In among all the cloud, security and mobile tech startups attracting venture funding so far this year, new companies focused on hiring, education and career development are pulling in big bucks.
By our count, based on our 2015 timeline of more than 3 dozen enterprise network & IT tech investments so far, nearly $300 million has been pledged to those companies essentially focused on building and improving the workforce -- and an increasingly technology-based workforce at that.
Most of these companies are just a few years old, though relative graybeard Lynda.com, which organizations (like ours) use to provide employees with online courses, recently scored a tidy $186 million. Lynda.com has been around for 20 years.
The courses I’ve taken on Lynda.com over the years (HTML, Excel, social media techniques, etc.) have generally been chunked up into short-to-medium length videos, plus exercises, and might take a few days to a few weeks to complete. A newcomer targeting those who are hungry to learn -- but have shorter attention spans -- is called Coursmos.
This company was founded in Russia in 2013 and has since moved its headquarters to San Francisco, delivering mobile apps for Apple and Google devices. The company encourages anyone to create and make money off videos through its “micro-learning platform” that supports courses that generally run no longer than 3 minutes.
A Coursmos spokeswoman points to the plethora of online courses from Coursera, Khan Academy, TED and YouTube that so many users start but never finish. While Coursmos began as a business-to-consumer product company, a B2B version is on the way, fueled in part by a fresh $600K in seed funding from Russia’s Altera Capital Group as well as Imperious Group.
“We now have a request from one bank to provide a SaaS solution based on the effectiveness of the micro-format courses,” the Coursmos spokeswoman writes.
Coursmos now has more than $1.2M in seed funding and offers more than 11,000 courses, including lots of tech courses on subjects from Red Hat Enterprise Linux to creating an Android virtual device.
Like Coursmos, a New York-based startup called Grovo is all about “micro-learning,” but in its case, it has already gone aggressively after large enterprises. Grovo has been growing its revenues 20% per month of late, and recently bagged $15 million in Series B funding.
Grovo enables businesses to smarten up their employees by offering 60-90 second videos on everything from IT security to digital etiquette. Customers include Chevron, Pitney Bowes and Six Flags.
CEO Jeff Fernandez wrote recently on the company’s blog that Grovo plans to invest heavily in “engineering, product and content teams. Clients are already experiencing performance and security upgrades and wider content coverage. That said, we intend to continue leading the educational technology industry in R&D…”
While venture dollars are flowing to companies focused on training employees, others are going toward prepping people to enter the workforce. Among these investments is Koru, a Seattle-based company that just garnered $8M to back its intensive in-person and online program for training college students to get hired at high-growth companies like LinkedIn and