It’s been nearly a month since Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in an all-cash transaction that valued it at a 50 percent premium. That’s not just a financial merger but clearly strategic. Why? Because Microsoft is placing big bets on the future with LinkedIn’s audience and its own acquisition of Lynda.com,
a channel for learning videos that LinkedIn bought for $1.5 billion in 2015. But enough Wall Street talk. What’s it all mean?
I assert that Microsoft is now competing with
its authorized Microsoft Learning Partners such as New Horizons nhwfd.com and other training vendors such as Bigger Brains. It’s not the first time Microsoft has competed with its channels as such a dynamic is a given with such a large entity. And I’d offer Microsoft, during this week of the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) www.digitalwpc.com in Toronto does better than most (the worst being Oracle). But nonetheless, Microsoft’s assertiveness into a competing training business model hurts one group of partners who can afford it the least, it’s Microsoft Learning Partners.
Here is what I mean. New Horizons is home to well-known and high-profile IAMCP member Tiffany Wallace. She is a marketing executive for one of the regional franchise groups in the US, primary in the south and central areas. We’ve had a chance to catch-up these past few months and I’ve learned just how much training has changed since the in-class delivery of MCSE courses in the late 1990s. Tiffany and her team are pivoting training to fill new needs. So while New Horizon’s still promotes its in-class training offerings, it has online courses, business-related content and even career services. Knowing Tiffany, she’ll spin the hamster wheel faster to adjust to the LinkedIn/Lynda.com competitive threat while adhering to the quality standards that New Horizon’s is known for. You can see its current pivot efforts here. nhwfd.com
Bigger Brains competes more directly with Lynda.com. It’s well-received technical and business videos are similar to the category that Lynda.com came to dominate. It’s directed by long-time MSP and community member Chip Reaves. Bigger Brains fancies itself as building uniquely engaging eLearning courses in a format that often includes humor. I spoke with Reaves on this matter and he shared “I have doubled-down on Office 365 & related training courses (PowerApps, RemoteApps, Azure) and we've redone our production calendar so July & August are going to feature a lot of Google Apps & vendor-agnostic courses instead.” Translation. Reaves is repositioning its portfolio to compete moving forward against the Microsoft/LinkedIn/Lynda.com juggernaut. One tactic it’s using is a new offer for “free stuff” which means you can download two free Office 365 courses here.
And shout out to SQLSoft3 – a well-respected Northwest training organization. Read more about them in this issue in a separate article. It fancies itself a high-quality, lower cost training provider.
So needless to say – Microsoft Learning Partners, attending WPC this week in Toronto, will be asking “Lynda” some tough questions when they see her. LOL!
Appended: In a separate blog at a future date, I’ll explore how Microsoft partnered with the American Council on Education to offer college credit for passing selected certification exams. On the surface, this is great for the customer. But digging deeper, it now has Microsoft competing with a short list of for profit and non-profit colleges