlantic, Capital G, Drive Capital, and New Enterprise Associates.

Source: Online Education, 2021.” The Most Promising EdTech & Online Learning Startups in 2021.”

In April of 2021, Summit Partners, with participation from existing investor Conny Boersch, founder of Mountain Partners, invested $68 million in Lingoda, an e-learning company and trusted language school. The new funding will support Lingoda’s expansion in new markets, further enhance the company’s live classroom experiences, and accelerate the company’s already robust growth.

Source: Training Industry, April 2021.” Lingoda Announces $68 Million Growth Equity Investment From Summit Partners.”

Drawbacks and considerations

While e-learning covers a huge range of degrees, courses, classes, training, and lessons across multiple sectors, there are certain courses and fields that simply cannot be taught online due to the practical components. There is also a lack of student bodies, student communities, and clubs. Students can become lonely and isolated when learning remotely. To meet this challenge, e-learning companies are starting to add video discussions for students, slack communities, and “remote catch-ups”.

Source: SkillScouter, July 2021.” 17+ Disadvantages Of E-Learning You Need To Know.”

Other drawbacks include the fact that modules may not have assessments or even oversight from instructors, and, therefore, students only learn as much from the classes as they choose. While it may be ideal for many students, others might need more direct contact from an instructor.

Source: My E-learning World, 2021.” E-learning and Virtual Learning – Learn the Differences Between These Two Styles and Which is The Right Choice for You.”

Despite both employees and students reporting self-paced instruction as one of the key motivators to use e-learning, statistics on the self-paced e-learning market reveal a steep decline of 6.4% or more per year.

Source:, 2021. “100 Essential E-learning Statistics for 2021.”

However, increased demand and competition in the industry are forcing online learning and e-learning companies to adapt faster and provide a better experience for a larger global audience, which might place a strain on the e-learning industry.

Source: SkillScouter, July 2021.” 17+ Disadvantages Of E-Learning You Need To Know.”


Private equity firms are identifying e-learning investment opportunities that require attention, talent, technology, and immediate investment. With COVID-19 jeopardizing in-school learning, the widespread adoption of EdTech and e-learning software is likely to continue.

Gain exposure to institutional private equity and hedge funds that are investing in e-learning companies and technologies for your clients’ portfolios.