It’s no April Fool’s joke: The first quarter of 2017 is over. It was a busy quarter for corporate training, with several M&As and quite a few funding rounds from some younger companies, including members of four accelerators. From innovative learning technologies to the health care industry, e-learning platforms to IT training organizations, and more. If the first quarter is a hint of what’s to come, 2017 will be an exciting year in learning and development.
EdTech Still Hot
In 2016, we saw a lot of momentum in corporate learning technologies. That momentum is growing this year. Performance management and training platforms received a great deal of investment in the first quarter, from Visier’s $45 million Series D round and Reflektive’s $25 million Series B round to multi-million-dollar investments in Yet Analytics, YouEarnedIt, Lingo Live, GAN Integrity and SmartUp. ADP acquired The Marcus Buckingham Company and its coaching platform, and Globiana merged with crossculture academy, together providing intercultural training and coaching. In the talent management software market, Learning Technologies Group agreed to acquire NetDimensions, and Saba Software agreed to acquire Halogen. Ascentis, a provider of cloud-based, SaaS human capital management solutions, including an LMS, announced growth equity financing from Summit Partners, and Peakon, an SaaS analytics platform for employee engagement, raised $6.5 million. Moving into three-dimensional virtual training, Peak Pacific acquired Rock VTS.
“Regtech” is another new buzzword. It stands for regulatory technology, and it’s used by financial services organizations to address regulation requirements. In February, Kaplan acquired Red Marker, an Australian startup whose Artemis system uses artificial intelligence to enable the creation and distribution of compliant digital content. Artemis identifies “risky” content while it’s being created and uses microlearning to help advisers understand compliance issues. (Notably, Kaplan also acquired Genesis Institute this quarter, expanding its leadership and professional development programs in the Middle East.)
Training Entrepreneurs Join Accelerator Programs
Since Y Combinator was founded in 2005, accelerator programs have become a popular way to develop and fund entrepreneurs. Several accelerators have established themselves in the education market, focused on entrepreneurs with innovative solutions for early childhood, K-12, higher, and corporate education.
LearnLaunch began in 2013 and announced its second fund, LearnLaunch Accelerator II, in January of this year. Members receive up to $120,000 in financing and a two-month training program. Among the five companies in this cohort are CareAcademy, which provides online classes for non-medical caregivers; CourseStorm, an online course registration platform; and Quality Interactions, which provides cultural competency training to health care organizations.
Another six LearnLaunch companies closed on Series A or seed funding in March, including Knowledge to Practice, which provides competency-based, personalized learning; Authess, which provides machine learning for measuring competency; and Riipen, which offers project-based learning to individuals.
UnLearn launched an accelerator program in February with GSVlabs. The UnLearn Innovator Program will support trans-Pacific technology ventures focused on learning and workforce development technologies. Also in February, Navitas Ventures invested an initial $50,000 in EduGrowth, an Australian edtech accelerator whose goal is to incubate 200 edtech startups across the country over the next five years.
In March, Edugild announced the third batch of its accelerator program with companies that included SkillSoniq, an adaptive learning company, and ChangeMyPath, an educational game development platform.
Non-traditional technical training had a boost this quarter as well. SecureSet Academy, a cybersecurity bootcamp, raised a $4 million Series A round in January, and Holberton School closed a $2.3 million financing round for full-stack software engineering education.
E-Learning Platforms and Developers
E-learning is still a popular option with trainers and learners, and that popularity is visible in investment trends. In January, course creation platform Teachable closed a $4 million funding round and Unacademy, an Indian online education platform, raised $4.5 million Series A funding round. Crehana, which provides online creative skills training, raised a $750,000 seed capital round to expand in emerging markets. In March, Examity announced a $21 million investment for its online proctoring, and compliance training company BLR acquired Navis Learning, a custom e-learning provider. Closing the quarter was a $12 million funding round for Voxy, a web- and mobile-based English language learning provider.
Health Care and Wellness
Both consumer and employee wellness were popular areas of investment this quarter. Castlight Health acquired Jiff, a health benefits platform, in January. LifeDojo, an employee health improvement and coaching platform, closed a $5.1 million Series A funding round in February. In health care training, Azzur Group acquired Learnaboutgmp (an online training company for the biotech, pharma and medical device companies), and Career Step acquired Panacea Healthcare Solution’s Revenue Capture and Coding and Documentation divisions (providing education and other solutions to the revenue cycle and health care financial market).
Comprehensive Training Service Providers
Two of the major comprehensive training providers had some business changes this quarter as well. Conduent completed its separation from Xerox, launching with $6.7 billion in annual revenue, at the beginning of the year. The new company has over 93,000 employees in more than 40 countries with expertise in transaction-intensive processing, analytics and automation. Conduent’s learning services run the gamut, including instructor facilitation, learning administration, learning consulting, content design and curation, strategic sourcing, and managed services.
In February, GP Strategies completed its acquisition of McKinney Rogers, a global consultancy firm that’s now part of GP Strategies’ Performance Readiness Solutions segment. McKinney Rogers’ services include team development and leadership transformation, making it a good fit for GP Strategies’ comprehensive offerings, which include human capital management, managed learning services, off-the-shelf training, organization and leadership development, sales solutions, and workforce and process excellence.
Training Industry recently announced its 2017 Top 20 Training Outsourcing Companies. View the list here.