Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's education tech company Clockwork Fox Studios bought by American firm

When Clockwork Fox Studios went looking for a partner to help them distribute their math education app in the United States, they weren’t looking to sell the company.

Company's Canadian head office will remain in St. John's

Ed Martin, CEO of Clockwork Fox Studios, will become CEO of Carnegie Learning's Canadian arm after the sale of his company. (CBC)

When St. John's tech startup Clockwork Fox Studios, went looking for a partner to help them distribute their math education app in the United States, they weren't looking to sell the company.

But that's what happened, as the company, which makes educational game Zorbit's Math Adventure, has now been acquired by Carnegie Learning in Philadelphia.

The sale was finalized April 19, but the company's CEO, Ed Martin, won't say publicly how much the deal is worth.

Zorbit's Math Adventure is a game that teaches math to children in kindergarten to Grade 3 through play-based learning, and includes tools and resources for teachers.

"We were doing really well in Canada and we wanted to accelerate our way to the U.S. and we thought finding a like-minded company who already had a footprint in the U.S. was the best way to do that," said Martin.

WATCH | Clockwork Fox Studios, formally Best Boy Entertainment, launches Zorbit's Math Adventure at a news conference in 2013. 

New math app

9 years ago
Duration 3:56
Best Boy's Ed Martin and Minister Keith Hutchings launch a new math app for children called Zorbit

He said the two companies are such a good fit for one another that it persuaded him to sell. 

"They had a digital product for [Grade] 6-12 math. We are K-3, building [grades] 4, 5 and 6," Martin said.

"They had a really good footprint in the U.S. and wanted to get into Canada. We were the other way around."

Martin said their offices on Harvey Road will become Carnegie Learning's Canadian headquarters and their first international office. He said he will become CEO of the company's Canadian office, and all 34 employees will remain.

More global attention for N.L. tech industry

The sale of Clockwork Fox Studios comes just a few months after fellow St. John's-based tech firm Verafin was acquired by Nasdaq in a $2.75-billion US deal.

TechNL CEO Paul Preston says it speaks to the talent and support for tech startups in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"It's certainly bringing global attention to what's been going on here for a while," he said. "There's something unique taking place in our ecosystem."

Paul Preston, CEO of TechNL, says people are realizing that they can start and build technology companies in the province and have great careers. (CBC)

Preston said people are beginning to realize they can start and build companies in the province and he believes more sales and growth are on the horizon as the sector diversifies.

"I frankly think we're going to see 10 to 15 $100-million companies. I would love to see that here," he said. 

"I think we're going to see a lot of our existing companies scale and have the ability to really impact global markets. Some of those will be purchased. Some of those will stay here and operate as independent organizations."

Preston said there will be about 2,000 jobs in the tech sector in the next four years in various occupations, from software development, data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning to business analysis and marketing and sales.

In the meantime, Martin said his company is going to continue developing a new game, called Mathstoria, for children in grades 4 to 6 and translating their products into French.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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