In the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic, the end of the first quarter came and went. And while mergers and acquisitions seem to have slowed down in April, there was still substantial activity in the training market in January, February and March. So, here is our quarterly summary of what happened in the industry last quarter.
Assessment, Measurement and Analytics
In January, ProctorU, an online exam security and identity management company, and Yardstick Assessment Strategies, a psychometric and computer-based exam administration company, merged to create a new brand, Meazure Learning. Later in the quarter, The Mom Project, which helps businesses attract and retain female talent, acquired Werk, a people analytics platform, expanding its employee experience and workplace productivity analytics services under the new division WerkLabs.
Within compliance training, we saw deals in the areas of cybersecurity, health and safety, employee wellness and well-being, health care and medical, and regulatory and human resources (HR) compliance training.
In cybersecurity awareness training, Curricula closed a $3 million growth investment from RCP Equity for its “fun, story-based security awareness training platform.”
In health and safety training, DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS) acquired Lodestone Partners, a consulting firm aimed at the resource industry. In health and wellness training, Headspace closed a $93 million Series C funding round led by blisce/ for its mindfulness and meditation platform, bringing its total funding to $168.2 million.
In health care and medical training:
- Health Scholars raised $17 million from Arboretum Ventures, Venture Investors, Capital Midwest Fund, OSF HealthCare and family office seed funders for its virtual reality (VR) and cloud-based training platform.
- HealthStream, a provider of workforce and provider solutions for the health care industry, acquired NurseGrid, a health care technology company, for $9.4 million.
In regulatory and HR compliance training:
- Justworks, an HR technology company, closed a $50 million Series E funding round led by Union Square Ventures and FirstMark Capital, bringing its total funding to $143 million.
- Savos, a tax software company, acquired Booke Seminars, which provides seminars to employees of insurance companies and the Internal Revenue Services (IRS).
- Moody’s Corporation acquired RBA International, a provider of online retail bank training and certifications.
In content development, Gryphon Technologies, Inc., a provider of digital engineering, technological services and solutions to U.S. national security agencies, kicked off the year with the acquisition of OMNITEC Solutions, Inc., a provider of enterprise technology, cloud, analytical, strategic advisory and advanced engineering solutions to defense and federal organizations.
Blue Sky eLearn followed later in January with its acquisition of IMPART!, enabling it to offer learning strategy, design and development services along with its Path LMS™ and webinar and livestreaming services. Finally, Kallidus, a learning and talent management provider, acquired Engage in Learning, an eLearning development company specializing in compliance, health and safety, and soft skills training.
In the eLearning segment of the market, including online learning libraries and other providers of self-paced, online learning:
- Sharpist, a “digital ecosystem for personalized learning & development,” raised $5 million in seed funding led by Vorwerk Ventures.
- Udemy, an online course provider, received $50 million from Japanese partner Benesse Holdings, Inc., valuing the company at $2 billion.
- Coassemble, a provider of customizable microlearning modules, announced a $4.4 million Series A funding round led by Equity Venture Partners (EVP) and advised by Clinton Capital Partners. The funding brought its total funding to $6.6 million.
- Wiley, a research and education provider, acquired Madgex, a provider of job board software and career center services.
IT and Technical Training
This segment of the market includes training both for information technology (IT) professionals and software engineers and other technical professionals. Deals included:
- Quotient, Inc., a technology solutions provider serving U.S. government agencies, acquired Eden Consulting Group, a provider of project and program management, earned value management, and risk management services to federal agencies and private enterprises. Eden’s services include training, mentoring and coaching.
- Wiley acquired mthree, an education services provider that finds, trains and places tech talent, from ECI Partners LLP.
- Instruqt, a Netherlands-based provider of a “challenge-driven learning platform,” received $2.16 million from its parent company, Xebia Investment Holding, for its online IT training offerings.
- K12 Inc., a “provider of career readiness education services [and] skills training,” acquired Galvanize, Inc., a provider of training for individuals and corporations in technical fields like software engineering and data science. It paid $165 million in cash.
- Codility, provider of an engineering team building platform, announced a $22 million Series A funding round led by Oxx and Kennet Partners.
- Infosys, a provider of digital services and consulting, acquired Simplus, a Salesforce platinum partner providing cloud consulting, implementation, data integration, change management and training services for Salesforce quote-to-cash applications.
- Learnit, a provider of instructor-led workshops and corporate training, acquired AcademyX, a provider of technical upskilling programs.
- Code Institute announced a $541,000 syndicated investment from Kernel Capital and Enterprise Ireland for its technical course offerings and enterprise services.
