November 21, 2015 / 1:17 AM / 2 years ago

Laurene Powell Jobs backs Amplify education company bought from News Corp

(Reuters) - Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple Inc (AAPL.O) co-founder Steve Jobs, is the lead investor who funded the buyout of News Corp’s (NWSA.O) money losing digital education business Amplify earlier this year.

Laurene Powell Jobs, founder and chair of Emerson Collective and widow of the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, along with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (R) and Rupert Murdoch (L), chairman and CEO of News Corporation, takes part in a panel discussion titled "Immigration Strategy for the Borderless Economy" at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

A representative for Powell Jobs’ organization, the Emerson Collective, confirmed the investment in Amplify but would not specify how much of the company Powell Jobs would own or the amount paid for it.

The company’s top management, including its new Chief Executive Larry Berger, picked up a minority position in the Brooklyn-based company as part of the deal.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp said Sept. 30 that it had sold Amplify to a management team backed by a group of private investors for an undisclosed sum. The identity of the investors was not revealed at the time.

Murdoch, News Corp’s chairman, has been an outspoken critic of weaknesses at U.S. public schools. News Corp poured hundreds of millions of dollars building the educational technology unit.

As part of News Corp, Amplify introduced a digital curriculum program for middle school students in 2014. It also rolled out a tablet device to school districts, an effort that was later shut down.

In August, News Corp took a charge of $371 million related to the business. More than 500 employees lost their jobs after the sale. Former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, who helped plan the buyout and was the previous CEO, will have a board seat.

Powell Jobs is the president and founder of the Emerson Collective, which focuses on making investments in education, immigration reform and social issues, its website says. She is also chairwoman of College Track, an educational after-school program that helps prepare lower income students for college which she co-founded in 1995. In September, she started a $50 million campaign for innovation in high schools.

She was tied for 23rd on Forbes’ list of the richest Americans with a net worth of $19.1 billion last year.

The Emerson Collective said in a statement that it shares a belief with Amplify that technology and innovation can transform classrooms and looks forward to the company growing and expanding its services.

News Corp purchased Wireless Generation, a New York-based educational analytics and assessment firm that became the foundation of the Amplify unit for $390 million in 2010.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York; editing by Grant McCool

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