M&A in Corporate Training: Investments and Acquisitions of the Fourth Quarter of 2017

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Each quarter this year, we’ve taken a look at some of the mergers, acquisitions and new funding for training companies. At the end of 2017, let’s do the same for the last quarter.

Coaching Still Popular in Q4

Coaching was such a popular topic this year that Training Industry Magazine dedicated much of its March/April issue to it, and its popularity continued in the fourth quarter with several acquisitions and investments. In October, Lee Hecht Harrison acquired Mullin International, Butterfly announced a $2.4 million seed funding round for its AI-based coaching software and BTS acquired Coach in a Box. In December, HighGround acquired Yoi Corporation, which describes itself as “a leader in predictive situational coaching.” Mentoring is also still an important form of employee development, and Mentorloop raised $725,000 in November for its mentoring software platform.

Learning and Performance Management Technologies

Edtech investments are not slowing down anytime soon. The fourth quarter of 2017 saw a great deal of activity in this space. Cornerstone OnDemand announced a $300 million strategic investment from Silver Lake and LinkedIn in November and launched a new strategic plan, part of which involves “leveraging its leadership position in global learning to expand its presence in e-learning content.” Notably, Cornerstone OnDemand made its own investment in talent development platform startup Rallyteam as part of its $8.6 million Series A funding round this quarter.

Instructure, an SaaS learning and performance management tech company, acquired Practice, a video microlearning platform, in November. In December, Apprentice announced a $2.5 million funding round for its augmented reality solution for R&D and manufacturing performance support.

This quarter also saw mergers that integrated learning and recruitment technologies, a trend discussed in the November/December “Closing Deals” column of Training Industry Magazine. In October, Kallidus, a learning and talent management company, acquired Advorto and its recruitment software, and Ascendify announced a $11 million Series A funding round for its platform, which “combines talent acquisition and talent management.” The following month, ELMO, which sells a software suite for recruitment, onboarding, and training and talent management, acquired HR tech companies PeoplePulse and LiveSalary.

Other tech deals this quarter included Energage’s $15 million funding round for its employee engagement and measurement platform, Fuel50’s $2.5 million Series A funding round for its career pathing software, Sunlight’s £500,000 seed funding round for its employee development funding platform, Glint’s $20 million Series D funding round for its AI-based performance management and measurement platform, and Nudge Rewards’ $5 million Series A funding round for its mobile frontline employee engagement platform.

Compliance, Health and Safety, and Wellness Training

Also this quarter, ArcheMedX, an e-learning platform for health care professionals, announced $2.5 million in equity financing in October. The next month, Thrive Global, a wellness media and education company, announced a $30 million Series B funding round. In December, CallidusCloud, a cloud-based learning software company, acquired Learning Seat, an adaptive compliance training company, for $26.4 million in cash.

E-Learning Trends: Language, Gaming and the Learning Experience

Several e-learning trends are noticeable in Q4 deals. Several language learning companies saw deals this quarter; Lingo Live was included in Owl Ventures’ second fund of $185 million, Fluent City had a $3 million funding round, Blue Canoe Learning announced a $1.4 million investment and Pearson sold Wall Street English. Game-based learning continues to be popular, with mobile-first learning game platform Talented receiving an investment from Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight. Springboard raised $9.5 million for what it calls a “graduate school alternative,” an e-learning platform for millennials and businesses. Finally, VitalSource acquired Intrepid Learning at the beginning of December, demonstrating the importance of an excellent learning experience.

IT and Technical Training

This year saw the closing of several coding bootcamps; however, this quarter, WeWork acquired Flatiron School, combining WeWork’s shared workspace with Flatiron’s coding bootcamp offering. Galvanize, a network of technical training campuses combining online and in-person training, raised $7 million in October. In the increasingly important cybersecurity training field, KnowBe4 announced a $30 million Series B funding round, and Ataata closed a $3 million Series A funding round.

Sales Training and Enablement

Sales enablement is growing in popularity and importance, and Q4 deals reflect this reality. Kartesia completed an investment in Sales Performance International, Lessonly announced an $8 million Series B funding round, Stone-Goff Partners announced an investment in DSG, MindTickle announced a $27 million Series B funding round and Corel acquired ClearSlide.

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