A chat with Pluralsight founder Aaron Skonnard on the global move to sharpen tech skills through online training

Utah has a strong history in the tech industry — Omniture, WordPerfect and Landesk all started there, Pixar co-founder Ed Catmul and Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell both graduated from the University of Utah and several colleges and universities in the area churn out advanced engineering degrees in the hundreds every year.

It’s also starting to become a place known for growing profitable unicorns, including Qualtrics, now worth $2.4 billion; Domo, valued at $2 billion; InsideSales, worth $1.5 billion; and developer training platform Pluralsight, now worth $1.14 billion and listed as one to watch for going public this year.

I sat down with Pluralsight founder Aaron Skonnard to discuss the tech landscape and where he wants to take the company next:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1ltG163E4k&w=738&h=415]

Pluralsight started in 2004 as a training platform for developers, but really started to take off in 2008 when it went into online education. Founder Aaron Skonnard tells me it has nearly doubled every year since, and now teaches more than 6,000 courses on software development and technology skills in more than 150 countries via carefully vetted instructors.

Pluralsight is part of a crop of startups like Lynda or Udemy helping to fulfill a needed skills gap in the marketplace as technology is constantly changing and improving and, as Skonnard points out, there is a serious shortage of people with the technological knowledge needed to keep up. The company teaches skills such as Java, cloud computing and machine learning on a global basis to several Fortune 500 companies and provides not only skills training but adaptive assessments and live online mentoring.

Pluralsight is another one of those Utah enterprise startups that bootstrapped and gained profitability before it started attracting Silicon Valley money nearly a decade after it launched. The startup has so far pulled in $192 million in funding and has snatched up a half dozen startups since 2013.

It’s not clear if Skonnard will take his company public this year, but it looks like it could be ready: It’s profitable and continues to grow. It also seems like a pretty good time to be involved in the online e-learning industry as the market is expected to grow 11 percent and be worth $31 billion by 2020.

Check out the latest interview with Skonnard for more in the video above.

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