Tengbo Li and Calvin Yeoh | July 1, 2021
Articulate: Early Pioneer of Digital Learning, Continuing to Define the Horizon
We first met Adam Schwartz, founder and CEO of Articulate, in 2012. At the time, Adam, a former education services executive turned software entrepreneur, was in no hurry to take on external funding, having grown Articulate profitably as a bootstrapped business since inception. Nevertheless, we became enamored with Adam’s product vision and Articulate’s suite of intuitive course authoring eLearning tools. Over the past decade, as Articulate introduced innovative new products, transitioned from on-premise to SaaS, and ascended to category leadership, we frequently checked in with Adam (and clamored to invest!) while he became a close friend to the firm. Today, we at ICONIQ Growth are proud to partner with Adam, company president Lucy Suros, and Articulate as part of a $1.5 billion investment, one of the largest Series A financings in history.
Articulate’s products, including Storyline 360 and Rise 360, are among the most popular and beloved tools in eLearning. Articulate helps Learning & Development (L&D) professionals design dynamic, media-rich courses on any topic, ranging from compliance training to skills development. Given that over 100 million learners have taken courses designed through Articulate, there is a good chance you have interacted with Articulate without realizing it.
Already a mission-critical application for L&D, Articulate became increasingly strategic during the pandemic. As businesses began to onboard and train remote employees, previously in-person training sessions were converted into digital-led, asynchronous formats. Course creation became increasingly decentralized, with line-of-business users beyond L&D and HR taking on responsibility for skills development training for their respective teams. As a result, Articulate saw accelerated adoption across functions ranging from sales to customer success to engineering, buoyed by collaboration features that resonated with users far beyond its initial target market.
Articulate’s deep focus on product has resulted in incredible customer engagement and feedback. As we heard from customers and experienced firsthand when using Articulate to develop ICONIQ’s new hire training, Articulate makes customized, specialized instruction seamless for experienced course designers and novices alike. Adam and his team deeply understand the limitations of traditional, slide-based learning formats and used their insights to develop a suite of over ten tools that enable users to quickly design high-quality, engaging content for both desktop and mobile. One customer we spoke to encapsulated the customer consensus well, calling Articulate the “Swiss Army knife of eLearning.”
These characteristics have created a highly effective growth flywheel. Articulate now counts 106,000 organizations, including all 100 of the Fortune 100, as customers. Articulate’s online user community, E-Learning Heroes, includes nearly a million members and has become the definitive online destination for training professionals.
Despite Articulate’s distinguished history, we believe the company is just at the beginning of another phase of extraordinary growth. The company recently launched Rise.com, a powerful product that unifies course creation, content, and learning management capabilities in one seamless workflow. Sitting atop a vast and growing content library—including a groundbreaking partnership with Next Big Idea Club, curated by Malcom Gladwell, Adam Grant, Susan Cain and Daniel Pink—Rise.com is particularly relevant for small and medium-size businesses, for whom lack of access to premade content often presents a barrier to adoption of course authoring tools. We believe Rise.com will not only unlock more value for current Articulate users but invite into the community new generations of E-Learning Heroes.
We are proud to join General Atlantic and Blackstone in partnering with Adam, Lucy, and the entire Articulate team to further the success of this category-defining and mission-driven company. Welcome and congratulations to Articulate, a two-decade success story with many incredible chapters yet to be written!