Pluralsight Continues to Grow, Acquires HackHands


Education technology company Pluralsight continues to grow and has acquired its seventh company, HackHands.

HackHands, founded in 2013, offers live mentorship to student programmers via video chat and screen-sharing. To date, it has 300,000 registered users and 3,000 expert mentors.

HackHands currently charges $1 per minute of help and split the revenue with their experts, but Pluralsight will allow the experts to set their price. Eventually, Pluralsight hopes to extend this service beyond programming to all of its topic areas.

Pluralsight, based in Utah and founded in 2004, is an online library of technology and creativity courses, training developers, IT admin, and creative professionals. The materials, which include offerings like how to code in Java and how to use virtualization tools from VMware, are available by monthly or yearly subscription. The company serves 7,500 corporations and 500,000 individuals in 150 countries.

Co-founder and CEO of Pluralsight, Aaron Skonnard, said:

We believe that the way we train, credential and mentor technology professionals is fundamentally changing, and Pluralsight is building an expanded platform where all of these components will be integrated for the long-term benefit of companies and enterprises around the world. We believe in the power of virtual communities and collaboration, and the HackHands acquisition is central to our strategy of democratizing and revolutionizing professional technology training.

We've been looking around at different ways to introduce online mentoring or tutoring to our platform.

When you look at online learning, in general our thesis is that [live help] is a core thing that's missing today. That's why a lot of people out there believe that online education won't work for them, because they're missing that piece.

HackHands chief executive Ed Roman said that the site will continue operating as usual for a few months until it merges with Pluralsight, but "there will be no lapse of service."

BusinessWire quoted Roman:

We're extremely excited to join the Pluralsight family. We see Hackhands as a ‘911' for developers and as a resource that will perfectly complement Pluralsight's existing ecosystem. By infusing online learning with real-time collaboration and mentorship, we'll be able to help increase productivity for technology professionals and businesses across the globe.

In a blog post, Skonnard mentioned that people with special skills can apply now to become mentors.

Pluralsight aims to match LinkedIn in the business of employee training, writes Harrison Weber of Venture Beat. LinkedIn acquired the video-based professional enrichment platform for $1.5 billion in April of this year.

Roman said the acquisition is significant:

This move positions Pluralsight as a credible competitor to LinkedIn. The training platform wars are going to come down between LinkedIn and Pluralsight.

Skonnard agreed:

If you think about the Lynda/LinkedIn combination, this is one of those things that will distinguish us from them over time.

Pluralsight is not only competing against LinkedIn, but against a host of other online learning websites including Udacity, Udemy, and Coursera, writes Kia Kokalitcheva of Fortune.

In the past two years, Pluralsight has acquired $190 million in online education start-ups. Recently, they bought the programming site Code School for $36 million and the workplace skill measurement startup Smarterer for $75 million.

Pluralsight has raised $162.5 million in total funding.

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