We’ve reached the midway mark of 2018, and, as we do each quarter, it’s time to take a look at the trends in deal-making in the training industry.
Managing the Entire Employee Lifecycle
From hiring to onboarding and training to performance management, many providers are offering products and services to help buyers manage their employees’ entire tenure. This quarter, SAP completed its acquisition of Callidus Software, which includes the learning platform Litmos, and Learning Technologies Group added PeopleFluent to its portfolio, rounding out its services to include recruitment, performance and compensation solutions as well as training and development.
The Adecco Group, an HR solutions company, acquired digital skills training company General Assembly, and Workday acquired talent mobility platform Rallyteam. Investment firm Hg invested in The Access Group, a business software company whose offerings include HR and L&D solutions, and OMERS Private Equity acquired Alexander Mann Solutions, a talent acquisition and management services business. Ceridian HCM Holding, a human capital management software company, announced the pricing of its IPO: 21 million shares at $22 per share.
IT and Technology Training
As ever, IT and other technological professionals require upskilling to help fill skills gaps across industries and organizations. To that end, Pluralsight, which offers technology training solutions for individuals and businesses, announced the pricing of its IPO this quarter: 20.7 million shares at $15 per share. Trilogy Education closed a $50 million Series B funding round to support its “intensive training programs” in fields such as coding, data analytics, user experience and cybersecurity.
Uniquedu, which provides training for software developers and project managers, raised Series D funding that brought its value to $1 billion. Techtonic Group, a software development apprenticeship provider, received $2 million in its first round of funding, and Learning Tree secured a $5 million financing agreement as the result of one of its founders’ sale of his stock. Cyberbit, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd. that provides cybersecurity training and other solutions, raised $30 million from Claridge Israel.
Serious Games, Serious Funding
Forbes has recently reported on the explosion of online gaming as an entertainment industry in its own right, a trend that is, perhaps, related to the funding we’ve seen in serious games and gamification in the training industry. From OSF Ventures’ investment in Level Ex, which develops mobile video games for physicians to practice diagnosis and surgery, to 1HUDDLE’s $3 million Series A funding for its “quick-burst mobile games,” to GamEffective’s $11 million Series B round for its gamification platform, investment in this area is unlikely to slow down.
Emerging Technologies: Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence
New and exciting technologies like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) have, of course, been talked about in the training industry for some time now. However, this quarter saw a pick-up in terms of funding for these tools and their use in training. SweetRush acquired emerging technologies firm IDEA Workshop and created a new emerging technologies group called SPARK.
Innoactive, an enterprise VR/AR provider, raised €4.4 million (approximately $5.1 million), immersive technology company Make Real secured an equity investment of an unknown amount, and enterprise AR startup Re’Flekt opened its Series A funding round with a $4.4 million opening investment from BASF Venture Capital. Tact.ai, a conversational AI sales platform, raised a $27 million Series C round, and Phenom People, a talent relationship marketing platform using AI to help companies attract and engage employees, raised a $22 million Series B round. Convergence Training, which specializes in 3D and animation training content for the industrial operations, manufacturing and mining industries, was acquired by e-learning company Vector Solutions.
Supporting Online Learning
Companies that provide more “traditional” learning technologies, as always, saw substantial investment activity this quarter as well. GSVlabs, a startup accelerator and “innovation lab” with an edtech community that includes Degreed and Pluralsight, closed a $7 million Series B funding round. Fuse Universal raised $20 million in growth capital, and Vbrick raised $20 million for its enterprise video software solution.
Mind Gym, which delivers video lessons on topics such as performance management, diversity training and employee engagement, announced its planned £145 million (about $190.6 million) listing on London’s junior AIM market. MPS, a platform and content solutions provider, acquired Tata Industries’ learning business, Tata Interactive Systems. Content library mergers included Media Partners Corporation and Prositions as well as Degreed’s acquisition of Pathgather.
Workforce Development and Industry-Specific Solutions
Industries such as transportation, health care, technology and manufacturing saw training investments this quarter as well. In health care, MedBridge received an investment for its clinical and professional education, patient education, and home rehabilitation programming; Allocate Software, a workforce solutions provider for health care as well as defense and maritime industries, received an investment; and GP Strategies acquired IC Axon, a training company for pharmaceutical and life science companies.
TransForce, a workforce solutions provider for the transportation industry, acquired SafetyServe, a software company and online safety training provider. Simplify Compliance, which serves the human capital management, health care, financial services and communications markets, acquired Bluepoint Leadership Development. An investor group led by Bain Capital Double Impact acquired Penn Foster, which provides training and digital credentialing to frontline and technical workers in industries such as health care, retail, manufacturing and solar energy. Finally, edtech company QuizRR, which focuses on global supply chains, raised a $1.3 million financing round.
Performance Management, Assessments and Leadership
Managing employees and evaluating their performance is an ongoing challenge. This quarter, credentialing company Learning Machine Technologies (which uses blockchain) announced a $3 million seed round, and Credly acquired Pearson’s Acclaim badging business. Battery Ventures invested in Learnosity, which announced it would expand from focusing solely on K-12 education into the corporate learning market. Assessment company Cloverleaf announced an investment, and PSI Services, a professional testing services provider, acquired Select International, which provides hiring, development, safety and leadership assessments.
The term “employee experience” is becoming a buzzword. Vista Equity Partners invested in YouEarnedIt, a SaaS company that “amplifies company culture through its award-winning employee experience platform” that combines engagement, retention and performance management. Other performance management investments include Klaxoon’s $50 million Series B funding round and SocialChorus’ $12.5 million growth financing (both for internal communications and collaboration tools), Waggl’s $7 million Series A funding for its feedback platform, Pingboard’s $5 million seed funding for its “org chart with superpowers,” and TIMIA Capital’s $1.5 million investment in performance management platform 7Geese.
Not to be ignored is the activity in the leadership development market. Rockpool invested in Interact, a “practice-based learning” company focused on leadership skills, and Management Concepts and Pivotal Practices Consulting created a joint venture under the Small Business Administration’s Mentor-Protégé Program. Management Concepts is a professional development, performance improvement and human capital solutions provider for the public sector, and Pivotal Practices Consulting is “a leadership training company focused on promoting engaged and inclusive workplaces.”
Sales Training and Enablement
Our final category this quarter is sales training and enablement. More than one company branding itself as an originator of sales enablement announced acquisitions. Seismic, a sales and marketing enablement company, acquired SAVO Group, “founded in 1999 as the first sales enablement solution,” and ShowPad, “the industry’s first integrated sales enablement provider,” acquired LearnCore, a sales training and coaching software provider. Customer engagement platform company Outreach closed $65 million in Series D funding, and Costello raised $2.1 million in seed funding for its “real-time sales playbook platform.”
What’s next? Stay tuned on TrainingIndustry.com, and let us know what you predict for the third quarter by talking to us on social media. Start a conversation on LinkedIn in our group, or tweet us @TrainingIndustr.