What a second quarter.

As the pandemic reached global proportions and entire workforces shut down, laid off large numbers or moved to remote operations, the training world continued to spin — albeit, perhaps more slowly than normal. Organizations scrambled to move training online, and providers worked to help them do so, through their existing offerings or brand-new ones.

A recent Harvard Business Review article by Mark Herndon of the M&A Leadership Council and John Bender of M&A Partners asked the question, “Is the coronavirus pandemic and corresponding economic downturn a time to halt acquisitions or pursue them?”, noting examples of both. The M&A Leadership Council surveyed 50 C-suite executives and corporate development leaders and found that:

    • About half report a “temporary pause” of current deal-making.
    • A little over one-quarter report that “their anticipated future deal volume for Q2-4 2020 is expected to be substantially reduced.”
    • About half of acquirers expect to stay “on temporary pause” until economic recovery is more certain.
    • Executives who are “still pursuing acquisitions … [are] moving quickly to exploit opportunistic M&A hotspots,” pointing to Verizon’s acquisition of BlueJeans Network as an example.

Meanwhile, data from Willis Towers Watson indicates that global M&A deals reached their lowest level in more than 10 years this quarter, driven largely by reduced activity in North America and the U.S. in particular.

What did mergers, acquisitions and other deals look like for the training industry this quarter? We still saw a high level of deal-making, perhaps reflecting the importance of training in times of crisis and the increased demand in technologies that support remote learning. Here’s a breakdown by market segment:

Assessment and Evaluation

Emtrain, described in the press release as “an online workplace culture platform that helps companies diagnose, benchmark and prevent bad workplace culture outcomes,” received $8 million in growth capital funding led by Education Growth Partners, a private equity firm focused on human development and workplace companies.

Traitify, a personality assessment software as a service (SaaS) platform, announced a $12 million funding round led by JMI Holdings, LLC.

Compliance Training

At a time when health, safety and risk management are more important than ever, the compliance training market saw a lot of activity:


eLearning, more important than ever for the many organizations whose employees are working from home to stay safe, also saw some deals this quarter:

IT and Technical Training

In information technology (IT) and technical training:

Leadership Training

There were only three deals this quarter in the largest segment of the training market, leadership development:

    • Hone, a manager training platform company, raised a $2.75 million seed extension round of funding from new investors Firework Ventures and NextGen Venture Partners and existing investors Cowboy Ventures, Harrison Metal, Slack Fund and Reach Capital. This round brought its total funding to $6.4 million.
    • Ignite, a leadership development company, merged with sr4 Partners, an organizational health consulting company.
    • Lead Inclusively, a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training app company provider, announced a $1.5 million funding round led by angel investors Christopher Craig and Fran Craig.

Learning Technologies

Always a popular segment for mergers, acquisitions and investments, learning technologies again saw a lot of activity this quarter:

Performance Management and Human Capital Management

In the segment of the market aimed at helping organizations manage their talent, there were four deals:

Sales Training and Enablement

The show must go on, and so must sales — and, therefore, sales training. In the sales training and sales enablement market segment:

Also this quarter, the previously announced mergers of Richardson and Sales Performance International and of Selleration and DigitalChalk came to fruition with new names: Richardson Sales Performance and Sciolytix, respectively.

Workforce Development

Finally, in workforce development:

On a different note, Skillsoft entered into a restructuring support agreement (RSA) with first and second lien lenders to reduce its debt from $2 billion to $410 million. As part of this process, the company and some of its affiliates filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It also received a commitment of $60 million in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing from some of its first lien lenders and reported that this financing, along with cash from its business, “is expected to provide ample liquidity to support the Company during the restructuring process,” according to the press release. Skillsoft expects to have liquidity of $50 million when it completes the restructuring process.

Here at Training Industry, we continue to monitor the market and provide updates at TrainingIndustry.com. Feel free to drop us a note at editor@trainingindustry.com to share your thoughts and predictions.