Cornerstone Captures the Learning Market
‘Tis the season for M&A! As happens from time to time in the HCM market, we seem to be riding a wave of major mergers and acquisitions. Last week came the announcement of the merger of Kronos and Ultimate, two very large organizations with complementary product sets. This week, with its $1.395B acquisition of Saba, Cornerstone OnDemand has made a major move to consolidate the talent management market, with a strong learning bent.
I have long said that history matters. A company’s origin is highly relevant because it tends to color its DNA. This is neither good nor bad—it’s just a fact. So it’s important to know this history when selecting a vendor. Cornerstone has a long and illustrious history, beginning with its birth as a learning company. While it has grown, often through acquisition, learning has remained at the core of Cornerstone’s DNA. Its October 2014 acquisition of the assessment and data company Evolv, and its January 2020 acquisition of the AI company Clustree particularly have shown their thinking about how learning can impact organizations. With Saba’s strong position in learning-driven talent management, Cornerstone seems to be working to corner this position in the market.
Cornerstone defines success as people development, and they specialize in using performance and learning data to prescribe personalized learning. The Saba acquisition vastly increases the user base to which Cornerstone has access. With a combined 75 million users from approximately 7,000 organizations, the new company will also be one of the largest cloud-based software providers in the world. This user base will help them continue to personalize learning, and make them what CEO Adam Miller described as the “largest talent management specialist” in the world.
I’ve followed Cornerstone for over a decade, and Miller’s steadfast commitment to the Street and delivering solid fiscal results should comfort investors as the new organization balances growth with consolidation. Miller and his team also have extensive experience integrating acquisitions, and are bringing on current Saba CEO Phil Saunders as COO of the new company. The merger will also enable Cornerstone to double-down on innovation, with the infusion of expanded global engineering talent. Mark Goldin, long-time Cornerstone CTO is, I believe, one of the best talent leaders in the HCM business, and I look forward to discussing his plans for his new team in the near future.
I’m sure this is not the end of M&A for this year, so buckle up and stay tuned.