Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Thomson Corp exits Learning Market

Life is very busy at the Thomson Corporation these days. Not only have they just completed the sale of their NETg subsidiary to SkillSoft for $270 million, but they have also announced they are selling Higher Education assets of Thomson Learning to a couple of venture funds for $7.75 billion. This now leaves them better funded to pursue growth in "better aligned" to their core operating model. Currently that means acquiring Reuters.

All this is very interesting for Thomson, but shows another big player significantly exiting the learning market place. I remember maybe 10 years ago speculating with Peter Rothstein, then head of Lotus's LearningSpace business, that the big publishers/information companies had a significant potential to engage in and shape the emergent e-learning industry. The sentiment was proved to be right, but the reality wasn't. Certainly the publishers came to the market. But then they floundered, and largely they have gone south.

What does this say about the ability of large companies to make money from the learning industry? Not sure it is a positive message. If large owners of learning content assets such as the educational publishers struggle, then what hope is there for smaller providers? Personally, I think their strategies for developing the market were flawed and therefore likely to struggle, but its still an indictment of the learning market that they couldn't make enough money to stay around!

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