We’ve wrapped up a difficult year. The COVID-19 pandemic hit everyone hard, personally and professionally, and while overall spending in the training market was down, the industry was still active with mergers, acquisitions and investments. Here are the deals we spotted in the final quarter of 2020.

Assessment and Evaluation

Among companies that provide solutions to measure employee skills and performance:

    • Workforce Insight agreed to acquire Hive Tech HR. The companies’ solutions include workforce management and human capital management (HCM) advisory, analytics and implementation services.
    • Findem emerged from stealth mode, launched its people intelligence platform and closed a $7.3 million Series A funding round led by Wing Venture Capital. The platform enables organizations to use a data-driven approach to talent acquisition and management.
    • Turnitin, a provider of assessment and integrity solutions, acquired ExamSoft, an assessment software platform for educational institutions and certification and licensure programs.
    • Workera, which enables organizations to evaluate technical and non-technical data and artificial intelligence (AI) skills, announced $5 million in seed funding led by Owl Ventures and AI Fund.
    • Gryphon Investors became the majority investor in Meazure Learning, an exam delivery and online proctoring provider for academic and professional customers. Eastside Partners and Meazure Learning’s management team also retained a significant ownership stake in the business. Meazure Learning was formed last Jan. through the merger of ProctorU and Yardstick Assessment Strategies.

Compliance Training

In a year of lowered learning and development spending, the health and safety training market saw growth last year, with more customers needing such training to make workplaces safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and more health care organizations needing to quickly upskill their staff. Likewise, we saw continued activity in funding and acquisitions in this market segment:

    • The Health & Safety Institute (HSI), an environmental, health and safety (EHS) software, training and compliance solutions provider, acquired SOS Intl LLC, an energy utilities training and compliance company, and Vado, which has a catalog of online courses on business and compliance topics.
    • ACTO, an education and engagement platform for the life sciences industry, acquired CoHealth, whose mobile app delivers resources to both patients and caregivers. This acquisition created a new offering, direct-to-patient education solutions, for ACTO.
    • K12 Inc., an online and blended learning provider, rebranded as Stride while announcing its acquisitions of Tech Elevator, a coding bootcamp provider, and MedCerts, which provides online and hands-on training in health care and medical fields.

Cybersecurity training was also an area of high need in 2020, as the risk of breaches and cybercrime rose with so many employees working in remote and potentially unsecured locations. To that end, we saw a few deals for cybersecurity training companies:

    • Sunset Learning Institute (SLI), a corporate and public sector IT training provider, announced its second acquisition of 2020: GigaWave Technologies, a wireless networking and cybersecurity training company.
    • Theta Lake, Inc., which provides collaboration security and compliance solutions that include compliance training, announced $12.7 million in Series A funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners.
    • Liquidity Capital closed a $10 million finding agreement with cybersecurity services and training company HackerU.
    • Raven Advisory LLC, whose consulting and training solutions include offerings in risk management and cybersecurity, acquired Gryphon Group LLC, a provider of military, law enforcement and corporate security training programs.

Deals in other areas of compliance training included:

    • KnowFully, whose offerings include continuing professional education, exam preparation courses and digital learning solutions for the accounting, finance and health care industries, acquired The Income Tax School, which offers training programs, continuing education courses and certificate programs for tax preparation professionals.
    • NEOGOV, a public sector human resources (HR) software company, acquired PowerDMS, a compliance software company. NEOGOV’s solution includes recruiting, onboarding, training, performance management and other processes.
    • Private equity firm Liberty Hall Capital Partners acquired Comply365 Holdings, whose content and compliance management solutions are aimed at the aerospace and rail industries.

IT and Technical Training

IT and technical training, always a busy market in an increasingly digital world, saw two deals last quarter:

Customer Education

In their 2020 learning and development (L&D) trends report, Ken Taylor, CPTM, president and editor-in-chief of Training Industry, and Michelle Eggleston Schwartz, CPTM, editorial director of Training Industry, wrote that “companies are increasing their investment in customer education.” Along those lines, we saw two deals in the customer education market last quarter:


In 2020, self-paced online learning became more important — and more popular — than ever, with companies increasing their investment in remote learning capabilities and employed and non-employed learners alike looking for ways to upskill and reskill professionally and personally. We saw several deals in this market in the last quarter of the year:

Remote Learning and Remote Work

“Remote learning” is both a frequently used 2020 phrase and an important sector of the L&D market. Among companies that support remote learning and remote work, we saw the following deals:

Learning Technologies

In a similar vein, there is always a lot of activity in the segment of the training market that offers technologies to administer, manage and deliver training. Here are the deals we saw last quarter:

Performance Management and Human Capital Management

In the market aimed at helping organizations manage their talent, we saw several deals last quarter:

    • TransparentBusiness opened an investment round at a valuation of $1 billion ($1 per share) for its remote team management platform.
    • Achievers, an “employee voice and recognition solutions” provider, acquired TemboSocial, an employee feedback and recognition company.
    • Eightfold announced a $125 million Series D funding round led by General Catalyst, a deal valuing the company at $1 billion. Eightfold’s AI-based “talent intelligence platform” is aimed at talent retention and recruitment, upskilling and reskilling, and diversity.
    • Hibob raised $70 million in Series B funding led by SEEK and Israel Growth Partners for its people management platform, bob.
    • Performance management software company Teaming released its platform from beta and raised $1.7 million from angel investors.
    • Multitudes, an SaaS startup focused on improving team culture and performance, raised $1.7 million, led by Blackbird Ventures, to build its beta product.

Leadership Training and Development

In normal years, leadership training is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the training market. While buyers spent less on products and services in this sector last year, the market still saw quite a few deals, including these deals in the fourth quarter:

    • Luminary, a “global collaboration hub for professional women,” acquired Declare, a leadership development platform for women (still, research shows, an underserved market when it comes to leadership training).
    • Leading Women, a consulting firm aimed at gender balance in business, merged with Leading NOW, an inclusive leadership development company.
    • Consulting firm Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. acquired Effectus Consulting Pty Ltd., an Australian employee and leadership development company offering HR and talent development strategy, talent diagnostics, culture and engagement surveys, mediation and performance management, and executive coaching solutions. The firm announced a second acquisition later in the quarter: Optimum Talent Inc., a talent management and HR consulting company offering search solutions, leadership assessment and development, and career transition and outplacement services.
    • BUNCH, an AI-based leadership coaching and microlearning platform, announced $3.4 million in seed funding led by M13.
    • CoachHub, another AI-based coaching platform, announced a $30 million funding round led by Draper Espirit.

Sales Training and Enablement

As many sales teams pivoted to remote selling, sales training and enablement became more important than ever. This segment of the market saw several deals in the fourth quarter:

Other Deals

Additional deals last quarter included:

    • Salesforce Ventures, Salesforce’s investment arm, announced its second impact fund, a $100 million fund to address education and reskilling; climate action; diversity, equity and inclusion; and technology for nonprofits and foundations. Businesses receiving investments include education benefits company Guild and talent analytics company Pymetrics.
    • TiER1 Impact, which invests in professional services companies, acquired rapidLD, a learning and talent management consulting company focused on the deployment and administration of LMSs and talent management systems and strategy and content development aimed at upskilling employees.
    • Dude Solutions sold Advanced Skills Management Industrial (ASMi), its workforce skills management platform to ALPHA Facilities Solutions, a facility asset management services company.

What are your thoughts on the training market in 2020? What predictions do you have for this year? Let us know!