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2017 IPO Prospects: Pluralsight Looks Ready

Posted on Friday, Feb 17th 2017

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Cedar Valley, Utah-based EdTech company, and Billion Dollar Unicorn member Pluralsight is expected to go public soon. According to TechNavio, the global corporate e-learning market is expected to grow 11% annually to be worth $31 billion by 2020. Pluralsight has its eyes set on this fast-paced market.

Pluralsight’s Offerings

Founded in 2004 by Aaron Skonnard, Keith Sparkjoy, and Fritz Onion, Pluralsight was set up with a mission to change the world through online professional training. Aaron, along with his partners had years of experience in the professional software developer training market and they leveraged their experience to build a cost-efficient training solution. Unlike other training services providers that rely on individual trainers, Pluralsight went on to develop training packages that could be sold worldwide and help scale its business.

What began with 10 courses now boasts of a library of more than 5,000 courses created by over 1,000 instructors. Pluralsight charges a subscription fee of $299 per year for individuals or $499 per user per year for organizations. A subscription service allows users to download training material, access content offline, and participate in assessments.

Its effective business model has translated to impressive revenue growth. Pluralsight is privately held and does not disclose detailed financials. Reports suggest that its revenues have grown from $6 million in 2011 to $100 million in 2015. Pluralsight claims that revenues are between $100-$200 million in 2016. Other reports peg the number at $160 million for the year 2016.

Pluralsight has been very prudent with its funding. It bootstrapped its operations for nearly a decade before going in for venture funds from 2013 onwards. Till date, Pluralsight has raised $239 million from investors including Felicis Ventures, GSV Advisors, Sorenson Capital, Iconiq Capital, and Insight Venture Partners. Its last round of funding was held in December 2016 when it raised $30 million at an undisclosed valuation. Prior to this round, Pluralsight had raised $135 million in August 2014 at a valuation of $1 billion. Its last round of funding is expected to be used to pay off debt and build up its salesforce. The management recently announced that it was gearing toward an IPO.

Pluralsight’s Growth

Pluralsight has been expanding its focus in the corporate e-learning market. Pluralsight believes that the emerging web and infrastructure technologies along with cyber threats are forcing developers into ensuring that they are constantly learning. The development is good for Pluralsight that is constantly building training packages for every technology that companies need to master by hiring tech experts.

Besides organizations, Pluralsight is also targeting schools. Earlier this year, St Patrick’s Grammar school in Northern Ireland became the first school in Europe to test Pluralsight’s online training model. The school was chosen to pilot the venture created by Belfast-based Wholeschool Software and Pluralsight. The partnership will allow students at St Patrick’s to access Pluralsight’s learning platform and gain digital skills. The move is in line with what Aaron had spoken to be about back in 2012. His vision for Pluralsight for the future included training kids to help them prepare for a next career.

Pluralsight is not the only vendor in the market though. Two years ago, LinkedIn had acquired Lynda.com for $1.5 billion. Other vendors in the space include Udacity, General Assembly, Treehouse, and Codeacademy that provide online programs focused on coding. You can read more about Aaron’s journey to set up Pluralsight in my interview with him in 2012 and watch this more recent roundtable recording where he speaks about his bootstrapping strategy, as well as financing and roll-up strategy:

Photo Credit: diane Horvath/Flickr.com

This segment is a part in the series : 2017 IPO Prospects

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