Back in the days, if you were a professional wanting to learn some new skills to get that promotion, switch jobs, or even switch careers, you’d enroll in some community classes.
Today, you can use the Internet, and more specifically, services such as Pluralsight, which offers a variety of online courses for professionals and has just raised $135 million in a second round of funding.
“Lynda for example, has a really wide breadth of content, but it doesn’t go very deep in a particular area, with a few exceptions,” he said. He added that it would thus make sense for someone to start with Lynda courses, and then graduate to Pluralsight’s once they need more depth in a particular course.
Another competitor, Udemy, is more reliant on a community of folks to submit courses, while Pluralsight invests a lot of energy in vetting and recruiting teachers for its courses. There are several other competitors in the space, all with some variation on online education.
Like Lynda, Pluralsight charges its customers a monthly or yearly fee to access its content (not per course, as Udemy does), and says it has more than 3,000 courses in its library, created by 600 instructors, and totaling 9,900 hours of content, according to its website.
More focus on the enterprise
Although Pluralsight first started as a consumer-facing product, making its courses available to any professional Joe out there and marketing to him, it eventually started to sell its services to companies as well. Now, with its extra infusion of cash, Pluralsight will dedicate a good chunk of that money to growing its enterprise business.
“A lot of companies around the world are constantly facing this challenge. ‘How do we ramp up our people to get the skills we need them to have?'” said Skonnard.
Through Pluralsight, companies can purchase access for their employees at bulk discounts and digitally manage their employees’ education through Pluralsight. The traditional alternative to this has been to hire a very expensive expert to host a training program at the company, usually costing a small fortune and with mixed results.
But Pluralsight’s biggest challenge right now is to find ways to verify what a student has learned through its courses.
“How do we prove that these individuals have actually learned something?” said Skonnard.
Skonnard said the company is exploring a bunch of possible ways to accomplish this, though he declined to share specifics. Developing these is one of the things the company plans to use its new funds for.
Moreover, the company is also putting a lot more resources into its enterprise product, beefing up analytics, working to get better integration with companies’ systems, and increasing its library of courses.
Lastly, Pluralsight plans to use some of its new funding towards mergers and acquisitions if any opportunities arise, Skonnard said. The company is currently “looking at a few” possible targets, although Skonnard declined to provide more details. Pluralsight has already acquired four companies: Digital-Tutors, Tekpub, TrainSignal, and PeepCode.
Insight Venture Partners led the round, with additional participation from Iconiq Capital and Sorenson Capital.
Pluralsight was founded in 2004 by Keith Sparkjoy, Aaron Skonnard, Bill Williams, and Fritz Onion and is based in Farmington, Utah. The company previously raised $27.5 million.