Now that the dust has settled from the transition into the 2020s, let’s take one last look at the mergers, acquisitions and investments of 2019, this time focusing on the fourth quarter.
Assessment and Evaluation
There were five deals in this sector last quarter: Employee engagement measurement company Emplify announced a $15 million investment led by Edison Partners; assessment content and technology company PSI Services, LLC, completed an equity investment led by Waud Capital Partners and then acquired Caliper the following month; workforce management software company Workforce Logiq acquired ENGAGE Talent, a predictive analytics company; and SHL acquired talent evaluation company Aspiring Minds.
In compliance training and health and safety, there were six deals in the fourth quarter: legal education company BARBRI acquired Kaplan’s Altior Consulting & Training business; Health & Safety Institute, an environmental health and safety training and compliance company, acquired industrial technologies training company Martech Media, Inc.; Pearson Ventures announced its first investments, including Springboard (a digital skills bootcamp) and Knowledge to Practice (a health care learning platform company); FFL Partners sold Crisis Prevention Institute to investment firm Wendel; Kanarys, Inc., focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, closed its first round of funding, a $1.5 million investment from multiple partners; and EdApp, a microlearning platform, closed a $4.25 million investment from safety solutions company SafetyCulture.
Last quarter, Aliter Capital acquired digital learning company Sponge, and custom learning design company Allen Interactions acquired design thinking firm Problem Solutions.
Strigo, a customer training management company, closed a $2.5 million seed funding round led by Hanaco Ventures last quarter. Customer education and learning software company Intellum acquired content authoring and learning management system provider Appitierre.
Last quarter, Coveo, an artificial intelligence (AI) software as a service (SaaS) company whose use cases include learning and knowledge management, announced a $227 million in funding led by OMERS Growth Equity. EdtechX Holdings, an education services and technology acquisition company, announced a merger with Menten Education, an English language training company in China, Suma Capital invested in Implika, a Basque vocational training company, and e-learning agency GuyKat acquired MTE Professional Services.
IT and Technical Training
A lot of money exchanged hands in the information technology (IT) and technical training space last quarter. In addition to the previously mentioned Pearson Ventures investment in Springboard:
- Kenzie Academy raised $100 million from Community Investment Management to finance student tuition for its software engineering education programs.
- Improving, a technology consulting and training firm, acquired Code Authority, a software development and digital marketing firm.
- IT training company Global Knowledge acquired HODAC Training, a Global Knowledge course reseller in the Netherlands.
- O’Reilly acquired Katacoda and its interactive, hands-on learning platform.
- A Cloud Guru acquired Linux Academy to create an updated content library and cloud computing training platform.
- Developer skills company HackerRank acquired Mimir and its cloud-based computer science course platform.
- Career Karma raised $1.5 million in seed funding for its online coding bootcamp information platform.
Several cybersecurity companies saw some activity:
- IT and training services company Intrepid Solutions and Services acquired BWM Outcomes, a cybersecurity company.
- Cybrary announced a $15 million Series B funding round led by BuildGroup for its online cybersecurity career development platform.
- Immersive Labs raised $40 million in funding led by Summit Partners for its gamified cyber skills platform.
Among the largest segments of the training market, leadership development activity last quarter included VitalSmarts’ acquisition by Leeds Equity Partners (supported by Maranon Capital, L.P.); Korn Ferry’s $400 million senior notes offering; management and technology consulting firm Pariveda Solutions’ acquisition of leadership development firm Levinson & Co.; Cultivate announced an $8 million Series A investment, led by Trinity Ventures, for its AI-based leadership coaching platform; management training platform Verb raised $6.4 million in seed funding from angel investors; and Franklin Covey Co. repurchased $10 million of its common shares from Knowledge Capital Investment Group at $35.14 per share.
Like IT and technical training, the diverse learning technologies market saw a great deal of funding last quarter:
- Blue Canoe, an AI English language training company, closed its seed funding with a $2.5 million round led by Tsingyuan Ventures.
- Pearson acquired Lumerit Education, described as “an ed tech company that helps address the issues of college degree completion and affordability in the consumer and corporate markets.” The deal valued Lumerit at $29 million.
- Centrical (until then known as GamEffective) closed a $13 million funding round led by Aleph.
