News Corp. unveils Amplify education arm

Exec VP Joel Klein touts market growth through digital technology

Joel Klein, exec VP of News Corp. and former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, has unwrapped the conglom’s new education division, Amplify, which has been cloaked in mystery for several years.

News Cop. hired Klein in 2010, then acquired Wireless Generation, which provided a framework for the new business.

“The K-12 market is ready for a shakeup. Starting now, digital technology will forever change the way we education students,” Klein told investors at the UBS Media Conference on Tuesday.

It’s a timely undertaking, amid all the talk of a so-called achievement gap between U.S. students and those from other developed nations. It could also be lucrative.

Education is a $673 billion market, Klein said, “the second largest after health care.” Amplify’s addressable market now is $17 billion and will grow, he said.

News Corp.’s $360 million purchase of Wireless Generation was its first foray into education since HarperCollins sold its textbook business years ago. Amplify will be part of the publishing arm when News Corp. splits in two next year.

Wireless Generation has a successful 12-year track record when News Corp. bought it and Amplify has expanded the business into three prongs: Amplify Insight, focused on data and analytics; a specialized tablet; and a comprehensive K-12 curriculum in math, reading and science. The content can run on Amplify or through third-party devices.

The division will have losses of $180 million this year on investment in new products. Amplify Insight, the extension of Wireless Generations business, will have about $100 million revenue.