The HP-Compaq deal (see story, Page One) might be the most significant recent company merger, but it wasn’t the only deal affecting schools.
Harcourt Education Inc. of Orlando, Fla., said it had reached an agreement Aug. 28 to acquire Classroom Connect, a pioneer and leading provider of internet-based curriculum and professional development.
And Riverdeep Group plc, another supplier of web-based learning solutions for K-12 schools, announced an agreement Sept. 6 to acquire the education assets of the Learning Co. (TLC), a publisher of educational software used by schools and home consumers.
Classroom Connect will continue to operate as an autonomous business unit within Harcourt Education, according to Judith Hamilton, Classroom Connect’s president and chief executive. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“For the meantime, it’s ‘business as usual’ and our customers will not be impacted,” Hamilton said. “The high-quality curriculum products and professional development resources we offer, such as Connected University … and the Quest Channel, will still exist.”
In the long term, “we expect Classroom Connect’s relationship with Harcourt Education to benefit our customers a great deal, providing them with an even greater set of online and face-to-face educational resources that will enable them to fully embrace technology in their classrooms.”
Adam Newman, a senior analyst for Boston-based market research firm Eduventures.com, said both companies stand to benefit from the acquisition. Harcourt’s platform “gives Classroom Connect potential access to a much broader audience,” he said. In return, the smaller company gives Harcourt an entry into the eLearning space already occupied by rivals such as McGraw-Hill and Pearson Education.
“Harcourt had been a little late into this space,” Newman said. But Harcourt’s choice of partners indicates it recognizes professional development as a key component of an eLearning solution, a factor that bodes well for the company, Newman added.
Under the terms of the Riverdeep-TLC acquisition, Riverdeep has agreed to pay Gores Technology Group, the current owner of TLC, $40 million in stock and assume about $20 million in liabilities in the form of inter-company debt, in exchange for TLC’s assets. These include educational software titles such as Reader Rabbit, Carmen Sandiego, ClueFinders, Oregon Trail, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, and Zoombinis, among others.
Newman said the deal “is consistent with what Riverdeep has done since it went public: putting together pieces of what it considers a comprehensive [online] solution.” Riverdeep also has acquired companies such as Teacher Universe and Edmark Corp. in recent months.
“The Learning Co. has been dragged through the mud a little bit lately, but it’s still a significant asset,” Newman said. He added that Riverdeep “may be a little more nimble than larger publishers and could pose significant competition for them.”