Tuesday, March 01, 2011

LMS for Sale - But Probably Not D2L

An LMS company with a code name of LPO Co. is for sale, according to the Wavepoint website. I'm pretty sure that it's not the London Philharmonic Orchestra LMS, and I'm also pretty sure that it isn't Desire2Learn.

There are always rumors (okay, often, not always) about whether D2L owners are going to take the money and run. At first blush, I think it's pretty easy to see why some people might jump to the conclusion that D2L is the unnamed company on this website, based on some of the sales info related to the mystery company, such as:

  • "a private North American based technology firm" (notice they don't say a U.S. company, so Canada comes to mind, and D2L is privately held).
  • "a leading provider of Learning Management System (LMS) technology with prestigious clients" (D2L is generally considered to be the #2 LMS company (at least size-wise) and all of their user base considers themselves to be prestigious, of course).
  • " Since 2001, LPO Co. has had on average an annual growth rate of 40%" (that sounds like a lot of growth, which D2L has had, and sounds like about the right year for that growth to have started).
  • "expand their markets internationally with offices now established in 3 other countries" (yep, D2L has offices in Canada, the U.S., and Australia)
  • "one of the fastest growing companies in North America in the learning management sector" (that statement probably applies to D2L)
  • "has developed an award winning learning management system" (yes, but everybody can win an award these days, doesn't make you special).
  • "Proven scalable and robust solutions – deployed in some of the largest global networks" (well, D2L is deployed in some of the largest higher ed installations - not sure if that means the same thing).
  • "Adherence to AICC, SCORM and IMS standards" (although just about anybody can say that sort of thing, apparently)
I'm guessing that many people look at some of those statements and immediately think of D2L. I'm also guessing that they're wrong about that. Here's why I don't think D2L is disguised as LPO Co.
  • Just on general principles. I don't think D2L would be shopping itself in this manner. Doesn't make sense and probably not a good strategy to attract the right buyer.
  • Just playing the odds - as Wavepoint says, the LMS market is "made up of more than 60 different providers." Chances are good that it is someone else (but who?).
  • "has developed partnerships with a number of internationally recognized technology and HR companies that act as resellers." To my knowledge, nobody is a reseller of D2L.
  • "Approximately 4 million registered users of its learning management system." This one should be pretty easy to verify, but I think they have a much larger user base than 4 million. There are 400,000+ user accounts just within Minnesota.
  • All of us in higher ed tend to think about the LMS market of consisting of the 6-8 companies who tend to have the market cornered in higher ed. This listing sounds like one of those corporate training LMS solutions - there are many out there, but most of us don't know much about them.
Rather than add to this list right now (heading into a meeting) - how about a little crowd-sourcing in the comments for this post? Why do you believe or not believe that LPO equals D2L?

Photo (CC-by) Marcin Wichary

20 comments:

Goamick said...

I am not thinking it is D2L. I thought they are in four countries, your list did not include the UK. (?) None of the info indicates if the company for sale has an education or cooperate focus. As you mention in your post, there are many LMSes on the cooperate side, could be one of those. (?)

Anonymous said...

Obviously it's D2L. Small market, very few "real" players. Process of elimination. Duh.

Anonymous said...

it's NOT d2l because I know who it is.

Deborah Veness said...

It might be D2L (I wouldn't be putting money on that, but never say never). However, I suspect Barry is right to suggest that it is one of the corporate LMS vendors. They aren't what we in the university world call LMSs, but that's what they call themselves. These are the systems that industry uses to deliver and track industry-based vocational training programs. Frequently they co-exist or are part of an HR enterprise system. There are many more of those than there are of the university-style LMS vendors that we know and love ...

ArpTrapper said...

"it's NOT d2l because I know who it is" is a logical fallacy. K, so who is it then? Should be easy enough to confirm.

Anonymous said...

Definitely not D2L.

kylemackie said...

This is fun. I'll guess Saba. What do I win if I'm right?

Craig Weiss said...

This has been on the market since late October/early November.

Their revenue numbers that they listed in the previous year was 5.9M, so it is a small to low mid size vendor.

Barry Dahl said...

@kylemackie - I thought you never win anything - why would this be any different?

@Craig - not trying to quibble, but the listing says they earned $5.9M, which should means $5.9M in profit, not revenue. Revenues - Expenses = Profits.
If it was D2L, that would mean that the core owners earned a profit of $5.9M after everything is covered, which probably wouldn't be too bad - but I'm not sure that they would agree.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,

I can confirm it is definitely not D2L. But please do keep trying to figure it out... I think I know.

John Baker

olaf said...

@Craig - why do you think it's been on the market since November?

Kendall said...

All these people who say "it's definitely NOT D2L" are full of it. The only people who know it's NOT D2L are the Board of Directors of D2L and maybe their CFO. If you merely work for D2L, you must know that you have no idea what's going on in the Board Room.
And if you think it's someone else, name the company, and it should be trivial to verify if there is a close match.
Until someone names another reasonable candidate, the only candidate is obviously D2L.

Oh, and that anonymous post that says he's John Baker - either login with a real account or call Barry up and confirm your identity.

John Baker said...

To help answer Kendall's concern, that was me posting the comment above. I didn't have an openID to use and it was a quick post from my blackberry so i didn't bother signing in.

Pat said...

There are only two choices here; either it's D2L or it's not. in this comment I'll say it's definitely not D2L...No wait, it is D2L... then again it might not be. The real irony here is that Barry probably started all this just to see what response he'd get. Why don't we form a company, buy whatever it is and compete with the others? Maybe we could get the other LMS providers to pay us not to compete? Barry, are you laughing yet?
Seriously, I did enjoy reading all the comments.
Pat Pezzelle
Pat Pezzelle

Kendall said...

@John Baker - sorry buddy, but until you call take 2 minutes to call up Barry and confirm your identity with him, and have him post that he talked to you, I'm afraid that you're just an anonymous person that is using John Baker's name.

Because if you are the real John Baker, man, you better confirm with Barry, because it seems super clear that D2L is looking to sell itself.

@Barry, I'm assuming you'd be more than happy to talk with the real John Baker and get him on record as to whether or not they are this LMS company for sale. Have you tried to reach D2L for comment?

Barry Dahl said...

I can confirm that it is the Real John Baker who has posted comments here, and also confirm that I have talked with him, and further confirm that the LMS company described in the "for sale" ad is NOT D2L.

It's been fun speculation, but it's not them.

Anonymous said...

I hate to disappoint everyone but Wavepoint also does business development as well as traditional M&A. If you read the actual Wavepoint Client overview it says “Partner” not “Sale” or “Purchase”. Also it starts with “Our client, a private North American based technology firm, code named LPO Co., who is a leading provider of Learning Management System (LMS) technology with prestigious clients, is seeking strategic alternatives to expand its global offering.”

Just my 2 cents...

Anonymous said...

Would the real John Baker please stand up, please stand up, please stand up.

Anonymous said...

I know they don't disclose numbers, but I suspect that D2L is well above $5.9M in revenue. (Wavepoint would be dumb to just sell only on the strength of profit, not revenue).
I'm betting Moodlerooms or rSmart. Both are in a little bit over their heads and seem to be poorly managed. Both seem to have a lot of untapped market potential which would make them attractive to a buyer/partner.
I'd be surprised if Moodlerooms did $5.9M in 2009, though. I know less about rSmart.(and even less about corporate LMSs).

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