The first quarter of the new year is already over, and as we do each quarter, it’s a good time to take a look at some of the trends we’re seeing in the corporate training industry, reflected in the mergers, acquisitions and funding from this quarter.
The year started with NIIT’s acquisition of Eagle Productivity Solutions, which trains employees of pharmaceutical or life sciences companies in cloud-based applications, and Palamon Capital Partners’ acquisition of a majority stake in small and medium-sized enterprise assessment solutions provider Thomas International. The health care industry also saw some activity, with February’s acquisition of Health Stream’s patient experience and engagement businesses by Press Ganey and i-Human Patients by Kaplan. The simulation training provided by i-Human Patients reflects the growing trend of using technology-enabled immersive learning to train health care providers.
Earlier in the year, CAE, an aviation, defense and security, and health care training company, acquired part of Pelesys, an aviation training solutions and courseware supplier. 360Training, which provides online training courses for regulated industries, announced a new investment in February. In March, KnowBe4 acquired Popcorn Training, expanding its cybersecurity training business into Africa, and Health & Safety Institute acquired Vivid Learning Systems, an online safety training company. Also that month, Poka, a web and mobile knowledge-sharing platform for manufacturing companies, raised $10 million, and Grace Hill, which provides online training for the multifamily property management industry, was acquired by Stone Point Capital.
Performance Management and Learning Technologies
There was a lot of investment in performance management and learning platforms this quarter. The largest was Reflektive’s $60 million Series C funding round to support performance management on the cloud. That funding was followed in size by Frontier Capital’s $47 million investment in Igloo Software, whose platform supports communication, collaboration, knowledge management, employee engagement and organizational culture; Danish Growth Fund’s $30 million investment in Area9 Lyceum, an adaptive learning business; and BetterUp’s $26 million Series B funding round.. Other investments include Skilljar’s $16.4 million Series A funding round, Hive Learning’s £3.5 growth capital funding (approximately $5 million), Serious Factory’s €3 million funding (approximately $3.7 million) and CultureIQ’s $2.25 million seed expansion round.
SAP America, Inc. announced its $36-per-share acquisition of Callidus Software Inc. this quarter. CallidusCloud’s suite of solutions includes learning and development as well as sales enablement. Other learning and performance technology acquisitions included Marlin Equity Partner’s completed acquisition of Inkling Systems (a workplace content platform), Comvest Partner’s acquisition of Engage2Excel (an employee recognition, talent acquisition and consumer loyalty solutions provider), Accel-KKR’s exit of PageUp People (a talent management SaaS platform) and PeopleStrong’s acquisition of Capabiliti (a training delivery platform by Qustn Technologies).
Recruiting, Management and Development Consulting Firms
Several leadership consulting firms announced acquisitions and mergers this quarter. IMPAQ acquired Maher & Maher, a firm focused on business integration, change management and training solutions, and Novo Group, a recruitment and management consulting firm, merged with Xcellero Leadership, a leadership and organizational development firm. Finally, talent development and transition firm CMP merged with The Frontier Group, which specializes in career transition, redeployment and executive coaching, and with The Mentor Group, which also provides career transition solutions and executive coaching as well as mentoring.
E-Learning and Content Development
In February, inWhatLanguage closed a $1.25 million investment from Enhanced Community Development for its large-scale translation and localization services, including for training content. In March, Baring Private Equity Asia and CITI Capital Holdings Limited closed their $300 million acquisition of Wall Street English by Pearson. Singularity University, which provides training for both organizational clients and individual learners on “navigating accelerating technological change,” announced a $32 million Series B funding round. The following month, Degreed raised a $42 million Series C funding round, and Sunlands Online Education Group (an online Chinese professional education company) announced the pricing of its IPO ($149.5 million in total).