Each quarter, we gather the industry’s mergers, acquisitions and funding from the previous three months to share some of the major trends. The second quarter of 2019 saw significant activity in assessment and analytics, compliance training, e-learning, IT and technical training, leadership training, learning technologies and human capital management (HCM) platforms, and sales training and enablement.
Assessment and Analytics
In April, OutMatch, a predictive talent and culture analytics company, and The Devine Group, a human resources (HR) technology company, merged into one company under the name OutMatch. Later that month, Examity, a proctoring company serving colleges, employers and certification providers, announced a $90 million investment from private equity firm Great Hill Partners to expand the company and “support continued research and development into the application of machine learning and biometrics.”
In May, Stephanie Lischke, founder and principal of Positive Developments, acquired assessment management services provider Franklin & White. The firm serves executive coaches, leadership consultants and executive education providers as well as learning and development (L&D) professionals. Later that month, Criteria Corp., an employee analytics platform, announced a $56 million investment from Sumeru Equity Partners “to accelerate product innovation and growth,” according to the press release.
Compliance and Health Care Training
In April, HammerTech, a mobile health, safety and quality software company for the construction industry, announced a $10 million Series A funding round led by Arrowroot Capital. GIBLIB, a platform of on-demand medical lectures and surgical videos in 4K and 360-degree virtual reality (VR), closed $2.5 million in seed funding. The Access Group acquired Unicorn and its digital learning suite for training, governance, risk management and compliance.
Later that month, RiskLens closed a $20 million Series B round led by Paladin Capital Group “to expand leadership in cyber risk quantification,” according to the press release. Renovus Capital Partners acquired a major interest in KSM Consulting, a technology, data and management consulting firm whose offerings include cybersecurity training.
Also in April, Simplify Compliance sold Argosy Group in order to focus more “on its core markets: human capital management, healthcare, environmental health and safety, and communications,” according to the press release. Jensen Hughes, a “safety, security and risk-based engineering and consulting” company, acquired Hillard Heintze, a risk management and investigation services firm. Adtalem Global Education acquired the financial services division of OnCourse Learning, a compliance training, licensure preparation, continuing education and professional development firm, for about $121 million in cash, and Salary Finance announced a $32.8 million Series C round led by Blenheim Chalcot and Legal & General. Salary Finance offers companies financial wellness solutions for their employees.
May saw one acquisition and two funding rounds in this space. Thoma Bravo acquired a majority stake in Cority, an environmental, health, safety and quality software company, and Modern Health, a mental well-being benefits platform provider, announced a $9 million Series A round led by Kleiner Perkins. KnowBe4, a cybersecurity awareness training and simulated phishing platform provider, acquired CLTRe, “a Norwegian company focused on helping organizations assess, build, maintain and measure a strong security posture.”
Shortly thereafter, KnowBe4 announced a $300 million funding round led by KKR, valuing the company at $1 billion. On the same day, another cybersecurity awareness training company, CybeReady, closed $5 million financing and entered the North American market.
Also in June, BARBRI, a legal education provider, acquired The Center for Legal Studies and its online programs and courses for paralegals and other legal support professionals. Private equity investment firm Inverness Graham invested in Syntrio and Lighthouse Services, merging them to form a company with “a unified, comprehensive risk management and compliance solution,” according to the press release. Finally, Afya Limited, a health care education company, filed a $100 million IPO.
April saw one of the biggest deals of the quarter with Coursera’s $103 million Series E equity round led by SEEK Group. SEEK Group also invested $62.63 million to become a 50% owner of The Open University’s FutureLearn social learning platform this month. Echo360, a higher education and continuing education platform, raised $3 million of a $5 million round, and Learnship, an online and face-to-face language training provider, acquired GlobalEnglish, a digital English language training company. Golden, “a self-constructing knowledge database built by artificial and human intelligence,” announced $5 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz.
In May, publishing companies McGraw-Hill and Cengage announced an all-stock merger, and OpenSesame, an e-learning company with an online catalog of curated courses, announced a $28 million growth equity round led by FTV Capital. Finally, in June, Unacademy, which calls itself India’s largest learning platform, closed a $50 million Series D funding round led by Steadview Capital, Sequoia India, Nexus Venture Partners and Blume Ventures.
IT and Technical Training
Another major acquisition this quarter was 2U’s acquisition of “workforce accelerator” Trilogy Education Services for $750 million in cash and stock, which was announced in April and closed in May. Also in May, Pluralsight acquired GitPrime, a “developer productivity platform,” for $170 million in cash.
Also this quarter, MIS Training Institute, an information security, IT audit and internal audit training company, acquired LeaderQuest, a cybersecurity and IT training and job placement company, and Hack The Box raised $1.3 million “to further [its] effort in becoming the world’s largest hacker community,” according to an article by Tech.eu. In May, By Light Professional IT Services acquired Metova Federal, a cyber range and cybertraining services provider for the U.S. government.
Bongo, a video assessment provider, acquired SLIDE21, a consulting company specializing in agile team development, Scrum training and certification, and business analysis. Later that month, A Cloud Guru, an online cloud computing training and talent development company, announced a $33 million growth equity investment led by Summit Partners. In June, Bitwise Industries raised $27 million in Series A financing led by Kapor Capital and New Voices Fund. One of the largest Series A rounds ever raised by a Latin American woman, this funding “supports the company’s goal of activating human potential for the technology industry in underdog cities.”
