The Omidyar Network is going through changes. Since 2018, the investment and philanthropic vehicle started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam, has spun off five independent firms that grew out of its investment activities.
Today, the Omidyar Network does so again—this time for its education portfolio. And this new organization comes with its own name: Imaginable Futures.
Imaginable Futures will exist with its own board within the greater Omidyar Group, says Imaginable Futures managing partner Amy Klement, who previously led Omidyar’s education investment activities.
Since 2009, Omidyar Network has invested $200 million in 100 educational for-profit and nonprofit organizations, according to Klement. They include Andela, Khan Academy and Code.org. Not all of its bets have been home runs. AltSchool (which rebranded as Altitude Learning), has drastically scaled back its team and ambitions. Another, MissionU, was acquired by WeWork in a deal that disappointed investors.
Imaginable Futures assumes the existing Omidyar education portfolio and has $150 million for investments and operations over the next four years. The spin out is a positive signal for the greater education technology sector, Klement says. “We see massive opportunity, still, across the world.”
The new firm expects to invest in smaller research projects up to larger equity investments and grants. Omidyar's education wing has typically invested in Series A rounds with some seed stage and Series B investments.
In March 2018, Omidyar spun out its emerging technologies portfolio as Spero Ventures. It did so again nine months later with its governance and civic technology portfolio, now called Luminate. In 2019, Omidyar Network spun out its financial technology portfolio as Flourish Ventures, followed by a similar move with its India portfolio. Earlier this month, Omidyar spun out PlaceFund to focus on property rights, climate change and land use.
“This is the latest in a series of planned spin-outs of Omidyar Network initiatives, designed to enable our former initiatives to address global challenges as nimbly and decisively as possible, and for Omidyar Network to have the freedom to shift our focus more upstream to societal challenges at the systemic level,” Omidyar Network CEO Mike Kubzansky explained in a Jan. 15 online post about PlaceFund.
Imaginable Futures’ focus is similar to the former Omidyar education division. In the U.S., the fund will continue to support education-to-career pathways for parents, and quality early-learning tools and access to childcare programs. Omidyar Network’s investments in this area have included early learning for-profits like Wonderschool, education-to-career services like Handshake plus nonprofits like All Our Kin.
In Africa and Latin America, the fund will continue to invest in organizations that address career skills along with K-12 school models and technologies. In the future, Klement says she’d like to invest in more companies and organizations bringing social emotional learning to emerging markets.
Across all sectors, Omidyar Network has committed more than $1.64 billion in various sectors since its inception in 2004. For-profits have received $749 million of those dollars.