Desire2Learn: Leading the Renaissance in Education

Sep 04, 2012

Today we announced our investment in Desire2Learn, one of the largest and fastest growing cloud learning platforms for the education industry. The $80 million financing is the first ever for the company and is one of the largest investments we’ve made out of our new $2.6 billion fund. Over $1 trillion is spent on K-12 and higher education globally, and schools are in the midst of a technology renaissance that is reinventing the classroom as we know it. Textbooks are being re-imagined for a learning environment that revolves around mobile tablets and smart phones. Online courses and lectures can be shared and students can collaborate around the world through social networks. “Big Data” analytics can personalize educational content for each individual student. And cloud computing and low cost bandwidth has made high-quality instruction and educational materials available to anyone with an Internet connection. These enabling technologies are fueling a fundamental transformation in education, particularly among many of the world’s largest and most influential universities and school districts, and Desire2Learn is at the forefront of this shift with its leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) learning platform.

NEA has a long history of investing in great SaaS companies who have disrupted client-server incumbents by offering more innovative cloud-based solutions, such as and Workday. Desire2Learn is that disruptive force in the education industry, offering a unique alternative to legacy offerings and focusing specifically on the needs of the largest and most demanding customers in the industry. Today over 700 clients and 8 million students use Desire2Learn, including several of the largest public universities in North America, the largest K-12 public school district in the US, and a roster of Fortune 1000 companies around the world.

This substantial round of funding will enable Desire2Learn to grow its cloud infrastructure to meet customer demand, expand into new emerging markets, and continue to provide the most innovative products for schools undergoing this important transformation. The largest learning institutions around the world are moving rapidly onto Desire2Learn’s cloud, enabling teachers, students, and administrators to lead the renaissance in education and leave their legacy solutions behind.

The founder and CEO of Desire2Learn, John Baker, is an inspiring entrepreneur with a lifelong commitment to education. The son of two teachers, John founded Desire2Learn while in college and has overseen its growth and expansion into one of the largest education software companies in the world. It is a privilege to work with entrepreneurs like John, who aspire to build great businesses that meaningfully impact the world around us. The demands for innovation in education have never been greater, and we’re inspired by what is possible with Desire2Learn.

Jon’s perspectives on VC and entrepreneurship can be found at or on Twitter @jonsakoda.