General Assembly to Be Acquired By Swiss HR Firm for $412.5 Million
Based in Zurich, Switzerland, the Adecco Group is a conglomerate that houses eight brands that provide staffing, recruitment, freelancing and other talent management and human resource services.
In the deal announcement, Adecco’s CEO Alain Dehaze noted:
“Demand for digital skills is growing but supply remains constrained. The rise of automation also creates a critical need to re-skill workers, with as many as 375 million employees globally needing to transition to new roles by 2030. By offering General Assembly’s services alongside the Group’s existing talent development, career transition and professional staffing solutions we will be able to better respond to these client needs, enhancing both access to and the supply of the most in-demand skills.”
Founded in 2011, General Assembly was among the pioneers in offering short-term “bootcamp” programs that promised to prepare novices for programming, design, data science and marketing jobs. The company had raised $119.5 million in venture capital—the last of it in a $70 million Series D round in 2015.
The deal should not come as a shock for education industry watchers, after General Assembly’s CEO Jake Schwartz teased earlier this year that it was exploring sale options. The financial value of this pending acquisition is close to General Assembly’s estimated $425 million valuation.
Schwartz once said that going public was “probably the most logical path” for the company. Yet General Assembly has endured its share of hiccups. In an interview with Entrepreneur, Schwartz acknowledged that the company had been overly aggressive in expanding overseas to countries like Germany. The company also underwent a round of layoffs in 2016.
Still, the company says its business is growing, having booked approximately $100 million in revenue in 2017. It currently operates 20 campuses and claims to have signed more than 33 Fortune 100 clients and 10,000 hiring partners. More than 50,000 students have graduated from its programs; the company adds it is currently serving another 40,000 learners. A company representative told EdSurge via email that General Assembly is currently profitable.
This deal might mark the most significant consolidation that the bootcamp industry has seen to date. Once a field crowded with providers, operators began closing shop in 2017, with Dev Bootcamp among the biggest to shut down after failing to “reach a sustainable business model.”
Other companies gobbled up one another: WeWork acquired Flatiron School and plans to offer coding programs in its co-working spaces. Most recently, Thinkful, an online-only coding bootcamp, acquired its competitor, Bloc.
In its letter, the Adecco Group noted “significant synergies” between General Assembly’s programs and its Lee Hecht Harrison division, which provides career transition and professional development development services for enterprise clients. That aligns with the corporate training services that General Assembly has been increasingly focused on in recent years.
Founded in 1996, the Adecco Group boasts more than 100,00 enterprise customers across the world. It reported €23.6 billion (approximately US $29.1 billion) in revenues in 2017.
The acquisition is expected to close before June this year. Under the terms, Schwartz will continue to lead General Assembly as a division under the Adecco Group. General Assembly currently numbers more than 500 employees who are all expected to have the opportunity to remain with the company.
Author: Tony Wan
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