Francisco Partners Buys Majority Interest in Discovery Education

Private equity firm Francisco Partners has agreed to purchase a majority interest in Discovery Education, a unit of Discovery Communications that provides digital content and professional development for public schools around the world, for about $120 million.

Discovery Communications will continue to hold a minority interest in Discovery Education, and will license the “Discovery Education” brand to Francisco Partners

Discovery Education was formed in 2004 after the combination of Discovery Channel School and United Learning Inc. Since then the unit has grown to become a global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional development, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Discovery Education serves 4.5 million educators and over 50 million students and its services are in half of U.S. classrooms, 50% of all primary schools in the U.K., and more than 50 countries.

“This transaction represents an incredibly exciting opportunity for Discovery Education to accelerate its growth with Francisco Partners, while also maintaining its longstanding partnership with the Discovery Communications family,” said Discovery Education CEO Bill Goodwyn in a statement. “We are well positioned to continue investing in our market-leading products and services, and this investment allows us to further expand our reach and impact both domestically and around the world.”

Discovery Education’s current management team, led by Goodwyn, will operate the company as a standalone business upon the closing of the transaction.

“From its earliest days, education has been rooted in Discovery’s DNA and we are extremely proud of the world-class business that Bill and his team have built and the impact Discovery Education’s products and services have made in transforming student achievement,” said Discovery Communications chief development, distribution and legal officer Bruce Campbell in a statement. “This transaction allows Discovery to focus on driving value and growth across our core media businesses, while maintaining our strong commitment to Discovery Education and its mission to promote and inspire learning. We are excited for its next chapter with Francisco Partners.”

Discovery Education partners with administrators, teachers, students and like-minded organizations worldwide to create dynamic digital learning environments that support the success of all learners. By combining award-winning digital textbooks, or Discovery Education “Techbooks,” and best-in-class supplemental services such as Discovery Education Streaming and STEM Connect with sustained professional development resources, Discovery Education is inspiring student curiosity and empowering educators every day to reimagine teaching and learning.

“We are thrilled to partner with Bill and the entire Discovery Education team as the company embarks on its next stage of growth,” said Francisco Partners partner Jason Brein in a statement. “We are impressed by Discovery Education’s positive impact on student learning, and are excited to help support Discovery Education as it transforms teaching and learning around the globe.”

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to occur in the first half of 2018.

“With this additional investment, Discovery Education will continue its laser-like focus on creating and delivering the innovative services today’s educators need to prepare students for success beyond the classroom,” added Dsicovery Education president K-12 Education Scott Kinney in a statement. “In the short term, our partners will see no change in their relationship with Discovery Education. However, long term, this new relationship tremendously enhances our ability to create the next generation of digital services and initiatives for educators worldwide.”