The Learning Company

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The Learning Company
Type Subsidiary
Founded 1980
Headquarters Boston, Massachussetts, United States
Parent Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The Learning Company (TLC) is an American educational software company. It produced a grade-based system of learning software and tools to improve productivity. The products for preschoolers through second graders feature Reader Rabbit, and software for more advanced students features The ClueFinders.

Founding and ownership[edit]

The Learning Company was formed originally from the merger of WordStar, Spinnaker and SoftKey Software in a three-way merger in 1994 and was relocated from San Francisco and Toronto to Cambridge, MA. Prior to that SoftKey was a Canadian Company that was founded by Kevin O'Leary and traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. During the years following the three-way merger, the combined company was led by Michael J. Perik as CEO, Kevin O'Leary as President and R Scott Murray as CFO. The trio of former Canadians together set the course for the next generation in the consumer software industry by making educational software affordable to the average parent and student. The trio led the combination of many leading brands through acquisitions of such companies as Broderbund, MECC, The Learning Company, MindScape and Creative Wonders to name just a few. The company held some of the best known educational and office productive brands in the market. These included Reader Rabbit, Oregon Trail, Myst, Riven, Printshop, PrintMaster, Compton's Encyclopedia, Sesame Street, American Girl to name just a few. In addition to Perik, O'Leary and Murray the company was led in sales and international operations by David Patrick and Anthony Bordon. Both of whom are now pioneers in the digital media and social media applications industry.

The team led the sale of software in well known retail chains such as BestBuy, Office Depot, Staples and WalMart, in direct mail channels, across Europe and in the OEM channels as well as creating one of the first on-line imaging models in the market. In 1995, the Tribune Company invested $150 million into the company to complete the acquisition of The Learning Company in December 1995 for approximately $600 million in cash, along with the acquisitor of MECC for $400 million in stock issuance. In 1996, SoftKey changed its name to "The Learning Company" and moved its public stock listing from the NASDAQ to the NYSE. In 1997, The Company completed an investment of $150 million led by Bain Capital and TH Lee Capital. In addition, Lamar Alexander joined its board of Directors. Mr. Alexander was a Former Secretary of Education in the George H.W. Bush Administration and a candidate for President of the United States. He is now a Senior Senator representing the State of Tennessee in the United States Congress.

In the fall of 1998, Mattel agreed to acquire The Learning Company in a stock-for-stock merger valuing the company at approximately $4.2 billion. Following the closing of merger in May 1999 of the company with Mattel, the trio of Perik, O'Leary and Murray departed the company shortly thereafter to begin leading other enterprises. Kevin O'Leary became a well known financial television commentator in Canada, a panelist on the reality show Dragons Den in Canada and a panelist on the hit television show on ABC called "Shark Tank". He also founded O'Leary Funds and raised over $1 billion AUM in Canada as well as founding O'Leary Wines. Scott Murray became a highly successful CEO and went on to lead companies such as Stream Global Services, Modus Media International and 3Com Corporation. He also founded Global BPO Services and raised $250 million in an IPO.


Logo of the Learning Company used from the mid-1990s until 2007.

Reader Rabbit/The ClueFinders series[edit]


Super Solvers series[edit]

Super Seekers games[edit]

Carmen Sandiego series[edit]

Other games[edit]

  • Tools and other programs
    • All-Star Typing
    • Read, Write, and Type
    • MetroGnomes' Music
    • The Children's Writing & Publishing Center
    • The Writing Center
    • Student Writing Center
  • Other early educational programs
    • Magic Spells
    • Bumble Games
    • Bumble Plot
    • Moptown Hotel
    • Moptown Parade
    • Wordspinner
    • Juggles' Rainbow
    • Juggles' House
  • Starflyers series
    • Starflyers: Royal Jewel Rescue
    • Starflyers: Alien Space Chase


External links[edit]