Fall is here, children are going back to school, and it’s a good time to take a look at some of the deals in the corporate training market in the third quarter of the year. From health and safety and the increasingly popular on-the-job training to coding bootcamps and artificial intelligence, the deals made this quarter reflect some key trends in learning and development.

Compliance: Not Just For HR

This quarter, Training Industry, Inc. released its first annual list of Top 20 Health and Safety Training Companies, recognizing the importance this sector plays in the training industry. Around the same time, there were multiple acquisitions and investments in companies working in compliance training.


In environmental, health and safety (EHS) training, Instruis Publishing Company, which provides a learning management system (LMS) for food safety training, was acquired by its co-founder and new CEO, Tara Paster. Two cloud-based EHS software companies were acquired: EtQ by equity firm TCV and VelocityEHS by CVC Growth Fund. Cadmus Group, a technical and strategic consultancy in the areas of energy, the environment, high-performance building, sustainability, public health and strategic communications, closed an investment deal with Enlightenment Capital.

In other compliance training news, Comply365, a mobile-first compliance content and training solution for airline employees, received a strategic growth investment from Luminate Capital Partners. Webroot acquired Securecast and launched Webroot Security Awareness Training to help managed service providers and businesses provide end-user cybersecurity training, and Cybrary, an online cybersecurity learning and testing platform, closed a $3.5 million Series A funding round.

Health care education also saw several deals. MTS Health Investors completed its investment in Accuity Delivery Systems, HMP acquired Imedex, Francisco Partners sold Therapeutic Research Center to Levine Leichtman and Praetorian Digital acquired EVALS. Voxmedia, a continuing medical education provider, expanded into a new industry with its acquisition of ManageAssist, a provider of training and professional services for the manufacturing, warehousing and distribution sectors. Happify Health, which focuses on behavior change and emotional wellness services for individuals, employers and health plans, raised $9 million.

Continuing and Professional Education

For organizations looking to source professional development programs, there are a few acquisitions to note this quarter. Palamon Capital Partners acquired Business School24, the education unit of an Italian business newspaper; Lee Hecht Harrison acquired Career Resources Group; and Berrett-Koehler Publishers acquired Management Concepts Press, leaving Management Concepts to concentrate on professional development for public organizations. ProBility completed its acquisition of Cranbury International, which sells training and educational materials, and Learnerbly raised £1.6 million (about $2.1 million) for its curated professional development platform.

In leadership training, Franklin Covey acquired Jhana, a provider of microlearning content for managers, and ExecOnline closed a $16 million Series B funding round for its online leadership development programs, developed with business schools around the world. PeopleGrove, a software platform that connects students and professionals with advisors, coaches and mentors, raised $1.8 million in seed funding.

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a hot topic in every industry, and training is no exception. Several deals this quarter involved companies that use machine learning. In sales training and enablement, Gong.io closed a $20 million Series A1 funding round for its platform that uses machine learning to analyze data from sales calls and conferences, and Guru closed a $9.3 million Series A funding round for machine learning-based content delivery.

WalkMe, which tracks user activity on business applications and uses data to prompt users when they have a problem using the system, closed a $75 million Series E funding round. elium, a collaboration platform for knowledge-based organizations, closed a €4 million (about $4.6 million) Series A funding round. It uses AI to complement productivity platforms like Slack and Facebook Workplace.

Focusing on the Customer Experience

Organizations are becoming more focused on providing an exceptional customer experience at all touchpoints. Two acquisitions from this quarter reflect that focus. Imparta fully integrated customer service training provider The Procter Consultancy, which it acquired several years ago. Accenture acquired Brand Learning, a consultancy focused on customer-centered marketing and sales capabilities.

On-the-Job Learning

We know from the 70:20:10 model that the majority of employee learning happens on the job. Two deals this quarter aim at making that learning easier. Grovo, a microlearning platform for on-the-job learning, closed an $11.3 million Series D funding round. Guild, a tuition assistance platform, closed a $21 million Series B funding round. Guild’s goal is to support employee education by enabling them to earn college credit for on-the-job training.

Learning Management Systems and E-Learning

As always, the LMS is a critical component of the training industry. Alchemy Systems acquired Wisetail this quarter, expanding its food and retail training offerings with Wisetail’s LMS, which is designed for restaurants, retailers and franchises. Absorb Software raised $59 million, Lambda Solutions raised $2.2 million and Croomo raised $2 million this quarter.

In the course authoring space, Ably, which provides a platform for developers to create, deliver and manage games and e-learning, raised $1 million in seed funding, and Unacademy, an online platform for instructors to create video courses, closed an $11.5 million Series B funding round.

IT and Technical Training

Are coding bootcamps still a viable business model? Two major bootcamps, Dev Bootcamp and The Iron Yard, closed this quarter. However, Ironhack raised $3 million, and Tech Talent South received a multi-million-dollar investment to expand its bootcamps as well as its corporate training offerings.

In other IT and technical training news, A Cloud Guru raised almost $9 million to expand its training on all major cloud vendors, Digital Marketing Institute raised €26 million (about $30 million) for its digital marketing and digital sales programs, and Eliassen Group and Principle Solutions Group merged their IT talent and consulting businesses.

GP Strategies made two acquisitions this quarter. The first was CLS Performance Solutions, which provides enterprise resource planning user adoption and training in the U.K. The second was YouTrain, which provides IT, digital and life sciences training in Scotland and England.

Feedback and Coaching

Employees and their managers are continually looking for improved ways to give and receive feedback and coaching, and several deals this quarter look to assist in that process. Personio closed a $12 million Series A funding round for its SaaS platform that manages HR and recruitment processes, including performance management and feedback. O.C. Tanner, a global provider of employee recognition and workplace culture solutions, acquired Accumulate, an Australian provider of recognition and incentive solutions. Tandem HR Solutions, which uses technology to enable feedback and coaching, raised €2 million (about $2.3 million) in seed funding. Meanwhile, Credly, a digital credential provider, raised $4.6 million.

Closing Out 2017: More of the Same?

Will we finish the year with the same momentum we’ve seen in the third quarter? As the economy approaches full employment, organizations are certainly looking to train their employees to both improve performance and encourage retention. This trend will likely be reflected in increased investment in training suppliers, as well. Look for more activity in learning technologies, especially.

Stay tuned…