Instructure Lays Off About 100 As It Urges Shareholders to Support Sale

Edtech Business

Instructure Lays Off About 100 As It Urges Shareholders to Support Sale

By Wade Tyler Millward     Jan 23, 2020

Instructure Lays Off About 100 As It Urges Shareholders to Support Sale

Learning management system provider Instructure has laid off as many as 100 full-time employees as the publicly traded company nears a key shareholder vote on a proposed sale to a private equity firm.

The restructuring primarily affected employees who worked on Instructure’s Bridge product, an LMS tailored to corporate learning. Instructure hoped that this effort would replicate the success of its market-leading Canvas learning management system for colleges. But Bridge’s performance has disappointed Instructure executives. Now, the company wants to accept a $2 billion dollar acquisition offer from Thoma Bravo.

“As our company has evolved and we focus on sustainable growth and innovation to best serve our customers, we have taken the decision to realign the business structure,” according to an Instructure statement on the layoffs. The company still employs about 1,200 people. Some employees who worked on Canvas were also cut.

“This has unfortunately impacted a number of roles within the company,” the statement continues. “These decisions were not easy and we are working with those impacted to aid the transition.”

This week, the company released preliminary quarterly earnings and a presentation to investors that show Instructure still makes money. But it also warned that Canvas’ market saturation in higher education will decelerate future growth.

The company expects to see 17 percent year-over year-organic growth in 2020 for its education division. This is followed by 15 percent growth predicted for 2021, 12 percent in 2022 and 10 percent in 2023, according to a presentation filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Instructure Schedule 14A projected education revenue
Instructure’s projected revenue growth from education business, from Schedule 14A filing

The presentation also counters arguments made by Instructure shareholders opposed to the Thoma Bravo deal. Those shareholders say the deal undervalues the company and suffered from insufficient transparency. The deal needs a majority of shareholders for approval. Investors representing a third of common shares are reportedly likely to vote against the deal.

“We note presentations like this during a buy-out process are highly unusual, in our experience, and speak to the public objections to the merger,” according to a report from investment bank D.A Davidson. “The key claim is that Instructure ran a thorough process and that Instructure would struggle as a standalone company, given the deceleration in the education business.” D.A. Davidson believes the deal undervalues Instructure.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Instructure reported subscription revenue of $63.9 million, an increase of 25 percent over the previous quarter in 2018and billings of $51.4 million, a 34 percent growth year over year. The company ended the quarter with a net cash balance of $116.8 million.

A Raymond James report Wednesday called the Thoma Bravo deal, valued at $2 billion, a “fair offer” for Instructure. At six times the unadjusted calendar year 2020 revenue, that “is in line with recent private equity takeouts.”

The stockholder vote is scheduled for Feb. 13. If passed, the deal should close the next day.

   

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