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PluralSight Goes Private, But is on an Acquisition Spree

Posted on Tuesday, Jan 19th 2021

According to a recent Global Market Insights report, the global e-learning market size surpassed $200 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at 8% CAGR between 2020 and 2026. Cedar Valley, Utah-based Pluralsight (Nasdaq: PS) continues to deliver strong growth in the market. It recently announced a few acquisitions as it consolidates within the industry and adds additional capabilities to its portfolio. The company was also recently acquired by Vista Equity Partners and will soon be going private.

Pluralsight’s Financials

For the quarter, Pluralsight’s revenues grew 20% to $99.5 million, ahead of the Street’s forecast by 4.35%. Billings for the quarter grew 9% to $100 million. Net loss was $0.24 a share compared with a loss of $0.32 a share a year ago. On an adjusted basis, loss was $0.00 per share, significantly better than the Street’s estimate of a loss of $0.05 per share.

Pluralsight expects to end the current year with revenues of $387-$390 million and an adjusted net loss of $0.12-$0.14 per share. The market was looking for revenues of $382.81 million with a loss of $0.23 per share for the year.

Pluralsight’s Acquisitions

During the quarter, PluralSight announced the acquisition of Colorado-based DevelopIntelligence (DI). Founded by Kelby Zorgdrager in September of 2003, DI designs and executes live, up-skilling, reskilling, and onboarding programs for enterprise customers. It provides virtual learning programs and strategic consulting services for enterprise tech teams.

Prior to the acquisition, DI had raised $250,000 in a single round of funding. The acquisition will allow PluralSight to offer a more comprehensive set of skill development solutions. It plans to integrate DI’s product and delivery capabilities with its own previously existing capabilities to help customers accelerate skills transformation and allow them to work with a single vendor in order to build tech skills.

Earlier this year, PlurlalSight also acquired Next Tech, a San Diego-based company that provides cloud-based computing environments. Founded in November of 2014 by Saul Costa, leverages the cloud space to enable the authoring and hosting of labs in software development, data science, and machine learning.

PluralSight realizes that digital transformation has now become an imperative skill for organizations. Large enterprises need to invest in the skills of their team to ensure successful digital transformation. The acquisition of Next Tech will enable it to offer a more comprehensive solution by combining video content from its expert authors with complementary hands-on experiences. Prior to the acquisition, Next Tech had raised $1.1 million in a single round of funding from investors including Imagine K12, Plug and Play, and Cengage learning.

Last month, Vista Equity Partners announced plans to acquire Pluralsight for $3.5 billion, valuing its stock at $20.26 apiece. Under the terms of the agreement, Vista, in partnership with its institutional co-investors including Partners Group, will acquire all outstanding shares of Pluralsight. Vista is known for acquiring tech-focused companies. Some of its earlier acquisitions include Marketo and Apptio. The deal is expected to be closed by the first half of the year. Pluralsight believes that the acquisition will help expand its presence in the enterprise segment as Vista’s backing will help “open doors and help fuel” growth.

Its stock is trading at $21.43 with a market capitalization of $3.1 billion. It had peaked to a 52-week high of $22.69 in July. The stock hit a 52-week low of $6.59 in March.

Disclosure: All investors should make their own assessments based on their own research, informed interpretations, and risk appetite. This article expresses my own opinions based on my own research of product-market fit, channel execution, and other factors. My primary interest is in product strategy. While this may have bearing on stock movements, my writings tend to focus on long-term implications. The information presented is illustrative and educational, but should not be regarded as a complete analysis nor recommendation to buy or sell the securities mentioned herein. I am not a registered investment adviser and I am not receiving compensation for this article.

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