By Jonathan Shieber
April 16, 2018
The European human resources services company Adecco Group said that is acquiring the New York-based, programming, design, and management training startup General Assembly for $413 million.
With the acquisition, Adecco adds to its ability to provide job training and re-skilling services for businesses. It’s proof that General Assembly’s own business has come a long way since its early days as a startup offering continuing education or training programs for new entrants into the tech-enabled white collar workforce.
General Assembly was worth $440 million after its last, $70 million investment round, according to a report in Axios, which means that early stage investors will see a nice return on their investment while many later stage backers — including Wellington Management and Fresco Capital are looking at some pretty flat returns.
Investors likely popping some corks right now include Alex Ohanian’s Initialized Capital, Maveron, and Bezos Expeditions, the venture capital fund of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (who clearly needs the money).
It’s not an ignominious outcome for General Assembly, which brought in $100 million in 2017, but not the exit that many in the New York tech ecosystem had hoped for.
Over time, General Assembly became less of a consumer facing business and transitioned into one that was serving primarily business clients — which means access to Adecco Group’s over 100,000 businesses is a big boon to the company’s continued expansion plans.
“By offering General Assembly’s services alongside the Group’s existing talent development, career transition and professional staffing solutions we will be able to better respond to… client needs, enhancing both access to and the supply of the most in-demand skills,” said Alain Dehaze, chief executive of the Adecco Group, in a statement.
The company will continue to operate as a separate division and will continue to be led by Jake Schwartz, General Assembly’s founder and chief executive. Schwartz will report to Sergio Picarelli on Adecco’s executive committee.
“General Assembly has always been about creating bridges between education and employment — that’s what has allowed us to scale to 20 campuses, 50,000 alumni, and over 300 Fortune 500 clients,” says Schwartz, in a statement. “As our work with employers has grown, so has our need to connect in a deeper way with the world of human capital, and that is why we are so excited about the transformational opportunities that come with this partnership.”
Adecco has been on a mini-shopping spree lately for venture-backed human resources startups. Earlier this year, the company acquired Vettery in a $100 million deal. That company had developed a marketplace where job candidates could look at offers and schedule interviews with potential employers that interested them — with the potential to receive a signing bonus from Vettery when they took a position.
It’s clear that technology is radically transforming the human resources industry — with new startup companies offering matching, vetting, training, and retraining technologies for employers and job seekers alike.
With these two acquisitions Adecco seems to be pulling the trigger on the starting gun for consolidation in the space. It’s another example of large corporations looking to buy their way into innovation — before they’re overwhelmed by a potential new generation of competitors.
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