Perhaps LinkedIn wasn't so foolish to purchase Lynda, after all. With companies worldwide continuing to adapt to sudden shifts in how their employees work, learning and development technologies are becoming highly attractive investments for VCs, angels, and other funders looking for somewhere to put their money.
Prior to 2020, L&D was a function which attracted a great deal of lip-service from corporate leaders, but very little actual action. One study found while more and more money was being spent on development, 71% of companies did not think their leaders could effectively guide the company in the future. This reality reflects similar trends across the talent acquisition space.
The pandemic has upended this. As companies struggle to maintain momentum, they are requiring their people to develop and deploy new skillsets and adapt to new ways of interacting, from Zoom video calls to digital interviewing. Along side of this, the education system has been rapidly moving to full-online-learning models. Corporate L&D and online education have long run in close, parallel, with some overlap.
Recent investments in L&D include:
Coursera: An online learning startup that offers free and paid short courses, skills certifications and complete degrees in partnership with universities and businesses, the startup recently raised $130 million in a series F - this, less than 12 months after an E round which netted them $103m.
Lessonly: This Indiana-based startup had a focus on delivering app-based training to field sales and marketing organizations. With a series C funding round in April, 2020, the company raised an additional $15m, effectively doubling its funding.
HowFM: Germany-based HowFM is focused on rapidly onboarding temporary employees. According to one of their customers: "how.fm helps us to onboard many temp workers in a very short time. We have been able to significantly reduce our training and support workload, especially in peak seasons. All while cutting ramp-up times, but receiving super positive feedback from workers.” – Sonja Hüser, Just Spices GmbH The company raised a seed round of $2.8m in June, and counts Tommy Hilfiger, Duisport, and Ingram Micro, a supply chains services provider that handles fulfillment and returns for Asos and Zalando in Europe, among its customers
As the fall unrolls, schools continue to struggle with online learning, and employers look to leverage any tool they can to re-optimize a disrupted workforce, expect these types of companies and tools to continue to attract attention.
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