In the early days of COVID-19, schools were closing up shop as much as retailers. Education had to move online, and with many universities and high schools ill-equipped to transition to digital classes, the question of how education would fare under quarantine was up in the air.
The answer, for private companies at least, is “better than ever.” While schools are still figuring out how to help students without high-speed internet, supplemental education companies are having their best quarters ever. Share price, engagement, hiring, and users are through the roof — and the longer the pandemic goes on, the more they’ll benefit.
Few are enjoying that success more than Chegg ($CHGG), a textbook distributor that also runs a suite of studying apps. Chegg announced a 35 percent increase in revenue and subscribers year-over-year in its May 4 earnings and saw its share price rise 32% over the next few days before reaching a high of $66.66 on May 15.
Hiring is up for Chegg, which initially cut postings at the start of the pandemic but climbed back up to 71 percent of its pre-COVID rate.
Chegg's Linkedin headcount saw a steep increase in the spring, adding around 700 new faces since March 1. Chegg announced early on that it would hire 150 additional student advocates to help with the transition to at-home learning, as well.
Students still need textbooks and study tools even when taking exams in their pajamas, so a continued lack of campus resources means apps like Chegg’s are filling the void. Reviews for its 3 flagship applications, Chegg Study, Ereader, and Math, have increased by 18%, 21%, and 49% respectively. Chegg isn't the only education company booking better numbers these days.
TAL ($TAL), a Chinese company that offers mostly in-person tutoring, found itself in a tough spot when the Chinese government told schools to adopt digital-only learning due to COVID. It lacked the online infrastructure of a company like Chegg — only 18 percent of its revenue came from online learning, according to the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative.
But once the directive came, TAL almost immediately pivoted to online learning and quickly saw the benefits. TAL announced an 18% increase in revenues year-over-year, which it attributes to a 56.6 percent increase in enrollment from 2.96 million students to approximately 4.65 million, mostly in online courses.
Hiring soared during the pandemic to meet demand: Linkedin headcount increased by 18.7% since January and 43.7% year-over-year. Like Chegg, its share price increased by 24% since its earnings announcement on April 28 and reached a record high of $64.54 Wednesday.
While TAL expressed confidence in its numbers going forward, Chegg did not update its guidance for the second half of 2020, citing uncertainty around if and when schools will reopen in the fall. For now, they’ll just have to hope they’re as good at teaching students to depend on their services as they are at teaching them.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.