Local educational-technology firm fuels growth with two quick acquisitions

In March, London-based Learning Technologies Group announced Indianapolis would be the headquarters of its new learning-management subsidiary, Open LMS, a boost to the city’s already growing educational-technology sector.

Miller

LTG officials this spring named local educational technology industry veteran Phil Miller as managing director of Open LMS and promised some serious growth for the new company here and globally.

Open LMS—which provides online teaching, learning and course-management software based on the open-source Moodle platform—appears to be on the fast track to fulfilling that promise.

This week, publicly traded LTG announced it acquired Baltimore-based eThink Education, one of the largest Moodle providers in the world, for $36 million and placed it under the Open LMS umbrella.

And nine weeks ago, LTG acquired Melbourne-based eCreators, Australia’s largest provider of the Moodle platform, for just under $4.1 million.

The acquisitions were made possible, Miller told IBJ, by $100 million in capital LTG raised in June.

While the company’s progress during the pandemic is impressive, company officials say it could have been better.

“We probably would have moved faster if it wasn’t for the pandemic,” Miller said. “We took a few months to figure out how we were going to navigate the pandemic. At the beginning, no one really knew which way this was going to go.”

While Open LMS will take some time to digest the recent acquisitions, Miller said there are likely more to come in the months ahead.

“We have a lot of work to do to get the two companies that were acquired settled down and organized, so we’re not currently actively looking, but we will be opportunistic,” Miller said.

“I’m really happy with what we’ve done,” Miller added. “I think we’ve acquired the right companies. We could do more acquisitions if the right opportunities present themselves. Long-term, the objective is certainly to continue to grow this operation.”

The Open LMS local employee count has grown from 10 to 15 in recent months, and globally the company has grown from 72 to 140. Open LMS added 40 employees in the eThink acquisition and another 28 in the eCreators acquisition.

With the acquisitions, Open LMS will generate just more than $30 million in revenue this year. Almost two-thirds of that was generated by the original Open LMS.

“In whole, it’s really about scale,” Miller said. “We’re now in a different hemisphere than other companies in our space.”

Open LMS has certainly gotten a boost from the movement to at-home and remote learning on almost every level, from primary and high schools, colleges and universities to corporate training. The most recent acquisition will only fuel that growth, company officials said.

“The pandemic has drastically increased the need for effective online teaching and learning programs for thousands of education institutions and corporations worldwide.” Miller said. “With the integration of eThink, which is a strong business delivering high levels of growth and profitability alongside peerless customer service, we can further support those who need a fully-functional, open-source solution to manage courses and deliver engaging content experiences at anytime and anywhere.”

The acquisition of eCreators will also be a big growth driver, Miller said.

“We think we have truly phenomenal teams,” he said. “eCreators in Australia is very strong in professional development and corporate learning, and that’s a very hot area. The team there has good products and knowledge.”

London-based Learning Technologies Group started Open LMS after buying a division from Washington D.C.-based ed-tech firm Blackboard for $32 million earlier this year. The core of that division is what initially made up the Open LMS company.

The division under Blackboard was given life when Blackboard bought a company, Baltimore-based Moodlerooms, which had an office in Indianapolis.

Under Blackboard, industry insiders, said the division was stagnant. That’s not the case anymore.

“We’re back to growth,” Miller said. “We’re a growing company and we’re going to try to grow in the future even faster.”

And that could mean local hiring.

“We’re going to hire wherever the talent takes us,” Miller said. “There’s a lot of talent here in Indy, so obviously we could add people here. This is just the beginning for Open LMS.”

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