- LeggUP raised $2 million, led by WFG Family Ventures, for its professional development platform.
- Instructure agreed to an acquisition by Thoma Bravo, LLC, in a transaction valuing Instructure and its learning platforms at $2 billion.
- Degreed acquired Adepto and its “Total Talent” platform.
- EdCast closed $35 million in Series D funding led by Avathon Capital for its AI-based personalized learning and knowledge management platform.
- Trainual closed a $6.75 million Series A round led by 4490 Ventures and MATH Venture Partners for its knowledge transfer platform.
- Its third acquisition of the year, Absorb Software acquired ePath Learning, a cloud-based learning technology company.
- Fuse Universal announced growth funding from Octopus Investments for its learning platform.
- Professional development and career matching platform Aspireship raised $1.4 million in pre-seed funding led by Story Ventures.
Immersive learning technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality picked up some steam last quarter:
- FundamentalVR, a VR medical training company, closed a $5.6 million funding round led by Downing Ventures.
- GIGXR, Inc., a SaaS extended reality platform, acquired mixed reality and immersive learning assets from Pearson PLC.
- Curiious closed $2 million and launched its VR training platform.
Performance Management and Human Capital Management
- PeopleStrategy, Inc., a cloud-based HCM technology provider, announced growth funding from existing investor First Trust Capital Partners, LLC.
- Talent Plus, Inc., a “talent discovery and development” company, acquired “human capital strategy firm” Accendo International.
- People management platform Lattice raised a $25 million Series C funding round led by Tiger Capital.
- Benefits management firm Alera Group acquired HR inTune, an HR consulting firm whose services include leadership training and compliance.
- Stone Point Capital acquired a majority stake in PrismHR, an HR technology company.
- Gtmhub, an objectives and key results (OKRs) platform whose use cases include performance management, announced a $9 million Series A funding round led by CRV.
- PeopleStrong acquired Qilo, a SaaS performance management company, to expand its talent management services.
- Employee experience platform provider Perkbox raised $17.6 million in a funding round led by Draper Espirit.
- SaaS performance management platform Dockabl raised a $1.26 million pre-Series A round.
- VNDLY, a cloud-based work management system, closed a $35 million Series B funding round led by Insight Partners.
Sales Training and Enablement
As sales enablement continues to innovate, and organizations continue to see the benefits of training and coaching, we’ll continue to see funding in this area like we did last quarter:
- Flockjay, an online technology sales academy, raised $2.98 from investors who reportedly included Serena Williams, Will Smith, John Thompson (chairman of Microsoft) and Paul Buchheit (inventor of Gmail).
- ai, an AI-based meeting assistant that enables sales managers to provide coaching, announced a $5 million seed funding round led by Canaan Partners.
- Sverica Capital Management announced an investment in Gryphon Networks, a sales performance management and compliance software company.
- Enerjoy, an AI platform that uses gamification to motivate sales teams and improve their performance, launched a Series A funding round in an event hosted by Strtupboost and SAP Next Gen.
- Kartesia acquired Richardson and merged it with its portfolio company Sales Performance International (SPI).
- Highspot raised a $75 million Series D-1 funding round for its sales enablement platform.
- Brainshark, a sales readiness platform, acquired Reneker, a sales scorecard company.
- MarketingProfs, a marketing training and events company, merged with VantagePoint Performance, a sales training company.
Findcourses.com, a Training Industry, Inc., partner, announced that its parent company, Educations Media Group, was acquired by investment firm Verdane. HR and finance consulting firm S&H announced a partnership with investment firm Ardian to reorganize its capital “through a financing operation amounting to 14 million euros” ($15.37 million), and Entangled Group, a “venture studio focused on the education ecosystem,” announced a $15 million Series B funding round led by Tencent that valued the company at almost $100 million.
In the education benefits arena, Bright Horizons acquired GP Strategies’ tuition program management services business, and Guild Education announced an investment from Stephen Curry, a professional basketball player, and Bryant Barr, president of Stephen Curry’s company, SC 30, Inc. Shortly thereafter, the company closed its $157 million Series D funding round, led by General Catalyst and its chairman and managing director, Ken Chenault. Guild is now valued at $1 billion.
What are your predictions for the training market for the next quarter? Do you have a tip? Let us know by tweeting us @TrainingIndustr or emailing us.