It’s officially summer, and between beach vacations and road trips, now is a good time to reflect on some of the major deals that took place in the training industry during the second quarter of 2017. This quarter saw several investments in e-learning and learning technology companies, as well as deals in leadership development, sales training, and workforce and technical education. Here’s a roundup of some of the key deals.
Leadership Development Acquisitions
Work Institute merged with Scarlett Leadership Institute in April. Now operating under the Work Institute brand, the combined company provides exit and stay interviews; engagement, onboarding and recruitment studies; custom consulting; and custom programs and courses for mid- and senior-level leaders. In May, Franklin Covey acquired Robert Gregory Partners to add learning program support and executive coaching services to Franklin Covey’s leadership and sales training content.
Learning Technologies and E-Learning
Last quarter saw significant activity in learning technologies and online training, and this quarter followed the same trend. In April, Everfi received the first investment of The Rise Fund, a $2 billion fund co-founded by Bono. The Rise Fund focuses on investments in sectors it believes will make the greatest global impact – including education – and led the $190 million Series D funding round in the e-learning business, which acquired Workplace Answers earlier that month to expand compliance training offerings.
Other e-learning investments included a Series A investment in HT2 Labs by City & Guilds Group. HT2 Labs calls itself “the R&D Company for workplace digital learning” and includes Red Panda, a personal learning hub; Curatr, a social learning platform; and Learning Locker, a learning record store. CreativeLive raised $25 million, part of which it will use to scale its new enterprise offering, and Coursera closed a $64 million Series D funding round, part of which it, too, will use to expand its enterprise business.
In April, GP Strategies acquired Emantras, adding the e-learning content developer to its Learning Solutions business, and Blackstone and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board acquired Ascend Learning, which provides online content to students, educational institutions and businesses. 2U, Inc. acquired GetSmarter in May, enhancing its partnerships with universities to offer online training to professionals, and CallidusCloud acquired Learning Heroes in June, enhancing its mobile learning platform with Learning Heroes’ “bite-sized, fun and mobile learning content.” Relias, a health care e-learning company, made two acquisitions this quarter to expand its analytics offerings: Care Management Technologies in April and WhiteCloud Analytics in June.
In April, Purdue University acquired Kaplan University, creating what it describes as “a new public university that will further expand access to higher education.” The program will primarily offer online courses but will also have locations across the country.
This quarter also saw several funding rounds and acquisitions among edtech companies, including Saba Software’s acquisition of Halogen Software in May for about $9.64 per share. Together, the companies say they “plan to deliver a new vision for talent management – one that combines people-centric learning, engagement, and performance in new ways, enabling organizations to meet their employees on new terms, and transform the employee experience.” They’ve already launched a new Halogen app for mobile coaching. In April, the LearnLaunch accelerator program announced its seventh edtech cohort, which included Creatr, a knowledge and mentoring platform for creative professionals; LearnBolt, a mobile training business; and The Wealth Factory, which designs financial literacy games.
Reflecting the popularity of social learning, VideoKen raised $1 million from angel investors in April “to ramp up the artificial intelligence capabilities” of its video-based social learning platform, and Gnowbe raised $1.7 million for its mobile learning platform, which leverages microlearning, social learning and gamification to support training.
Sales Training, Coaching and Enablement
Early in the quarter, Sales Bootcamp acquired Inside Sales Bootcamp. The company offers an online sales bootcamp and partners with technology companies to provide fellowships to its graduates. In May, SalesHood closed a Series A funding round for its mobile platform, which uses video-based microlearning content and social learning to improve sales productivity, and People.ai raised a $7 million Series A funding round for its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered sales management platform. Vista Equity Partners also acquired Xactly that month, for about $564 million. Xactly provides cloud-based compensation solutions for sales organizations as well as Xactly Inspire, a sales coaching platform. Finally, in June, SAVO acquired KnowledgeTree and now boasts that it’s “the only company offering a complete solution in the sales enablement industry.”
Workforce Development and Technical Training
There were several acquisitions in the workforce development space this quarter, including International Institute for Learning’s acquisition of Orbital Training and Consulting, which provides corporate training in lean thinking, Six Sigma, business process improvement, project management and other skills; Hallcon Corporation’s acquisition of Transportation Certification Services, Inc. and Rail Temps, Inc.; and Health & Safety Institute’s acquisition of CLMI Safety Training. Viridis Learning also raised investment capital for its mission of “expanding economic mobility around the world, ending the global skills gap, and leading in 21st century workforce development.”
In June, CVC Capital Partners Fund VI agreed to acquire QA Group, including QA Learning, a professional training business; QA Apprenticeships; QA Consulting, its technical project support business; and QA Higher Education, which provides undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs through partnerships with universities. Also, that month Academy XI raised a $1.7 million Series A funding round for its training programs in design and new technologies.