Press Release

Jonathan A. Knee, Investment Banker and Author of Class Clowns, to Keynote 2017 Content in Context Conference

Using tales from the frontline Knee will outline what makes a good education business

Washington, DC; April 18, 2017 –In Class Clowns, author Jonathan Knee asks ‘what makes a good education business?’ At his keynote at this year’s Content in Context conference, on May 25 at 9 a.m., Knee will explore the business practices that help products and services for PreK-12 learners succeed or fail.

Produced by the Association of American Publishers PreK-12 Learning Group, the Content in Context (CIC) conference is taking place in Philadelphia May 24-26. CIC provides practical, actionable insights on content, marketing, and business strategy for learning companies. One-day passes are available. There will be a book signing of Class Clowns: How the Smartest Investors Lost Billions in Education (Columbia Business School Publishing, 2016) following the keynote.

“If you’re curious about the education ecosystem and how your product or service can make an impact, this is a keynote you won’t want to miss,” said Jay Diskey, Executive Director, PreK-12 Learning Group at the Association of American Publishers. “With experience as an investment banker funding these education deals and an educator using them, Knee has unparalleled insights as to why certain products and services do well in the tough PreK-12 market.”

In a presentation relevant for publishers, content providers, platform developers, designers, product developers, software developers, and game developers working within the education ecosystem, Knee will share tales from the frontline of the business of education.

Many in the education industry are eager to offer new products and services with the hopes of transforming the industry, and investors have backed their dreams with billions of dollars. In Class Clowns, Knee explores the private education market and how wealthy investors aiming to “do good” were not having the impact they hoped for. Within the book, Knee:

  • Discusses whether there is a danger when financial investment is mixed with nonfinancial objectives
  • Explains why add-on services are the “Trojan horse strategy” that can ultimately replace an incumbent product
  • Answers whether there is still room in the education market for disruptive technology

In addition to Class Clowns, he has also authored The Accidental Investment Banker: Inside the Decade that Transformed Wall Street (Oxford, 2006) and co-authored of Curse of the Mogul (Portfolio, 2009). His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Washington Post. USA Today’s Money Columnist Michael Wolff called Knee “the nation’s best business writer”.

Knee teaches Media Mergers and Acquisitions and co-teaches The Media Industries: Public Policy and Business Strategy with Professor Tim Wu of Columbia Law School. He also serves as co-director of the Media Program with Professor Sarvary. He is a Senior Advisor at Evercore Partners and has had senior roles at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Prior to becoming an investment banker, he was Director of International Affairs at United Airlines and served as Adjunct Professor of Law at Northwestern University.

About AAP

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) represents about four hundred member organizations including major commercial, digital learning and education and professional publishers alongside independents, non-profits, university presses and scholarly societies. We represent the industry’s priorities on policy, legislative and regulatory issues regionally, nationally and worldwide. These include the protection of intellectual property rights and worldwide copyright enforcement, digital and new technology issues, funding for education and libraries, tax and trade, censorship and literacy. Find us online at or on twitter at @AmericanPublish.