clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Upcoming Pluralsight IPO aims to harvest $228M, grow valuation to $1.5B

FILE - Pluralsight in Farmington on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.
FILE - Pluralsight in Farmington on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.
Ravell Call , Deseret News

FARMINGTON — While news of Utah tech education giant Pluralsight's initial public offering broke in early April, details made public this week indicate the stock sale could generate 228 million new dollars for the company and raise its valuation to $1.5 billion.

The company's expanded S-1 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reflects a plan to make 20.7 million shares available at an initial price in the $10-$12 per share range. While not confirmed, it appears the stock could go live on May 17, per a mildly cryptic media invite that indicates company CEO Aaron Skonnard will be in New York City, and available for interviews, on that date.

Per SEC "quiet time" guidelines, the company is restricted from making media statements ahead of its stock offering and declined a Deseret News request for comment.

Farmington-based Pluralsight was launched by Skonnard and three others in 2004 offering in-person, classroom-based technology classes. After spending four years teaching at locations all over the world, and building a reputation for a high-caliber curriculum, Skonnard and his team recognized that internet tools had finally evolved to the point where they could move their classes online. The digital reboot of the company launched in 2008 with a selection of its 10 most popular classes and has since evolved into an operation that offers almost 7,000 cloud-based courses.

In its filing, the company noted it had over $165 million in revenue last year, up from just over $130 million in 2016 and about $110 million in 2015, and is in a market that has a huge potential for expansion.

"We believe that we have substantial opportunities for growth," the filing reads. According to … Training Industry Inc., global spend on corporate training initiatives was estimated to be $359 billion in 2016. Evans Data Corporation estimates that in 2017, there were over 102 million members of technical teams globally.

"Based in part on this information from Evans Data Corporation, we estimate that our current total addressable market exceeds $24 billion."

While the company has been on a fast-track from a growth perspective, some industry watchers highlighted the cost of that growth in analysis pieces on the stock offering. Generating new customers requires marketing and sales investment, a reality reflected in Pluralsight's loss columns over the past three years that includes red ink of $96.5 million in 2017, $20.6 million in 2016 and $26.4 million in 2015. Pluralsight both details and acknowledges the losses in their filing, noting that it "reflects our substantial investments in the future growth of our business."

Unlike many tech startup financing endeavors that scramble for outside financing before a product is ever developed, Pluralsight has been a company on the opposite track, opting to self-finance, or "bootstrap," its operation for nearly a decade before taking on investors.

Weber State University professor Dave Noack, who teaches entrepreneurship and is also the executive director of the Hall Global Entrepreneurship Center, said after news of the company's IPO came to light in April, that the company's long history and fiscal prudence will likely be seen as strong positives in the eyes of IPO investors.

"Pluralsight has built a reputation for being a hard-working company," Noack said. "Their long run of bootstrapping growth before taking on funding will bode well for them."

Pluralsight has also committed to Utah on numerous levels. Skonnard has taken a forward position in advocating for more robust computer science instruction at every level of Utah's public education system and has rallied other local companies to join him in the effort.

And, while Pluralsight's current headquarters at the Farmington Station complex has become too small to house its entire Utah-based staff, the company announced in February it would keep its operation in the Beehive State and was closing a deal on property in Draper that will play home to a new and much more expansive corporate campus.

The decision to keep the company in Utah was rewarded with a post-performance incentive package from the Governor's Office of Economic Development potentially worth $21.5 million in tax rebates over the next 10 years. The company plans to invest over $370 million in its new digs, hire 2,400 additional employees in the next decade and put over $80 million into the state's corporate, payroll and sales tax coffers.