Top Hat, a learning courseware platform for higher education, has raised US$130 million in a Series E fundraise from existing investor Georgian.

In the past year Toronto-based Top Hat has raised $55 million in Series D capital, completing three acquisitions of traditional higher ed publishing companies, and grown revenue by 40%.

The company stated it will use the funding to fast-track partnership and acquisition activities with traditional publishers.

Justin LaFayette, lead investor at Georgian said: “In 2020, tech-first teaching platforms shifted from a tool that enhances learning, to a tool that is necessary to learn. From supporting remote learning to the iteration of the platform, Top Hat has their customer at the forefront of every decision. Top Hat is helping the education industry adapt and we are thrilled to be partnered on this next phase in their journey.”

Top Hat chief executive Mike Silagadze, who co-founded the company in his dorm room at the University of Waterloo and now employs 400-plus staff, is also handing over day-to-day leadership to incoming chief executive Joe Rohrlich.

Rohrlich has experience in the software-as-a-service industry and most recently worked for technology company Bazaarvoice.

Silagadze said: “Higher education is at a pivotal inflection point brought on by growing scepticism about the value of a degree, a situation drastically accelerated by the pandemic. Top Hat’s latest round of funding enables us to accelerate our transformation of the higher ed learning experience to deliver greater educational value to learners. I am confident that under the leadership of incoming CEO Joe Rohrlich, Top Hat will successfully lead the movement to redefine the higher ed value equation and better support learners to succeed inside and outside the classroom.”

Rohrlich added: “Now is the time for us to reimagine the learner experience to enable engaging and active learning that delivers real educational value for students. Getting this right will be critical to the future of higher education. With the confidence of our investors, customers, and employees, we will build on our strong market position to reimagine a higher ed learning experience that is more engaging, active, accessible, and experiential, to drive true educational value for learners.”

Last year, Top Hat acquired Nelson’s Canadian higher ed business, Bluedoor, and Fountainhead Press.

Date published: 9 February 2021

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