Online technology training service Pluralsight has acquired the Orlando, Fla.-based Code School, which offers dozens of instructional courses and videos for developers both online and via mobile apps. The $36 million deal is Pluralsight’s sixth acquisition in the past 18 months, as it continues its strategy of buying up smaller companies to expand its footprint in the online learning industry, putting it up against competitors like lynda.com and Skillsoft, for example.
Most recently, Pluralsight acquired Boston-based Smarterer for $75 million and Oklahoma City-based Digital-Tutors for $45 million. The acquisitions have helped Pluralsight to grow its online catalog to nearly 4,000 courses.
With the addition of Code School, the company says it will now be able to better reach developers at all stages of their careers, but in particular those who may have limited coding experience or who prefer more hands-on training.
According to Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard, Code School’s focus on new developers was part of the reason why it was interested in the property.
“If you look at the Pluralsight library today, most of the courses target professionals that are fairly experienced,” he says. Many of Pluralsight’s current customers are those who have 10 or even 20 years coding, in fact. “We’re really strong on that end of the spectrum, but what we haven’t been as strong in – because we haven’t focused on it – is the earlier stages of a developer’s career,” says Skonnard.
In addition, the CEO says that when it came time to acquire a “learn-to-code” platform, they decided to seek out Code School because it was “more fun, more engaging, and overall more effective” than others in the space.
The Pluralsight team had also considered Treehouse and Codeacademy. “But the reason we fell in love with Code School was because it’s the perfect hybrid of the other two,” Skonnard notes. That is, Code Academy is more focused on the hands-on coding and Treehouse is more video-focused. Code School, meanwhile, offers a combination of both where users watch a short video segment, stop and practice, then continue.
Code School, officially founded in 2011, first emerged from founder Gregg Pollack’s long-time efforts in developing educational content for developers, which he had begun doing around eight years ago. Originally interested in what was then a still relatively new framework, Ruby on Rails, he began to blog about it, speak about it at conferences, and create videos about it. The content he was creating in his downtime was attracting an audience, which he later realized meant there was a potential business to pursue.
In late 2010, he created a Rails course that combined watching videos and coding in the browser. “Other people had done the coding in the browser thing,” Pollack told us earlier. “But we put it together in a new way.”
At the time of the deal, Code School counted roughly 40,000 users actively learning on its site and had doubled its member base over the past year to 1 million sign-ups. The recently launched mobile application have allowed Code School users to watch and re-watch videos while on-the-go, as a complement to the online learning and code tutorials.
The company claims that 15% of its members used the Code School courses to help them get a promotion or a new job.
The acquisition of Code School follows Pluralsight’s massive $135 million Series B funding round from August 2014, which has helped to fund some of the Salt Lake City-based company’s acquisition efforts. Over 2013 and 2014 combined, Pluralsight has bought companies including PeepCode, Tekpub, TrainSignal, and Digital-Tutors. Combined, all its properties have just over 3 million users, the majority of them paying customers.
To date, Pluralisight has raised $162.5 million in outside funding from Insight Venture Partners, ICONIQ Capital and Sorenson Capital.
To celebrate the latest acquisition, Pluralsight says that those new users who register on the platform beginning tomorrow through January 29 with receive 72 hours of free access to Code School courses through the Pluralsight library, which also includes the Digital-Tutors content. Code School will also publish 10 Pluralsight courses on its site, which will be made available to subscribers.
Going forward, Skonnard says that the plan is to tie the two sites together in order to offer career paths where developers could start out learning to code on Code School, which will remain a separate entity, then graduate up to Pluralsight’s content. Pricing for this is still TBD, however. In addition, Code School may expand into other content beyond coding going in the future, too, including IT-related content plus courses for those looking to develop creative, digital design skills.
Code School, a team of 39, will continue to operate from Orlando.
“I’m most excited about joining Pluralsight because our vision and culture aligns so precisely,” says Pollack. “They have an amazing leadership team, a really bright future, and we’re all really excited to be a part of it.”