D2L, Major Provider of Learning Management Systems to Schools, Goes Public

Contributing Writer
D2L goes public in Canada

D2L, a Canadian producer of learning management systems, has raised $120 million in an initial public offering that follows a wave of North American education companies looking to capitalize on increased use of digital learning tools by heading to public markets.

The company began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol “DTOL” last week.

D2L plans to use the money raised from its IPO to “strengthen its financial position and pursue its growth strategies,” the company said in a news release.

The company said that as of Aug. 31 it had more than 15 million users, including students, instructors, and administrators, in over 40 countries, according to its IPO prospectus.

Specifically, D2L has a presence in countries that include Canada, the U.S., Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, and Brazil, and is looking to continue expanding globally, along with increasing “the breadth and scope of our platform and our operations,” the company said in the regulatory filing.

“D2L is stepping into its next phase of growth as a public company and extending its global leadership in learning,”  J. Ian Giffen, lead Director of the D2L board, said in a statement.

The company’s main product is its Brightspace LMS, which competes with other platforms such as Blackboard and Canvas. In addition to K-12 schools and districts, D2L sells its LMS to higher education institutions and corporations.

According to its IPO filing, D2L counts more than 150 K-12 schools and districts as part of its customer base, and the segment represents about 20 percent of its revenue. The company’s largest revenue segment is the higher education space, accounting for 60 percent of revenue. D2L’s revenue rose 15 percent to $126.4 million in the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31. Through July 31. of this year, revenue increased about 20 percent.

The move by D2L to enter the public markets is the latest in a series of similar deals by ed-tech firms so far this year.

Some of the biggest ed-tech IPOs this year include PowerSchool, which raised $711 million, earning a valuation of $3.7 billion, and Duolingo, which raised more than $500 million around the same time and was valued at more than $6 billion following its IPO.

In addition, one of D2L’s rivals in the LMS space, Instructure, maker of the management system Canvas, also went public, raising $250 million during its IPO, giving the company a valuation of almost $2.9 billion.

Over the last year many investors have explored options for using special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, to take education companies public. SPACs are shell companies created to acquire or merge with other entities for the purpose of taking a company public. They’ve been around for decades but they’ve drawn a wave of renewed interest recently.

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