This week LTG (our parent company) announced the formal acceptance of their bid to acquire NetDimensions. Depending on who you are and what you know, this may or may not seem like a big deal, or even a potential threat.
I wanted to quickly, publicly, and officially alleviate any concerns you may have.
When LTG acquired us a little over a year ago, Mike and I made clear that it was crucial to us that Rustici Software be allowed to serve its customers in exactly the way it always has… agnostically. We’ve never recommended amongst our LMS or content providing customers. We just wouldn’t do it, and we won’t do it. And that’s still true today, with full knowledge of the NetDimensions acquisition.
A related story: LTG owns a content authoring platform, gomo learning, which does not use any Rustici products. At the same time, we have provided our SCORM Driver product (which also supports xAPI/cmi5) to Articulate, Adobe, and Dominknow, competitors of gomo’s.
Early in the integration process, we were asked by gomo folks if we could integrate gomo directly into SCORM Cloud as a way to introduce their product to our many users of SCORM Cloud. Doing so almost certainly would have brought some prospects to gomo and increased the revenue of the group as a whole, and could have potentially brought Rustici some referral revenue as well.
We refused. And LTG supported that choice.
(gomo has also been given the freedom not to acquire our software, too, for what it’s worth because they already had a reasonable solution in place.)
This autonomy is crucial to our ability to serve so many of the vendors in the industry, many of whom compete with each other.
If some of the folks at NetDimensions ask my opinion about how and whether they should adopt xAPI, I will certainly offer it, just as I would for any other LMS vendor who calls upon me. If those same people ask me to inform them about another LMS vendor’s plans in this regard, I merely point them to publicly available information. More directly: we will offer our services and products to NetD, and they will have the ability to procure them, just like we would with any other LMS provider.
So, congratulations to LTG and NetD both. It’s an exciting combination for parts of the group, and business as usual for Rustici Software.
We see two distinct ways to innovate learning standards. One is to push the community forward by developing and evangelizing emerging standards. We do this all the time. The other is to create and deploy new approaches around existing standards.
Our SCORM Engine powers content launch for the vast majority of LMSs in the world. Our SCORM Driver is used by all but one of the largest rapid authoring tools and countless content creators.
Today we’re announcing Content Controller. We believe that content providers have been underserved. Limitations imposed by SCORM have discouraged innovation that can help them realize the value of their compelling content.
Many industries have transitioned to “as a Service” models. Software as a Service is quite familiar, and Infrastructure as a Service and Platforms as a Service are well on their way too. In each case, customers are able to leave more of the problems to their providers, and providers are able to iterate much more quickly and proficiently than their customers. Providers are also able to generate long term recurring revenue by this model.
In the elearning world, content has long been deployed physically, as digital assets, from content provider to customer. While this has long been required by SCORM’s architecture, it also created real issues.
LMSs are prone to have duplicate and out of date content.
Customers are liable to use content well beyond its licensed period and/or licensed number of learners.
Content providers are blind not only to the utilization of their content, but to the value of it.
Content Controller addresses all of these issues by allowing the content provider to host their content centrally while deploying it for use by their customers. Built on top of our existing SCORM Dispatch product (meaning this is well vetted), Content Controller circumvents SCORM’s limitations to allow both provider and customer to have what they need. This allows Content Controller customers to offer Content as a Service (CaaS).
Content Controller provides version management, license management, content analytics, and sophisticated equivalencies that allow content owners and their customers to do things they haven’t previously.
I’m really excited about this product personally because I think some of the best creative work in our industry is being done by content providers. This will allow those companies to take proper advantage of their unique abilities. We’ve developed this initial version of Content Controller in conjunction with four customers, and the first of the deployments are live and have already delivered tens of thousands of launches. This is just the beginning.
Welcome to week one of the post-acquisition Rustici Software world. I just thought I’d take a moment here to discuss one of the reasons we agreed to sell Rustici Software to LTG, because it’s not all about the money.
Mike and I were seeking investment funding for Watershed, but we really weren’t on the lookout for anything related to Rustici Software. It was a profitable business, I know very well how to run it, and we have several sets of work that give us cause for optimism. LTG, however, saw the value in both Watershed from an investment point of view and Rustici Software from a market and profitability point of view.
After LTG’s first visit, Mike and I asked ourselves two questions.
- Did we believe that we would be able to maintain our strange and highly-valued culture through an acquisition? Having a place we want to come to work has always been a fundamental requirement for us.
- Did we believe that we would be able to serve our customers in the way we always had?
Throughout the negotiations, due diligence, and these two long days as an LTG company we’ve consistently believed that we could do both of those things and still do. LTG is not an LMS provider like some of our prior suitors have been. We always used to worry that an acquisition of that sort might include aggressive interactions with our customers. With LTG, we’re going to continue to be agnostic, supportive of the standards, and generally the same company we always have been. We’re excited about it, and excited about continuing to support our customers and the industry in general in exactly the same way.
Today, I want to share a piece of news that’s really exciting for us. As of this morning, Rustici Software has been acquired by Learning Technologies Group plc (LTG), a publicly listed learning technologies agency made up of specialist digital learning businesses. As a part of LTG, we’ll have the opportunity to work with the other Group companies in creating the next generation of technically-focused learning solutions.
LTG has a great deal of learning expertise and serves organizations worldwide. LTG’s portfolio includes LEO, a pioneering learning technologies firm, the multi-device authoring tool gomo learning, games with purpose company Preloaded, and Eukleia, an e-learning provider to the financial services sector.
As part of LTG, we’ll continue offering exactly the same services we do today to an ever larger group — not only will we provide our world-class e-learning standards support to LTG companies and their customers but as part of the Group, we’ll also have the platform to reach new global audiences.
For our Rustici Software customers, the story is simple. The very same people will be providing to you the very same services in the same way. Our ability to serve our customers in the way we always have is something we feel really strongly about.
We’re excited to have the opportunity to work with the fine folks at LTG, and to continue to serve the e-learning industry in an even bigger way than before. We’re also excited because we’re spinning off Watershed at the very same time. Watershed will continue to push forward with their exploration of learning analytics and LRSs, and has also received a significant investment from LTG as part of Watershed’s Series A funding round. Mike and I, as CEO of Watershed and CEO of Rustici Software respectively, are both excited about where the two companies are headed.
If you have any questions or need more specific information regarding the acquisition, please let us know. Any inquiries or requests for additional documentation should be sent to email@example.com.
Just having a great product is not enough. Many people forget that exceptional customer support is one of the most important parts of an organization’s ongoing success.
Why? It’s most often the only contact a customer has with your company. Receiving the help they need (while interacting with awesome people) encourages customers to stick around. Further, it reinforces the lifetime value of your products and increases customer loyalty.
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