E-learning content providers will remain prime acquisition targets in 2003 as strategic acquirers seek to round out portfolios and take advantage of bargains, predicts Eduventures in its latest report, “The Education Investor—Year End 2002.” The Boston-based research firm predicts likely target areas will be healthcare, pharmaceutical, and financial services, as well as sales training, regulatory and compliance, and customer relationship management. The strongest acquisition candidates will have found a market niche in a critical product or service dimension, or offer a meaningful vertical or geographic presence. But investment activity in the e-learning content market will otherwise remain flat as investors await second-generation innovations and viable e-learning content models, insists Eduventures.
Meanwhile, 2002 offered few financial highlights for the challenged sector. They included Skillsoft’s US$264 million acquisition of SmartForce—e-learning’s largest publicly announced acquisition—as well as the sector’s largest round of equity financing, KnowledgeNet’s US$17.5 million in Series E expansion funding. The round was more than three times the amount of the median corporate deal last year and was led by e-learning neophyte GM Investment Management Corporation.
Look for more activity in the synchronous platform market following Microsoft’s US$200 million acquisition of Placeware, says Eduventures. “Moreover, Centra’s intention to seek new leadership for the company could also indicate a pending transaction for the business. After bulking up with a fresh round of capital in the fourth quarter of 2002, Interwise will be one to watch as company leaders steer a course for the privately held firm.”
Eduventures notes that the anticipated consolidation of the LMS space failed to occur in 2002, and suggests that this year may prove no different. Interest will be focused more intently on content management solutions that help convert internal resources to online formats that directly impact customer-facing activities. Similarly, companies in this space will receive more attention from potential acquirers than investors, says Eduventures.
For more information regarding Eduventures’s research and advisory services, visit www.eduventures.com.