SoftBank invests $215 million in education start-up Kahoot as coronavirus boosts e-learning

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Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp., reacts during a dialog session with Jack Ma, former chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., not pictured, at Tokyo Forum 2019 in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.

Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg via Getty Images

LONDON — SoftBank has invested $215 million in Norwegian education start-up Kahoot, taking a 9.7% stake in the company, as demand for online learning platforms skyrockets during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Oslo-based firm said Tuesday it had agreed to sell 43 million new shares at a price of 46 Norwegian krone — or about $5 — per share to SoftBank. It plans to use funds raised from the deal to fuel growth through new partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions, CEO Eilert Hanoa told CNBC.

“It’s all about the general switch in mindset from digital tools being a nice-to-have additional set of features in schools and classrooms, to being maybe the most important toolkit they can use to create engagement,” Hanoa said in an interview Tuesday.

Founded in 2012, Kahoot is a game-based learning service that lets players create and take part in multiple-choice quizzes. One side of the business focuses on schools and home learning, while the other centers on corporate clients looking to make training sessions and presentations.

Educational technology, or “edtech,” has flourished this year as the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close and increased demand for remote learning software. That’s grabbed the attention of investors: Microsoft, for example, invested over $1 million in U.K.-based computing start-up Kano for a minority stake.

And Kahoot is no exception, securing a $28 million round of funding in June. The company, which is listed on Oslo’s Merkur Market, has seen its shares skyrocket over 150% since the start of the year. Hanoa said the firm now plans to launch a full initial public offering on Norway’s main stock market in early 2021.

“We’ve already accumulated approximately 8,000 new shareholders,” he told CNBC. “We believe that, by doing a re-IPO on the main list on the Oslo Stock Exchange, we could extend the investor base even further.”

Shares of Kahoot shot up almost 12% in morning trading on news of SoftBank’s investment in the company. It now has a market value of 19.9 billion Norwegian krone — or roughly $2.2 billion.

A Global Asset Management Seoul Korea Magazine

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