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.