As the march of the acquisitions continues, VitalSource and Intrepid are the latest players in the learning technology space to join forces. After spinning off its non-technology services offerings to Xerox (now Conduent) in 2014, Intrepid Learning sold its remaining assets to VitalSource. The deal was announced Dec. 1.

At a time when providers of all stripes are looking to make new inroads – whether it is new geographies, new verticals, or new markets – it makes sense that VitalSource would look to acquire a provider with a strong foothold in corporate learning. VitalSource was already a presence in the academic and publishing realms; and where other providers like Instructure built new corporate facing platforms (Bridge) to complement their academic offerings (Canvas), Vital Source chose to acquire a very robust one that was already carrying a lot of momentum.

The move also reflects an environment where the lines between learning platforms, experience and content are being blurred. The new offerings from Intrepid by VitalSource are Intrepid Learn – the learning experience platform – and Intrepid Discover – the content creation and management engine. This puts VitalSource not only into the heart of the corporate learning market, but also within the emerging sector of learning content experience platforms. And this is really what they are after. According to VitalSource COO Pep Carrera, “Combining our scale in learning content delivery with the Intrepid Learn platform and team, the combined group has the experience and technology to help companies and professional development organizations enhance the scale and effectiveness of their learning programs.”

After a time of relative quiet in learning technology, the past two years has seen a ramp up in acquisitions (is there really any such thing as a merger?). Solution providers have definitely moved from a “build it” to a “buy it” mentality as today’s environment simply does not afford enough time to organically set up shop in new countries or roll out entirely new products. This most recent deal looks promising, as neither company was floundering, desperate for a partner. The scale and capital of VitalSource should allow Intrepid (who, as of right now, has kept all of its current employees) to continue to do what it does, but do it for more people. It can be difficult for companies on one side of the academic/corporate fence to set foot on the other. Rather than trip on the fence on the way over, VitalSource bought a company that already knows its way around the yard.

David Wentworth

Principal Learning Analyst

Brandon Hall Group