Belgium’s Mediahuis reportedly investing €40 million in online academic books platform Perlego

Belgian publisher Mediahuis is reportedly investing €40 million into the London-based 'Spotify for textbooks' platform Perlego, now valued at approximately €250 million.
Belgium’s Mediahuis reportedly investing €40 million in online academic books platform Perlego

In an interview with Belgian weekly Knack, Perlego co-founder and CEO Gauthier Van Malderen casually mentioned that the company had recently received new funding that included a €40 million investment from newspaper publishing and broadcast media firm Mediahuis, providing valuation of approximately €250 million.

While Mediahuis is denying the figure, the investment falls within the company’s venture arm thesis, edtech, and it’s worth noting that Thomas Leysen, who holds significant shares in, and is the chairman of, MediaHuis, has been on Perlego’s cap table since participating in a Series A round in November of 2019.

In 2020, the big business of textbooks generated $7.85 billion in revenues in the US alone. Having experienced the crushing financial reality of the cost of textbooks themselves, and witnessing firsthand the lengths that students will go to just to meet course requirements; the not-so-legal process of photocopying, or second, third, or even fourth-hand book purchases, Perlego co-founders Van Malderen and Matt Davis set out to build a better mousetrap.

Just as Spotify set out to achieve the unachievable in the music industry, shift its decades’ old practices to a new model, so too is Perlego attempting to do the same within the academic publications industry. Via a monthly or annual subscription plan, Perlego users have access to some 800,000 titles across 900+ different topics and subtopics from over 6,000 publishers. 

Like many edtech businesses, the pandemic spurred growth at Perlego at a blistering pace, with Van Maldren reporting to the Evening Standard that in the 12 months following March 2020, subscriber numbers skyrocketed 1222%. Demonstrating this strong growth, the company recently celebrated the addition of its 100th team member

Previous investors in Perlego include Dedicated VC, Zoopla and Cazoo founder Alex Chesterman, LoveFilm co-founder Simon Franks,  Charlie Songhurst, and Brent Hoberman and Henry Lane Fox’s Founders Factory.

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