2U strengthens position as online education provider with acquisition of local start-up GetSmarter


Written by a Staff Writer at Sunday Times Business, 4 May 2017


US educational technology company 2U has announced it is in the process of acquiring Cape Town-based education start-up GetSmarter for $103m.

GetSmarter was founded by two brothers‚ Sam and Rob Paddock‚ in 2008 to offer short courses to working professionals through collaborations with universities. The business‚ which has posted phenomenal annual growth since its establishment‚ is in line with 2U’s offering of online degree programmes for universities in the US.

The global higher education market‚ in which both companies operate‚ is worth an estimated $1.9-trillion and is expected to grow 8% in 2017.

The tie-up is expected to close during the third quarter of 2017‚ and is the first major acquisition for 2U‚ which is a publicly traded company.

GetSmarter CEO‚ Sam Paddock‚ said in statement that the company was very pleased to be joining forces with 2U: “They bring both experience and capital to our business at a time in our growth trajectory that helps us serve more students and achieve excellent student outcomes at scale. Our plans don’t change; we simply continue‚ stronger than before.”

Since its inception‚ GetSmarter has partnered with higher education institutions — initially the University of Cape Town — which include the University of Cambridge‚ Harvard University’s strategic online learning initiative‚ HarvardX‚ and the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Locally‚ it has also partnered with the University of the Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch Business School.

GetSmarter said it represents a high growth business that has served more than 50‚000 students since inception‚ with course completion rates that average 88%.

Christopher Paucek‚ CEO and co-founder of 2U‚ said: “With GetSmarter‚ 2U expects to strengthen its position as a leader in digital education. We also expect to accelerate our growth‚ extend our global footprint and provide a broader suite of services by matching up more students to the right programmes at the right time as they further their professional and personal development.”

GetSmarter said that at the conclusion of the acquisition it will become an independently operating‚ wholly owned subsidiary of 2U‚ but will maintain its base in Cape Town. The company will continue to be operated by its current management team‚ including its founders‚ the Paddock brothers. Sam Paddock will remain CEO and report to Paucek.

This article was originally published in Times Live.

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