SuccessFactors Buys Learning Provider Plateau; Reports Financials

In a deal valued at $290 million, talent management systems provider SuccessFactors will acquire privately-held Plateau, one of the leading learning systems providers in the world. The deal was announced today.

The acquisition follows the purchase of Jambok last month. The startup, a “mobile video and social learning technology” provider, broadened the business collaboration tools that SuccessFactors has been promoting as part of its human capital management offerings, which it brands as business execution software.

Today’s acquisition, the largest the publicly-traded SuccessFactors has ever made, is a powerful addition to the company’s product lineup. Learning has been a weak link in an otherwise strong talent management lineup. Adding Plateau’s enterprise LMS capability now gives SuccessFactors an extensive end-to-end suite.

Once it completes the integration, SuccessFactors will have a lineup rivaling that of competitor Taleo, which bought Learn.com last year to strengthen its learning system and enhance its talent management product suite.

Taleo, publicly held like SuccessFactors, has been busy buying up companies in the last few years in a quest to expand and improve its products and establish itself as the leading soup-to-nuts provider in the human capital space. Among its purchases in the last few years have been Vurv, JobFlash (an IVR provider), talent acquisition tech provider Cytiva, and World Wide Compensation.

Not to be outdone, SuccessFactors bought workforce analytics firm Inform Business Impact a year ago, and Danish analytics company YouCalc last fall. It also bought CubeTree, maker of business collaboration tools, last year for what could turn out to be $50 million.

In a blog post when Taleo bought Learn.com, analyst and consultant Josh Bersin detailed three positive impacts from the deal:

  • “The acquisition will accelerate the trend toward market consolidation.”
  • “This move will expand the size of the LMS market itself.”
  • “This move will accelerate the market demand for integrated people management systems.”

Now, in the press release announcing the acquisition, Bersin is quoted saying, “SuccessFactors’ acquisition of Plateau brings together the market share leader in talent management with one of the market leaders in learning management to create a global powerhouse in end-to-end talent management software.”

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The deal — $145 million in cash and $145 million in stock — is expected to close this summer.

In addition to announcing the purchase, SucessFactors also released its 1st quarter financial report. The company reported earning 1 cent a share, beating analysts’ estimates that it would break even. For the same quarter in 2010, the company lost $3.7 million or 5 cents a share. It also offered second quarter estimates of $69-$70 million in revenue, about $4 million more than analysts estimated, and said it expected to break-even.

About the Author

John Zappe is contributing editor of ERE.net, and the former editor of the now closed Fordyce Letter. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. 

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

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