News Corp Shells Out $360 Million For EdTech Company Wireless Generation

Rupert Murdoch is getting serious about the education business. First, News Corp (NSDQ: NWS) hires New York City Education Chancellor Joel Klein. Now, it’s acquiring 90 percent of Wireless Generation for roughly $360 million in cash. The Brooklyn-based company provides education technology for teachers.

The company will operate as an independent subsidiary managed by Larry Berger, the founder and CEO; Josh Reibel, president and COO; and Laurence Holt, EVP & Chief Product Officer; the three will retain the remaining 10 percent. Founded in 2000, Wireless Generation has 400 employees and says it serves more than 200,000 teachers and 3 million students in all 50 states.

Why is News Corp buying it? Murdoch says it’s because education in the U.S. is a $500 billion sector “waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching” and Wireless Generation is at the “forefront” of individualized, tech-based learning.

Maybe Klein, who was hired to advise on “developing business strategies for the emerging educational marketplace,” among other topics, can articulate a little better about why News Corp has decided at this stage to make a bet on education — and how it means to go about it. Wireless Generation includes the New York City school system as a client. In addition to reporting to Murdoch as EVP, Office of the Chairman, Klein’s also joining the News Corp. board.

If this is like other Murdoch endeavors to break into a space, we’re due for more announcements. Perhaps he could combine the passions for digital text and education by buying textbook e-reader startup Kno.