2U + Trilogy: Vote of confidence in Lifelong Learning (and other thoughts)
A few minutes ago 2U announced the acquisition of Trilogy for more than 6x their 2019 (forward-looking) revenue – a big number. It continues the consolidation started with last month’s announcement that Zovio acquired Fullstack Academy.
It’s the biggest vote so far for the future of “Lifelong Learning”. From Pluralsight ($4B market cap & 50% uptick since May’s IPO) to Thinkful which tripled (in students hired and revenue) in 2017 and again in 2018, there’s (finally) recognition that adults will be learning forever — that ambition doesn’t stop at age 22 and that career development requires skill development. 2U’s 2018Q4 earnings presentation (page 3) is a handy roadmap that almost calls out Trilogy by name.
Some other thoughts:
- This consolidates 2U’s power with Universities. Some 2U schools can now add in-person programs from Trilogy; others may find themselves in a lesser negotiating position as contracts come up for renewal or they consider adding new Continuing Education programs.
- Education policy being written now will open massive mainstream adoption for the next decade, and if done well, the next generation of US workers. Each of government backed student loans for unaccredited programs, ISAs, and states’ Departments of Education are already working to responsibly expand lifelong learning far beyond today’s relatively limited student reach. This is good for anyone with untapped talent yearning for a better, higher paying career. It’s also good news for anyone who wants to work with Universities (2U expects Trilogy to accelerate by a year their $1B revenue target), anyone innovating with ISAs, and anyone who respects regulators at the state level for looking out for students’ interests.