(Smarterer’s Dave Balter and Pluralsight’s Aaron Skonnard)
Utah-based Pluralsight, an online training platform for technology professionals, has been on an acquisition spree, scooping up four companies in the past 15 months on the heels of raising a $135 million Series B. On Wednesday, the company added another acquisition to its roster, however: that of Boston skills assessment startup Smarterer — and for $75 million.
See related: Why Is Dave Balter ‘Scared to Death’?
When Smarterer launched out of private beta in June 2011 at Boston’s Web Innovators Group, it had already garnered the support of angel investors Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot, Nicole Stata, founder of Boston Seed Capital, and Joe Caruso, owner of the Bantam Group. Google Ventures soon poured early money into the company, as well.
At the time, Android Co-founder and Google Ventures General Partner Rich Miner said:
Google Ventures is passionate about companies that use data and analytics to solve hard, impactful problems. Smarterer has done just that by creating a simple approach to test and socially share your depth of professional knowledge.
So simple was the approach, Smarterer’s technology has grown capable of expertly validating anyone’s skills in as few as 10 questions and 120 seconds.
At the beginning of 2012, Smarterer hit what co-founder Dave Balter called, “the magic button” and grew by 1,250 percent in one week. The company set its sights on targeting employers rather than job seekers and, within months, passed the 10 million questions-answered mark, raising an additional $1.75 million in the process; that brought its total amount raised in mid-2012 to $3.1 million.
Smarterer moved beyond just verifying skills and into improving them, however, forming partnerships with the likes of online work marketplace Elance along the way to help quantify the skills of 2.8 million freelancers. And in February, the startup launched an enterprise skills assessment solution, dubbed Flock, that changed the name of the game. With that, Smarterer raised another $1.6 million to help companies discover their skill gaps.
Flock enables companies to crowdsource content from experts and top performers internally and create custom skill tests that express the information necessary for an employee to be successful in his or her particular role. Tests can be aligned with training objectives, and even be administered during and after training to ensure desired outcomes are being met, whether among employees, clients, partners, resellers or distributors.
“Change is the only constant today. Employment skills are evolving more rapidly than ever.” — @DaveBalter
To date, Smarterer’s community has answered more than 56 million questions across 1.7 million test sessions.
In a statement, Pluralsight Co-founder and CEO Aaron Skonnard said of the acquisition:
The assessment capability Smarterer provides is invaluable in this tech-reliant era, enabling individuals and companies to measure talent and change in pace with their constantly innovating industries. We are excited to fuel Smarterer’s growth and help establish an industry standard for skill assessments and measurement.
Pluralsight’s previous acquisitions have been focused on expanding the company’s library of now more than 3,500 online video courses for technology professionals. By acquiring the Boston startup, Pluralsight will be able to incorporate Smarterer’s assessments into its subscription-based platform, helping users accurately measure their learning, as well as compare their skill mastery with others who have completed a particular assessment. Results will then be linked to Pluralsight’s library to create data-driven learning paths, enabling the platform to offer course suggestions that will help learners improve their scores overall.
Shared Balter on the acquisition:
Change is the only constant today. Employment skills are evolving more rapidly than ever. We are thrilled to partner with Pluralsight as the momentum heats up in online learning. Together, we can fast-track Smarterer’s trajectory, providing individuals and employers with assessments tools that serve as a respected barometer for skill measurement.
What’s unique is that Smarterer will continue to operate as an autonomous but aligned company, meaning it will still work with talent platforms like Elance and fellow local company Care.com, as well as Fortune 500 companies and other e-learning providers, who need a way to help individuals discover content and prove what they’ve learned.
“People need a credible way to prove their skills and address gaps to remain professionally relevant,” Balter said. “The acquisition is the first step toward creating a more advanced and credible standard for skills measurement across industries.”
Image via Smarterer