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Digital Whiteboard Specialist Mural Acquires LUMA Institute

April 20, 2022 Collaboration and Productivity
Gabrielle Rodgers
By Gabrielle Rodgers LinkedIn

Mural, a San Francisco-based provider of digital workspace and collaboration software, acquired the LUMA Institute (LUMA) in March.

Founded in 2010, LUMA is a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based provider of skills training, digital resources and certifications for design thinking and problem-solving. The company's name comes from the combination of what it calls the three key design skills: looking, understanding and making.

Mural plans to use the acquisition to boost its approach to what it calls a "collaborative intelligence system," a way to connect teams to move ideas into actions.

“As we look ahead, collaborative intelligence will help distributed teams create a culture of effective collaboration where everyone is connected, contributing and realizes their true potential, which ultimately delivers business-driving outcomes,” Sean Lauer, senior director of product marketing at Mural, told Reworked.

A Growing Market for Digital Visual Collaboration Tools

Mural is one of a group of online and virtually enabled whiteboards that have emerged to support teamwork and project collaboration. These digital whiteboards can be of particular use for remote and hybrid teams that are collaborating at a distance or asynchronously at different times.

Mural customers, which include IBM, Microsoft, GitLab, Steelcase and Atlassian, use the company's digital whiteboard to collaborate in real time or asynchronously in functional areas such as consulting, innovation, product development, IT and senior leadership. 

The privately held company was founded in 2011 by Agustin Soler, Mariano Suarez-Battan and Patricio Jutard and has received total investor funding of $192 million, according to Crunchbase. The company last raised a Series C round of $50 million in July 2021. Competitor Miro raised $400 million in January 2022, the latest indicator that the rise of the remote and hybrid workplace has been good for collaboration software.

Related Article: A New Class of Digital Whiteboards Make Virtual Collaboration Easier

How the LUMA Acquisition Fits

The LUMA acquisition is aimed at creating a competitive advantage for Mural by allowing the combined companies, which have already worked together on a number of shared clients over the last several years, to transform how teams collaborate and innovate at enterprise scale, according to Lauer.

"LUMA’s expertise lies in teaching people how to design and facilitate collaboration," he said. "In fact, many of Mural's existing employees have already been trained by LUMA in order to support the tens of thousands of teams they work with, including IBM, Intuit, and SAP. Our offerings are complementary and stronger together."

The focus on creating a collaborative intelligence system via this acquisition is designed to encourage teams to more deeply collaborate. When individuals feel isolated and disengaged at work, it has a negative impact on the bottom line, according to Lauer.

Related Article: Do We Collaborate Too Much?

What's Next for Mural?

Lauer told Reworked the company is exploring numerous ways for Mural customers to take advantage of the LUMA acquisition. That may include a la carte packages or a subscription premium for specific content. Currently, Mural pricing plans will not change. The company offers four tiers of membership: Free forever, Team+, Business, and Enterprise.

Components of the collaborative intelligence system are available today, including collaboration spaces, a collaboration center where users can access personalized resources, integrations with existing workflows, and a network of community members and consultants.

Mural also plans to launch a Collaboration Design Institute, which LUMA will aid in building, to offer training, curriculum and certifications later this year. The company is also working on the development of Collaboration Insights, features that will offer users information to improve enterprise collaboration.

"Collaborative intelligence takes direct aim at the prevailing state of disconnection in the enterprise—the isolation and disengagement that so many people feel that leads to poor business outcomes," Lauer said. "Conversations with thousands of enterprise customers have proven to us that technology alone cannot transform the way teams work and collaborate together on a global scale. We see this when employees are burning out and even top companies are struggling to deliver the innovation needed to maintain market dominance."

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