Dealflow | January 24, 2020

Education-focused Imaginable Futures is Omidyar Network’s latest spin-off

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, Jan. 24 – Omidyar Network is spinning off its education initiative into a standalone entity. Called Imaginable Futures, it will invest in for-profit and non-profit ventures addressing what it broadly calls the future of learning. 

Out of the gate, Imaginable Futures will boast a global portfolio of more than 100 for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations and $200 million of capital invested, reflecting Omidyar’s eight years of work in the education space. It will have an additional $150 million at its disposal to fund operations and investments over the next four years.

The new venture is the sixth initiative to be spun off from Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investment firm founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, as it sharpens its focus on two key areas: reimagining capitalism and beneficial technology. 

Last year, it carved out its financial inclusion work into an evergreen venture fund called Flourish Ventures. Other Omidyar spin-offs include Luminate, which continues the firm’s governance and citizen engagement work, and Spero, which houses its emerging technology initiative. 

“There is a recognition that each one of these initiatives has reached a size and specificity where having a unique platform made more sense,” explains Amy Klement, who led the education initiative within Omidyar and will serve as the new entity’s managing partner.  

Lifelong learning

Imaginable takes a broad approach to the field of learning. “Our aspiration is that all learners have the opportunity, tools and support they need to imagine and create a better future,” says Klement. “It’s not just about academic outcomes, it’s about new competencies and mindsets that lead to greater well being.”

Imaginable will use the hybrid model that Omidyar has pioneered to flexibly deploy its funds to the best effect. Imaginable Futures will have an LLC that can make investments in for-profit entrepreneurs, as well as a philanthropic grantmaking organization for nonprofits. It will also have the ability to make program- and mission-related investments via the foundation, said Klement. 

Investments made under the Omidyar umbrella include early childhood education-focused startups Wonderschool and All Our Kin; blended learning environments like SPARK Schools in South Africa and scalable literacy solutions like Árvore Educação in Brazil; and next-generation adult learning models such as ALX and Laboratoria.

Earlier this month, it invested in New York-based Edquity, which helps vulnerable students access cash assistance to pay for unexpected expenses that might otherwise cause them to drop out. 

Imaginable will concentrate its investments in the U.S., Africa and latin America, and will work through its local offices across the United States and in Sao Paulo, Nairobi, and London.