Desire2Learn Raises $85 Million Following Record Growth Year

Desire2Learn (D2L) has raised an $85 million series B round, led by Columbus Nova Technology Partners, Graham Holdings, Four Rivers Group, Aurion Capital and existing investors New Enterprise Associates and OMERS Ventures.

The big raise rivals that of Hootsuite’s $165 million in August 2013 and Shopify’s $100 million in December, among the largest Canadian venture capital raises. Previously, D2L’s 2012 funding of $80 million the largest venture capital financing in five years, at the time. It was also the largest financing of a Canadian software company in over a decade

For Desire2Learn, the funding comes after a year of record growth, higher education, K-12 and corporate markets, along with significant international expansion. It also comes on the heels of the company’s recent launch of Brightspace, D2L’s integrated learning platform, along with key partnerships with dozens of companies, including Microsoft and IBM.

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“D2L is committed to helping clients address the biggest challenges facing education and workforce development. By developing solutions that improve learner achievement, increase retention rates and inspire greater engagement, we’re empowering our customers to help learners reach their full potential,” said president John Baker. “This latest round of funding will help us scale faster globally, expand our services and continue to deliver solutions that personalize learning.”

D2L said it will use the investment to “extend its position as a market leader.”

From the sounds of it, most of the cash will go towards continued product work.The company recently unveiled updates to its cloud-based integrated learning platform and launched several new technologies to improve education, including: a predictive modelling and data visualization engine to help instructors keep learners on track for success, an innovative adaptive learning engine to personalize learning paths, a new eTextbook platform with expanded publisher partnerships and a new game-based learning engine.

“The education industry is undergoing a technology renaissance unlocked by cloud computing, digital content, mobile devices and big data analytics,” said Jon Sakoda, a partner at New Enterprise Associates. “We have seen tremendous adoption of D2L’s cloud-based learning platform in higher education, K-12 and the corporate sector. This round of funding should enable the company to further expand its global presence.”

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