News Corp., Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate, has purchased 90 percent of New York-based ed-tech company Wireless Generation for $360 million, according to multiple media reports. The move comes less than two weeks after another Murdoch foray into the education world: the announcement that outgoing New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein will go to work for News Corp. as an executive vice president.
Wireless Generation will operate as an independent subsidiary managed by the company's current executives, including founder and Chief Executive Officer Larry Berger. Berger also serves on the board of trustees of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit corporation that publishes Education Week.
News reports say Berger, along with President and Chief Operating Officer Josh Reibel and Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer Laurence Holt, will retain 10 percent of the rights to the company, which offers ed-tech software, systems, and services to 200,000 educators and more than 3 million students, according to its website.
"When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching," said Murdoch, the chairman and CEO of News Corp., which includes The Wall Street Journal and Fox Broadcasting Co. among its holdings.
The Wireless Generation move, along with the hiring of Klein, appears to signal the emergence of a new player in the education market, particularly in educational technology. Shortly after being hired by News Corp., Klein told reporters his job would be to help to help his new company drive private investment in technologies he believed would "change the way K-12 education is delivered."