Adecco Group, the Swiss recruitment and staffing goliath, has announced an impending $412.5 million (£287 million) acquisition of US technology education company Global Assembly (GA). GA, which was only founded in 2011, is a corporate digital skills educator that runs accelerated learning courses. The company’s focus is modern technology education and it runs courses on knowledge and skills sets in areas such as coding, data science, digital marketing and user experience design. Business skills are also taught.
Programmes take place either on one of General Assembly’s 20 international campuses, online, in client offices or a combination of the three. Courses can also be full or part time and students are a mix of those being put through a programme by their employer or as a personal investment in their own professional skills. General Assembly is one of the most successful start-ups in the technology in education sector and has built impressive proprietary software for online courses. The company’s price point is towards the higher end of the edtech market. A 5 week part-time online course in digital marketing comes in at around £500 and a 3-month full-time online course in web development around £10,000. 2017 revenues came in at around $100 million (£70 million) and Adecco’s statement to announce the deal mentioned a ‘strong 2018 backlog’.
The value of the $412.5 million deal also included General Assembly’s debt and with the company in a high growth phase Adecco anticipates making significant additional investment in the company’s continued development. As such, in the short term, the acquisition is expected to be a drag on overall Adecco Group earnings. However, by 2019 Adecco expects GA to move into profit and in the ‘medium’ term contribute higher than average core earnings (EBITBA) to the Group. General Assembly’s annual compound growth of 30% over the past few years would be expected to accelerate under Adecco’s ownership. Current chief executive and co-founder Jake Schwartz will continue in his role with GA operating as a stand-alone division within the group.
Adecco sees education and training as a key division to the group’s future success. Technology and digital skills education is considered to be of particular importance. The group already has companies such as its Lee Hecht Harrison career transition business that it believes the GA acquisition will offer synergies to.
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