Pasadena-based CodeSpark Inc., a digital education platform focused on STEM learning for young children, has agreed to be acquired by New York-based early education business Begin.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“In a strange way, Covid was positive for us. We grew quite a bit last year,” said Grant Hosford, co-founder and chief executive of CodeSpark. “How parents use supplemental education has changed. Parents realized even when things get back to normal, they want to make sure their kids have access to modern learning tools like they did during the pandemic.”

Hosford said CodeSpark had discussed a merger with Begin a few times in recent years, but talks heated up late last year.

“The timing was right,” Hosford said.

This is Begin’s second acquisition in the L.A. area. In September 2018, it acquired Seedling USA Inc., a downtown-based digital play company for children ages 2 to 12.

CodeSpark and Begin have received considerable attention from venture capital firms. CodeSpark has raised $5.6 million in seed funding, while Begin has collected a total of $100 million — including a $50 million deal in September.

CodeSpark’s visual coding language platform, called CodeSpark Academy, has a word-free, drag-and-drop interface that allows children to design and code their own video games and interactive stories.

CodeSpark Academy has been downloaded more than 20 million times and was used in more than 40% of all elementary schools in the United States last year, Hosford said.

The digital education industry has become highly competitive since the Covid-19 pandemic forced students to switch to online learning.

“What parents are looking for is well-vetted, one-stop shopping,” said Hosford, who added that the early education category is fragmented and ripe for consolidation.

With the merger, CodeSpark will expand its digital offerings for science, technology, engineering and mathematics for preschoolers to 10-year-olds.

Begin is best known for the early education apps Learn & Grow, which offers digital reading activities for kids ages 2 to 8, and Learn & Play, which introduce foundational skills in  games, stories and songs to children up to age 3. 

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