The purchase of Skillsoft for over $2.3bn by Charterhouse Capital has attracted considerable attention across both the worlds of finance and learning and development.
For those of us who attended the IBIS Capital Edtech Europe event last year and listened closely or read the accompanying report e-learning lessons for the future , it was very obvious the edtech and e-learning industry was attracting very real interest from investors.
Skillsoft sits very firmly in the corporate learning market and they claim to provide e-learning courses to over 6000 large enterprises across globe. In many organisations Skillsoft is synonymous with e-learning led learning and development. They have grown both by acquisition and the effective exploitation of LMS vendors need to offer e-learning content.
How Skillsoft, domiciled in Dublin but managed from the US, will be run by its new UK based owners will be interesting. The previous private equity owners have enjoyed a significant return on their investment in Skillsoft despite its loss making status (illustrated by its most recently published accounts in January 2013).
So what does this acquisition mean for the learning technology industry?
The insight that the edtech market was a hot investment opportunity was certainly correct. This acquisition will further stimulate investor’s interest, which is the easy bit to predict!
As mentioned above a quick glance at Skillsofts most recently published results shows an unprofitable business. So what is the opportunity Charterhouse saw to take this business over at such ratios?
The purchase reinforces the conclusion that there is real identifiable demand for off the shelf e-learning and we must also assume a growing demand for quality paid for e-learning, even in a MOOC obsessed market. In short Skillsoft is in the learning content business and it must be we assume a market with validated potential.
Large scale investments such as this by Charterhouse Capital show long term confidence in the future growth of edtech and online learning industry and importantly will have a beneficial effect on the whole market by creating new investment, new interest and consequently real opportunities for other smaller and nimbler companies to grab market share in an invigorated market.
In short, It’s great to know what was once a minority view held by a few prescient pioneers has now become the accepted view across business.……e-learning’s time has arrived!
We firmly believe the transformational effects of learning technologies on the way organisations and their staff reach their full potential has only just begun.
There are many UK and overseas businesses well placed to take advantage of this newly invigorated market. We would highlight integrated content providers such as Virtual College the UK champion, Deltanet, Learning Nexus, France’s Cross Knowledge and many other content vendors and very modestly ourselves at Learning Light who are all ready to exploit the Skillsoft deal effect!
Indeed Learning Light now have a library of excellent up to date evaluated e-learning materials. Many of the courses are learning Apps ideal for use on tablets and smartphones and aligned for Just in Time learning. Learning Light also has a large collection of online courses aimed at the 70 20 10 model of workplace learning, all of which are going to be in real demand.