Jason Palmer, Former Deputy Director At The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Joins New Markets Venture Partners As Team Completes Initial $30 Million Close On New Education Fund

jason-palmer-squareNew Markets Venture Partners, a thirteen-year old venture capital firm focused on investing in high impact education companies, today announced the addition of Jason Palmer, former Deputy Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as a General Partner. Just this week, the firm closed initial funding of $30 million in its second education fund with participation from every institutional limited partner in its first education fund, which invested in edtech standouts like Starfish Retention Solutions (acquired by Hobsons) and Moodlerooms (acquired by Blackboard).

“Jason’s background is truly unique among investors in the space today, given his experience as an entrepreneur, executive and grantmaker,” said Mark Grovic, Co-founder and General Partner.  “He understands that social impact and economic returns are inextricably linked, and pairs a deep commitment to the education sector with a proven track record of identifying transformative technologies that can drive education innovation.  In addition, Jason really connects with entrepreneurs who are pioneering innovative solutions to big education problems, which fits perfectly with New Markets’ culture.”

At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Palmer led the Postsecondary Discovery team, investing in early-stage, evidence-based strategies designed to improve the outcomes for low-income, minority and first-generation college students.  During Palmer’s nearly three years as Deputy Director, the Gates Foundation higher education team invested more than $200 million into the nation’s leading colleges, universities and entrepreneurs pursuing institutional transformation, digital and adaptive learning, integrated planning and advising, predictive analytics, financial aid, competency-based learning, credit transfer, marketable credentials and employer pathways.

“Mark and Robb each have twenty year track records as successful double-bottom line investors,” said Jason Palmer. “Their portfolio serves more than 16 million students in the U.S., and these are mission-driven organizations focused on improving student outcomes and delivering competitive returns for investors.  I’m proud to be joining a team with deep knowledge of education technology and decades of experience.”

Prior to joining the Gates Foundation, Jason founded and grew three investor-backed technology companies before holding a series of executive positions at Microsoft, SchoolNet (acquired by Pearson), Kaplan and StraighterLine.  At Microsoft, Palmer served as product manager for the world’s first tablet-based learning platform. At SchoolNet, Palmer led the company’s business development team, negotiating and growing key partnerships with Scantron, Kaplan and Princeton Review.  At Kaplan, Jason led three education businesses as general manager or president, in addition to founding and leading the company’s venture capital effort.

Over the past few years, New Markets Venture Partners has invested in a number of leading education companies, including American Honors, Calvert Education, Civitas Learning, Credly, Graduation Alliance, Fishtree, Kickboard, Moodlerooms, Noodle Partners, Presence Learning, Questar Assessment, Regent Education, StraighterLine and Think Through Learning.  Palmer joins existing co-founders and General Partners Mark Grovic, Robb Doub, and Don Spero, Partner Elizabeth Chou, along with Senior Advisors Jim Shelton, Brit Kirwan, Josh Reibel, Russell Greiff and Ben Wallerstein.