The Learning Management System market is a wild and wooly place — relatively speaking, of course. “LMSes,” as they are known, are software applications and platforms that allow educational institutions and businesses to deliver courses, training, content and, really, manage every aspect of the learning process. Over time, the market has bifurcated, with one side catering to corporate clients with online training software and continuing education services, with the other targeting those institutions of higher book larnin’ and such.
On the education side, the market has traditionally been dominated by players like Blackboard, Moodle, Pearson and Sakai. If you graduated from college (or grad school) in the last 10 to 15 years, chances are you used one of these platforms, or some awful hybrid, proprietary system or combination thereof. Over time, however, the incumbents in educational LMS space, broadly speaking, have come to know embattled relationships with their users, and have seen lagging growth as a result.
Utah-based Instructure launched Canvas in 2011 to capitalize on this opportunity (along with the new audience emerging as a result of the crazy growth in online education) and give colleges and universities a more flexible, open-source alternative. And, if the company’s news today serves as any indication, it’s been working, as Instructure announced this morning that it has raised a hefty $30 million in series D financing.
The new round, which brings the startup’s total investment to $50 million, was led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from the company’s existing investors, including EPIC Ventures and Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures. As a result of the round, Bessemer partner and former IBM exec Byron Deeter will join Instructure’s board of directors. The sizable funding is the first signal that Instructure is now on a collision course with the public markets, a sentiment that was echoed by Instructure CFO Steve Kaminsky in the company’s statement today.