As we look toward what will hopefully be a brighter 2021, let’s take a look at the deals that took place in the training market in the first quarter of this new year:


In compliance training (including the never-more-important health and safety training market):


At a time when many people are still working remotely, eLearning companies saw a great deal of activity this quarter:

    • Omniplex announced an investment from private equity investor LDC.
    • MindEdge Learning, which provides digital academic and professional development content, acquired Acuity Institute, a provider of operational excellence training, coaching and consulting.
    • CrunchTime! Information Systems, an operations platform provider for the restaurant industry, acquired DiscoverLink, which provides eLearning solutions to the restaurant industry.
    • Lynk, a “Knowledge-as-a-Service platform,” announced a $24 million investment led by Brewer Lane Ventures and MassMutual Ventures.
    • ELSA, a mobile app for English language learners, announced $15 million in Series B funding led by Vietnam Investments Group and SIG.
    • Coursera announced the pricing of its initial public offering (IPO): 15,730,000 shares at $33 per share.
    • Quizizz, an online gamified learning platform for schools and businesses, announced $12.5 million in Series A funding led by Eight Roads Ventures.
    • Personalized learning company IXL Learning acquired online language education company Rosetta Stone.
    • Learning platform company Kahoot! started trading on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

Health Care

In the health care education sector:

IT and Technical Training

In the information technology (IT) and technical training sector:

Leadership Training

Several leadership development companies announced funding or acquisitions this quarter:

    • Cloud-based coaching platform Sounding Board announced an oversubscribed $13.1 million Series A funding round led by Canaan Partners.
    • Coaching platform BetterUp announced $125 million in Series D funding (for a valuation of $1.73 billion) led by ICONIQ Growth. Notably, BetterUp also announced this quarter that Prince Harry of England joined its team as chief impact officer.
    • Leadership training, coaching and mentoring company Torch announced a $25 million Series B funding round led by Obvious Ventures.
    • Accenture acquired Cirrus, a leadership and talent consultancy, which joined Accenture’s talent and organization/human potential practice. The company also acquired fable+, a consulting firm focused on using analytics to improve team performance.
    • Leadership development and management consulting firm Velocity Advisory Group acquired Leadership Pacing, a leadership coaching company.
    • CDR Assessment Group and CDR-U Coach merged into a new company, CDR Companies, LLC, providing coaching and assessment services. The company also announced three new individual investors, members of the Alexcel Group.

Learning Technologies

In one of the only segments of the training market to see spending increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw the following deals last quarter:

    • Learning Technologies Group (LTG) acquired PDT Global, a digital diversity and inclusion training and consulting company that’s now part of Affirmity, LTG’s compliance and diversity business. Last quarter, LTG also acquired Reflektive Inc., a performance management software provider, and Bridge, a learning, performance and skills development platform, from Instructure. As a result, Instructure is now focused on K-12 and higher education.
    • Praxis Labs, a diversity and inclusion training company that uses virtual reality (VR), announced $3.2 million in seed funding from SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund, Norwest Venture Partners, Emerson Collective, Ulu Ventures, Precursor Ventures, Firework VC and 20|20 Fund.
    • Kallidus, a talent management and digital learning software company, acquired Sapling, a platform for automating “people workflows.”
    • The Inception Company, creator of virtual meeting platform Pando, received an investment from Spire Capital.
    • Voxy EnGen, which uses a personalized learning platform to deliver English language training, announced $6.75 million in Series A funding from Rethink Education, The Social Entrepreneurs’ Fund, the University System of Maryland Momentum Fund, Juvo Ventures, and The American Family Institute for Corporate and Social Impact. (We took a closer look at this investment in Training Industry Magazine.)
    • Sana Labs, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to personalize learning, announced an $18 million Series A funding round led by EQT Ventures.
    • Mindmarker, which focuses on training reinforcement and retention, announced “an oversubscribed multi-million dollar round of funding.”
    • Xerox acquired CareAR, which uses augmented reality (AR) to provide expert assistance to customers, employees and field workers.
    • Learn To Win announced $4 million in seed funding led by Norwest Venture Partners and the launch of its mobile-first active learning platform.
    • Anthill AI, an adaptive talent management software company, announced its first funding round, $1.24 million led by Origin Ventures.
    • GSV Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on education technology, announced the close of its second fund, GSV Ventures Fund II, totaling $180 million. Current investments include Coursera, Degreed and Guild Education.
    • ai, a “talent intelligence platform,” announced $9 million in Series A funding led by Square Peg.
    • Arist, which uses text messaging to deliver courses, announced the expansion of its seed funding round, led by Global Founders Capital, to $3.9 million.
    • Centrical (formerly GamEffective), whose platform offers gamification, microlearning, performance management, coaching and well-being, announced $32 million in funding led by Intel Capital and JVP.
    • Axonify, provider of a training platform for frontline employees, acquired MLevel, a digital learning platform provider.
    • eLearning Brothers received an investment from RLG Capital and Trinity Private Equity Group for its acquisition of The Game Agency, a provider of game-based learning technology and content.
    • Spekit, a digital adoption, enablement and learning management system (LMS) company, announced $12.2 million in Series A funding led by Foundry Group and Renegade Partners.
    • Knowledge management company Zoomin Software announced $52 million in Series C funding led by General Atlantic.

