Education technology company EverFi signs 13-year lease in D.C.
By Aaron Gregg,
EverFi, a D.C.-based tech start-up that sells online education courses, has set up a new headquarters in Washington, with a 13-year lease that effectively commits it to staying in the District for the foreseeable future.
The company, which is in Georgetown, will move into a 58,000-square-foot space in the West End neighborhood, officials said Friday. It was helped along by a $3 million tax incentive organized by the deputy mayor for planning and economic development.
EverFi founder and chief executive Tom Davidson described the move as an effort to double down on the Washington area’s technology scene, which is home to few large tech companies. EverFi had been scouting potential locations in Maryland and Virginia before ultimately deciding to stay in the city.
“This is going to keep EverFi here in D.C., where it was born, for another 13 years,” Davidson said. “There’s been everything from great support to great karma in D.C., and we really felt like we wanted to stay here.”
EverFi’s investors, and the sheer amount of funding it has taken in, have already put it in a league of its own among the city’s tech start-ups, which tend to raise less capital than their West Coast counterparts.
At $250 million in funding from venture capitalists, it is easily the District’s best-funded tech start-up. Investors include Jeffrey P. Bezos, Eric Schmidt, Steve Case and Bono, among others. Much of its recent funding came from TPG Capital, a private equity fund focused on social impacts, and the Rise Fund, a fund started by AOL founder Case to stimulate technology businesses outside of Silicon Valley. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
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The company used that funding to buy two other online education companies and go on a hiring spree, increasing its head count from about 220 people to about 480 over the past 18 months. It now has a sizable presence in San Francisco, as well. Davidson also said revenue has jumped by 40 percent in 18 months, though he declined to disclose exact figures.
Many of those new hires are product developers working on taking the company’s instructional videos toward a “mobile-first” approach.
EverFi has become a leader in a burgeoning D.C.-area education technology industry. In Lanham, Md., online education firm 2U employs more than 1,500 people and recently pushed into international markets by acquiring a South Africa-based start-up. Blackboard became dominant in organizing college coursework before expanding into the health-care sector.
EverFi’s executives focus on online education modules targeting “intractable social issues” such as alcohol abuse, financial literacy and — more recently — workplace conduct courses designed to prevent sexual harassment in the office. Universities and businesses seeking to push people to be more healthful — or comply with regulations — pay for EverFi’s courses by subscription.
Davidson says more businesses have been requiring workplace conduct training, something that has coincided with increased public attention on sexual harassment. “You’re just starting to see businesses have a greater awareness of including this as required training for employees and boards,” Davidson said. “It’s a classic area that EverFi would try to engage in.”
But he says demand for the company’s products related to opioid abuse — which guide people on how to avoid becoming addicted to certain prescription drugs — has skyrocketed as schools and business have recognized the problem.
“We’ve found this is something that’s crept into every corner of the country,” Davidson said. “We think every school in the country is going to have a prevention program, and we want to be involved in that. We’re putting a lot of resources behind it.”