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Pearson boss eyes NFT textbooks as next revenue stream

·2-min read
Pearson CEO Andy Bird said company could generate more money from each textbook it makes by getting a commission on second-hand sales. (REUTERS)
Pearson CEO Andy Bird said company could generate more money from each textbook it makes by getting a commission on second-hand sales. (REUTERS)

The boss of Pearson is eyeing NFT textbooks as a lucrative business opportunity as the company posted a boost in profits.

CEO Andy Bird said company could generate more money from each textbook it makes by getting a commission on second-hand sales.

“We have a whole team working on the implications of the metaverse,” Bird said.

“Technology like blockchain and the NFTs allows us to pass through every sale of that particular item as it goes through its life. The possibility to participate in downstream revenues…I find really interesting.”

A Pearson textbook is resold up to seven times over the course of its life, he said.

Bird’s remarks are the latest sign of education firms scoping out opportunities to earn cash amid growing hype around NFTs and the metaverse.

On Saturday, Hong Kong University announced it was creating the world’s first ‘metaverse campus’ with virtual reality lectures, while in February, South Korea’s Hoseo University said it would begin issuing NFT degree certificates to graduates.

It comes as the company posted sales of £1.8 billion in the first half of 2022, while operating profits of £160 million grew 26% on the previous year, led by a jump in English language learning sales thanks to the reopening of borders after Covid travel restrictions eased. The London-based firm said “improving global mobility” led to a 22% growth in English language online packages.

Pearson said it planned to reduce costs by £100 million in 2023 as part of continued restructuring efforts, including a cut in “people costs” though Bird would not confirm how many redundancies the savings could entail.

“We have a natural attrition rate so a lot of that attrition happens in the normal course of business,” Bird said.

Underlying operating profits rose 26% to £160 million in the first half of the year.

Pearson shares rose 7% in early trading. The stock is up 35% since the start of the year after the company rejected three separate takeover offers from US private equity business Apollo.

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