In the largest segment of the training market, leadership development:
- Spencer Stuart, an executive search and leadership advisory firm, acquired Cambria Consulting, a provider of individual and team development.
- Seaside Equity Partners acquired TalentSmart, Inc., a provider of emotional intelligence (EQ)
- FlashPoint, a leadership consulting firm, acquired Fine Points Leadership.
- Torch Leadership Labs, which provides executive coaching on its own software platform, acquired Everwise, a learning and development platform providing peer support, mentoring and facilitated learning.
- Ernst & Young acquired PeopleFirm, a consulting firm providing workforce and organization strategy, performance management, diversity and inclusion, leadership, and culture services.
- BTS acquired Rapid Learning Institute, LLC, a provider of leadership and sales microlearning.
Learning technologies, or edtech, continues to be an interesting and innovative sector. Deals this quarter included:
- Cornerstone OnDemand acquired Clustree, a provider of an artificial intelligence (AI)-based skills engine and skills ontology. Prior to the acquisition, Clustree had raised a total of $11.6 million.
- Pearson acquired digital learning technology from Smart Sparrow in a deal that valued Smart Sparrow’s assets at $25 million.
- 1Huddle, a mobile training game provider, raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Tribeca Venture Partners, bringing its total funding to $7.9.
- The Raine Group, a global investment bank focused on technology, media and telecommunications, announced the successful exit of its portfolio company Parchment, an education platform for issuing and receiving academic and professional credentials that merged with Credentials Solutions. Parchment had raised a total of $66 million before the merger.
- Cornerstone OnDemand acquired Saba, a talent experience solutions company, from Vector Capital.
- Talespin, “a special consulting company focused on workforce knowledge transfer and skill alignment,” raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Cornerstone OnDemand, which is partnering with Talespin to deliver its extended reality (XR) training solutions to its customers. The investment brought Talespin’s total funding to $20 million.
- Strivr raised $30 million in Series B funding, led by Georgian Partners, for its VR training platform.
Performance Management and Human Capital Management
In this sector of the market, we saw activity in technologies and services that help organizations track, manage, measure and improve employee performance. Deals included:
- Pathlight, a platform that combines “real-time performance intelligence with coaching, and communication tools,” launched after raising $7 million in Series A funding led by Kleiner Perkins, bringing its total funding to $10 million.
- Kaizo, a startup that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and gamification to enable call center employees to work remotely, announced a $3 million seed funding round led by Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI-focused venture fund) and Partech.
- Betterworks, a continuous performance management software platform, acquired Hyphen, a “continuous employee listening and engagement platform.”
- Kronos and Ultimate Software merged their human capital management and workforce management businesses.
- TextUs, a business text messaging software, closed a $5M Series B funding round led by Blossom Street Ventures and LighterCapital.
- Phenom People, a talent experience platform, raised $30 million in Series C funding led by WestBridge Capital, bringing its total funding to $61 million.
Sales Training and Enablement
- BTS acquired Rapid Learning Institute LLC, a provider of leadership and sales microlearning.
- Selleration, a sales enablement company, merged with DigitalChalk, a learning management system (LMS)
- Cresta, a contact center software provider, announced $21 million in funding from Greylock Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Andy Bechtolsheim, Mark Leslie and Vivi Nevo.
- Varicent, a provider of sales performance management software, acquired Symon.AI, a machine learning-based analytics platform.
- Skynamo, a field sales app and management platform provider, received a $30 million investment from Five Elms Capital, a software investor.
- Sales Benchmark Index, a consulting firm focused on revenue growth, announced its acquisition by CIP Capital.
- SPOTIO, a provider of sales acceleration and performance management software for field sales personnel, announced a $4.5 million Series A funding round from Ballast Point Ventures, bringing its total funding to $5.1 million.
In other areas of the market, Surge Private Equity LLC acquired Norris Training Systems Inc., a provider of training facilities in Texas. Global investment firm KKR closed its Global Impact Fund, “a $1.3 billion fund dedicated to investment opportunities in companies whose core business models provide commercial solutions to an environmental or social challenge,” including learning and workforce development.
EmployStream, a provider of onboarding automation software, closed a $7 million Series B funding round led by Plymouth Growth Partners, bringing its total funding to $11.5 million. Finally, TWI (Training Within Industry) Institute was acquired by its principals, Scott Curtis and Patrick Graupp, from CNY TDO, a nonprofit organization that supports central New York manufacturing and technology companies.
As always, Training Industry will continue to monitor the market and keep you updated — particularly in light of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. If you have any insights or feedback, email the editorial team.
Editor’s note: This article was edited on May 14, 2020, to add STRIVR’s funding.