Onboarding, Performance Management and Human Capital Management

Among companies focused on helping organizations onboard and manage talent and performance, the following deals occurred last quarter:

    • Humaans, an onboarding and management platform, raised $5 million in seed funding led by Y Combinator, Moonfire, Frontline Ventures and Lachy Groom (former head of Stripe Issuing).
    • Tandem Family of Companies, a human resources (HR) technology and solutions provider, received an investment from Shore Capital Partners.
    • Capital Associated Industries and The Employers Association merged to create Catapult, a membership association focused on human resources in North Carolina.
    • HR software company Darwinbox announced a $15 million Series C funding round led by Salesforce Ventures.
    • Personio, an HR platform for small and medium-sized businesses, announced $125 million in Series D funding led by Index Ventures, an investment that valued the business at $1.7 billion.
    • Workday, a finance and HR cloud application company, announced an agreement to acquire Peakon ApS, “an employee success platform that converts feedback into actionable insights.”
    • Raydiant, a digital experience platform company, acquired Hoopla, a performance management and motivation platform provider.
    • HR consultancy and technology company Enspira announced an investment from Mission8. The two companies will work together on a new business unit, Enspira Technology Solutions.
    • Performance management and employee development platform Lattice announced a $60 million funding round led by Tiger Global, which valued the company at $1 billion.

Remote Learning

When it comes to enabling remote learning and work, the market has been busy:

    • ON24, whose platform supports webinars, virtual events and “multimedia content experiences,” announced the launch of its IPO, 6,315,789 shares at between $45 and $50 per share.
    • Esme Learning Solutions, which partners with universities to offer online courses, announced $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Adit Ventures.
    • Touchcast, a “virtual experience company” using artificial intelligence and mixed reality, received an investment from Accenture Ventures.
    • Virtual events and training platform Hopin announced a $400 million Series C funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz and General Catalyst, a deal that valued Hopin at $5.65 billion.
    • Section4, which offers online business education courses from university professors, announced $30 million in Series A funding led by General Catalyst.
    • Team collaboration and screen-sharing startup CoScreen announced seed funding of $4.6 million led by Unusual Ventures.
    • Cloud-based videoconferencing platform KUDO announced $21 million in Series A funding led by Felicis Ventures.

Sales Training and Enablement

There were a few deals in the sales training and enablement segment of the market:

    • Sales enablement platform SalesLoft announced $100 million in funding led by Owl Rock Capital, valuing the company at $1.1 billion.
    • Scratchpad, a “workspace for revenue teams,” announced a $13 million Series A funding round led by Craft Ventures.
    • Sales enablement platform Highspot announced a $200 million Series E funding round led by Tiger Global Management, a round that valued Highspot at $2.3 billion.

Workforce Development

Finally, among companies aimed at closing skills gaps and developing the workforce:

    • Edify Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company focused on education, education technology, workforce development and human capital management, announced the pricing of its IPO: 24 million units at $10 per unit.
    • PAIRIN, which helps organizations deliver career guidance, skills development and community services, announced a $4.36 million Series A funding round led by investors including New Markets Venture Partners, Juvo Ventures, JFFLabs, Village Capital, Voqal and Potencia Ventures.
    • UniFocus, whose offerings for the hospitality industry include workforce management and training software, announced an investment from The Riverside Company.
    • Penn Foster announced an investment from BayPine and Two Sigma Impact for its digital learning platform focused on upskilling “historically untapped talent” for frontline jobs. Later in the quarter, Penn Foster announced its acquisition of Sokanu, whose CareerExplorer platform helps people “match to and evaluate career paths.”
    • Interplay Learning, which provides online 3D simulation and VR training for the HVAC, plumbing, electrical, solar, multi-family maintenance and facilities maintenance workforces, announced $18 million in Series B funding led by Owl Ventures and S3 Ventures.

What trends do you anticipate for the second quarter of 2021? Let us know at