GSV Edtech 150 — the Most Transformational Growth Companies in Digital Learning

Luben Pampoulov
Growth Shots
Published in
6 min readMay 18, 2021

By Luben Pampoulov, Mujtaba Wani, Kevin Zhang

A year ago, we published the inaugural GSV Global Edtech 50 — a list of the 50 most important Edtech businesses in the world. At about the same time, 1.6 billion people became online learners overnight as Covid erupted and its impact ushered a new era in Education, from BC to AD — Before Coronavirus to After Disease.

Edtech experienced unprecedented acceleration and saw the emergence of rapidly scaling digital learning models that we at GSV call Weapons of Mass Instruction. Many sizable Edtech companies that were previously growing between 50–100% per year suddenly saw massive jumps of 3x, 5x, or even 10x in their business.

Learners discovered powerful study tools. Teachers adopted modern technology to teach online. Businesses operated remotely and did that just as well. Employees saw an opportunity to up-skill and re-skill. The future was suddenly pulled to the present and Edtech trends accelerated by a number of years. The Genie was not going back in the Bottle, and a new wave of innovation emerged. These catalysts also triggered large capital inflows into the sector and caused valuations to rise. In 2020, global VC investment in Edtech jumped 171% to $13.3 billion, and year-to-date in 2021 the number is ~$5 billion.

Source: GSV, HolonIQ

Today, we are excited to release the GSV Edtech 150 — a list that has tripled to 150 because of the rapid scaling of the sector in the last 12 months. These are the 150 most transformative growth companies in Digital Learning. We evaluated over 2,000 VC and PE-backed private companies across several factors — revenue scale, revenue growth, user reach, geographic diversification, and margins profile, to arrive at the top 150 companies. In a time of great uncertainty in the world, these platforms have been able to aid in transitioning classrooms online, maintaining access to educational resources and opportunities, and up-skilling and re-skilling workers. We estimate that the 150 companies reach ~3 billion people, or close to half of the global population, and generate approximately $20 billion in revenue.

We increased this year’s list from 50 to 150 names as a direct result of the growth in Edtech. Over the last 12 months, the basket of Digital Learning public companies advanced 96%. In addition, we are seeing a new wave of public companies with Coursera, Roblox and Thinkific already trading, Nerdy in the process via a SPAC, and a handful of late stage private companies including BYJU’S, Course Hero, Quizlet, Duolingo, Udemy, Hotmart, and many more positioned as potential candidates.

Note: Edtech Basket includes publicly listed digital learning companies TAL, DCBO, EDU, GSX, CHGG, COE, LOPE, LRN, TWOU, BFAM, Kahoot!

Source: Yahoo Finance, Euronext

On the private side, the number of Edtech unicorns jumped from 30 a year ago to 46 today, with 20 new unicorns added and 4 that graduated to public companies. Meanwhile, 3 Decacorns emerged — private companies that are valued at $10 billion and over, with China’s Yuanfudao and Zuoyebang, and India’s BYJU’S in this elite club. China and India continue to be major forces in Edtech driven by high household spending on education and local cultures that embrace Education and after school learning. Of the 46 unicorns on the GSV Edtech 150, 13 are in China.

Interestingly, while Chinese companies continue to be mainly operating in their home market, Indian companies are showing success abroad; BYJU’S is increasingly a global brand with strong traction in the U.S. and elsewhere, Quizizz has become a very popular learning tool across U.S. high schools, and Eruditus is helping learners globally to access high-quality university content.

North America and the U.S. specifically is the leading geography within the Edtech 150. North America is nearly half of the list, China is close to a fifth, and India is a 10th. The three markets combined represent over 3/4 of the list. EMEA is strong at 15% of the Edtech 150 and with several high quality, fast-growing companies such as Photomath, OpenClassrooms, Brainly, and GoStudent. LATAM and specifically Brazil is showing strong early trends, with Hotmart, Descomplica and UOL Edtech all having impressive growth.

Sector-wise, K12 is the best-represented segment at 33% of the top 150 companies, with another 13% being blended K12/Higher Education companies. Workforce Learning and Adult Consumer combined are 37%, pure-play Higher Education is 14%, and Early Childhood is 3%. Basically, the 150 companies are quite evenly distributed between three major groups — Life-Long Learning, Higher Ed, and K12.


The GSV Edtech 150 list is comprised of the leading and most transformational, private companies in the Digital Learning space. These are the top 150 companies with the largest and fastest-growing global learning impact. The key factors for inclusion are:

  • VC or PE-backed private companies in Digital Learning, excluding companies that are public or have filed to be public.
  • Companies that are post Series A in their development with the exception of bootstrapped companies that have achieved meaningful scale with $10+ million in revenue.
  • Organic top line growth at over 30%

The selection is determined by our internally developed scoring system that applies scores across several KPIs:

  • Revenue scale
  • Revenue growth
  • Active learner reach
  • International reach
  • Margin profile

Note: As we might have missed companies that should be included in the GSV Edtech 150, we encourage readers to let us know if that is the case.

As we approach this year’s ASU+GSV Summit on August 9–11, we look forward to see many of the GSV Edtech 150 companies and CEOs LIVE in San Diego.

GSV Edtech 150

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