Leadership Development and Performance Management
This quarter, executive search and leadership advisory firm Spencer Stuart acquired Aon’s culture and engagement, leadership assessment and development, succession planning, and HR effectiveness businesses. Another leadership consulting firm, Egon Zehnder, acquired a minority stake in Sinequanon, a Swiss company that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to help organizations improve their culture and performance. In June, mobile coaching company BetterUp announced a $103 million Series C funding round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners.
In April, O.C. Tanner acquired Indian employee recognition company Kwench, and Engage2Excel Group of Companies, acquired Rideau, an employee recognition company. Learning Technologies Group acquired Breezy HR and its recruitment software, and Howamigoing, a feedback and performance management platform, raised $1.11 in seed funding led by angel investors.
In May, consulting and talent solutions company Eliassen Group acquired Credere Group, a professional services and management consulting firm. The next month, InComm, a payments and technology services company, acquired Hallmark Business Connections, Hallmark Cards’ business-to-business incentives subsidiary. LandrumHR acquired hrQ, a professional services firm offering talent strategy and talent management, organizational design, workforce planning and analytics, and interim HR talent and HR executive search. Finally, Fellow.app, a manager software company, announced $6.5 million in seed capital from Inovia Capital, Felicis Ventures, Garage Capital and angel investors.
Learning and HCM Technology
In April, Synapse closed $2.5 million in seed financing to grow its platform, which “automates the instructional design process,” according to the press release. Pearson announced a $50 million investment “to participate in Series A and Series B financings for education startups, including boot camps, next-gen assessment and credentialing platforms, learning tools and augmented reality technology,” according to a TechCrunch article.
Also in April, 360Learning, a learning engagement platform, announced a $41 million Series B investment from Bpifrance, Hi Inov – Dentressangle, XAnge, Educapital and ISAI. Instructure filed a Form D with a total offering of $12.5 million, Credly announced $11.1 million in funding from ZOMA Capital and Strada Education Network, and Northpass closed a $4 million Series A funding round led by Edison Partners.
That month, PrismHR, a software company for human resource outsourcing (HRO) service providers, acquired AgileHR, a cloud-based talent management software company. Alight Solutions, a HCM and financial solutions company, acquired “the Workday and Cornerstone OnDemand cloud practices of Wipro Limited.” QOREBOARD, a “provider of Performance Management as a Service (PMaaS™) solutions,” closed a $1.6 million seed funding round led by IDEA Fund Partners. Rippling, an “employee management system” provider, raised a $45 million Series A round led by Mamoon Hamid of Kleiner Perkins, and Bonusly, an employee recognition platform provider, raised $1.5 million in a funding round led by FirstMark Capital and Bloomberg Beta, according to an article from BuiltInColorado.com.
This market segment was busy in April. Also that month, Eightfold.ai, a “talent intelligence platform,” raised $28 million in Series C financing led by IVP, “making it one of the most well-capitalized AI solutions for talent management,” according to the press release. Lattice, a people management platform company, announced a $15 million Series B funding round led by Shasta Ventures.
In May, Wiley agreed to acquire Knewton, “a provider of affordable courseware and adaptive learning technology,” and Absorb Software acquired Torch LMS, a SaaS LMS provider. Interplay Learning, an online VR and simulation training provider for the skilled trades, closed a $5.5 million Series A funding round led by S3 Ventures, and Acendre acquired ICS Learning Group, creating “a powerful, secure end-to-end talent management solution” for government and regulated industries. Enghouse Systems acquired video software solutions provider Vidyo for approximately $40 million, and 3Play Media, a video accessibility services company, announced an investment from Riverside Partners.
Also in May, Engagedly, a performance management and employee engagement software company, acquired Management Mentors, a SaaS mentoring software company. ENGAGE Talent announced $3.5 million in funding, led by High Alpha Capital and Grand Ventures, “to accelerate the innovation and scaling of its groundbreaking AI Talent Intelligence technology,” according to the press release.
The next month, Learning Pool acquired HT2 Labs and its Learning Locker learning record store and Curatr learning experience platform. Enboarder, a cloud-based onboarding company, closed $8 million in Series A financing led by Greycroft, and MentorcliQ, a mentoring software company, closed $6.3 million in growth capital financing. Curiious closed a $2 million funding round in conjunction with the launch of its virtual reality training platform, according to an HR Technologist article.
Also in June, PredictiveHR, a SaaS company that uses machine learning “to predict talent trends and their financial impacts,” raised $1 million from angel investors. Perkbox, which created an employee experience platform, raised $16.91 million led by Draper Esprit, according to a TechCrunch article. Finally, VC Circle reported a pre-Series A funding round of $1.26 million for Dockabl, a performance management platform company.
Sales Training and Enablement
The final segment that saw funding this quarter, sales training and enablement, was led by a $114 million Series E round of funding for sales engagement platform Outreach. The April funding was led by Lone Pine Capital. Also in April, SalesLoft, another sales engagement platform company, announced $70 million in Series D funding led by Insight Partners.
In May, Pitchboy, a VR sales and customer service training company, closed a $675,000 seed funding round. The next month, Highspot, a sales enablement platform provider, announced a $60 million Series D funding round led by ICONIQ Capital. Cien, an “AI-powered sales productivity solutions” company, raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by Elaia, and sales enablement company Showpad raised $70 million in Series D funding led by Dawn Capital and Insight Partners.
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