Articulate Global Raises $1.5 Billion for Online Learning
Online learning is big business. That shouldn't be a surprise given the push to remote work this past year, but the massive funding round that Articulate Global grabbed is eye-opening regardless. The $1.5 billion investment is the second largest funding round so far in 2021, a year that's shaping up to break venture funding records.
New York City-based Articulate, a SaaS-based provider of online training tools and e-learning authoring apps, announced on July 1 that it had secured the Series A funding round led by equity firm General Atlantic and supported by the Blackstone Growth and ICONIQ Growth funds. This is the first time the company, founded by CEO Aaron Schwartz 19 years ago, has tapped outside capital. It pins the company's value at $3.75 billion.
Schwartz told Crunchbase that the company preferred to grow organically, but decided to change course and take on new capital after watching the rise of people working remotely and companies' growing realization that they needed to invest more in engaging employees and helping them be more productive.
Articulate plans to use the money to accelerate its growth plans and scale operations internationally. The aim is to help companies shift from a reliance on instructor-led training to online training better suited to the new world of work, Schwartz said in a press release statement.
“Companies face a whole host of challenges training employees in remote and hybrid work environments and reskilling their workforces post-COVID," Schwartz said. "They’re also under increasing pressure to build learning cultures that treat employees as whole humans, democratize learning creation and consumption, and reduce turnover through enhanced engagement."
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According to company statistics, Articulate's software is used by 106,000 organizations in 161 countries, including 99 of the Fortune 100. Customers, including CVS, Nestlé and L'Oréal, have used Articulate to create more than 3 million courses in the last 12 months and deliver more than 14 million lessons.
Articulate 360 is a suite of online development apps and resources used by companies to create courses and content for corporate learning management systems on a range of topics, from compliance and sales training to leadership development, employee health and wellness, and product training. In 2020, the company launched Rise.com, an online training system to support small and medium-sized businesses and individual departments inside a larger enterprise.
Will Griffith, founding partner of ICONIQ Growth, said in the press release his firm invested because "workplace learning has been a core theme only accentuated by the pandemic."
It's been a busy week in the learning market. On June 29, education technology company 2U and online learning platform pioneer edX announced their plans to team up. Under terms of the deal, Lanham, Md.-based 2U will acquire the assets of Cambridge, Mass.-based edX for $800 million. Together, the companies will reach 50 million learners and offer 3,500 digital programs, according to a press release announcing the deal.
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