Today, Bridgepoint Education floated successfully raising $141.8 million. Look out for the Rossetta Stone IPO within the next few days, raising well over $200 million. These are the only two IPOs this year. Prior to this Grand Canyon floated and raised $144.9 million.
In the UK, LINE Communications have seen splendid growth and announced record results for its 2008 financial year end. The achievement of revenues in excess of £7m (an increase of 40% on 2007), sits on a three year growth period which has seen high levels of planned growth and profitability for the company. In the period January 2006 – December 2008, LINE’s overall growth has exceeded 135%. Kineo have seen similar growth, heading, I believe towards £4 million, not bad for a three year old company with no debt. Futuremedia was bought by Edvantage, showing that there’s some M&A activity. The successful companies are certainly getting offers to be bought, but as they’re growing they’re in no rush to sell.
At a dinner I hosted with 10 UK e-learning CEOs, they all seemed quite bullish, seeing increased sales on the back of the need to cut back on the money squandered on inefficient and ineffective stand-up courses. Their only frustration was the lack of a body that truly represented the growing market. Clive Shepherd has done a great job in getting the E-learning Network back on track, but it’s still small, with no real money to expand. Jack Wills is a real enthusiast and does some great things at BILD, but it’s still too small. Donald Taylor has established Learning technologies as the premier e-learning conference in the UK, as WOLCE has fallen away and seems stuck in the depressing NEC. Laura Overton has made great strides with the Next generation at Work campaign, but it’s only a campaign. Towards maturity is a credible framework, but doesn’t have the clout it needs. E-learning barely figures in the Sector Skills Councils and has little political clout. What’s needed is one entity that has the critical mass and resources to really develop and grow the market.
Back in 2004 in Bristol at HP Labs you made a similar point to an Association for Learning Technology (ALT) meeting, not much has happened since then; and you are not alone in thinking that the "organisations in the e-learning space" is too crowded and complicated - the point is made from time to time by commercial organisations that are members of ALT.
One issue is that several of the membership organisations, including ALT, have both individual and organisational members, even though the processes for representing individual practitioners and organisations are very different. Alongside this some organisations are users of e-learning rather than producers of it; whilst others are both at the same time.
The arguments in favour of rationalisation are strong, partly from the point of view of membership organisations doing a better job on behalf of their members (think how much more effectively the critique of Sector Skills Council silence on e-learning could be made if it was done by one big well argued voice); and partly because there must be scale economies to be had for the membership organisations themselves.
Structured collaboration between membership organisations in the learning technology space, even if not explicitly or implicitly intended to achieve merger seems like a good way forward under all circumstances.
ALT and the eLearning Network are quietly getting on with joint activities on a small scale, for example: we have a membership exchange and we systematically promote each other's activities; we are jointly organising free lunchtime webinars on topics of interest (see the ALT home page); and we produced a joint response to last year's eSkills UK consultation on its 5 year strategy. Maybe we should now be putting greater emphasis on this kind of joint work.
I've responded to the issue of the proliferation of communities and associations in my own posting - http://tinyurl.com/d87ahu
For me the Elearning Network is the most visible body representing the industry, but I suspect it is not very visible to many of the people that really matter - the customers the industry serves, and especially the potential customers we don't yet serve.
I created The E-learning List in no small part becuase I felt there needed to be somewhere for those people to go to find out more about what it all means and what practical steps they can take to get started.
My site is both small, new and of neccessity commercially driven, and I fully recognise its weaknesses - there is so much more I would like to do with it. But I feel strongly that something along these lines is really needed to create a space from which our industry can promote itself to the customer base, and the broader world at large.
Trying not to be too self promotional here - but for more info please visit The E-learning List
I would like to use a short quote from your blog in a book I am writing, but I need a way to send you the publisher's formal request for copyright permission
Can you e-mail me an address I can send it to? (my e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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