Recently there has been a huge increase in the number of edtech startups. Some for profit, some not-for-profit--all claiming to be in the educational technology space for the right reasons. I have a deep respect for organizations like PBS and Khan Academy that are committed to creating educational resources without trying to turn a profit. On the other hand, I've seen how for profit companies can have a huge impact on teaching and learning. There is no way we'd be where we are today in K-12 educational technology without Google Apps for EDU.
That said, it is easy to separate the high profile examples but once you get into smaller companies, both profit and not-for-profit, it gets a lot murkier. Regardless of the funding models both are chasing dollars, sometimes even in the same places. Though their desired outputs may be very different, more often than not, it comes down to money and how to get it.
Here are the two recent articles on this topic that sparked this post:
Incentivizing Innovation in Education; or A Role For For Profits in Education
Profits, Lies, and Education Innovation
Full disclosure: I currently work directly in education and am the co-founder of an edtech startup.