We are pleased to announce that DataCamp, the leading online learning platform allowing businesses and individuals to improve their data fluency, is the latest addition to the Spectrum portfolio. In many ways, this deal allows Spectrum to put our investment dollars where our investor mouth has been for some time (proverbially speaking, of course!). We have a long track record of working with great management teams and businesses that prioritize data as a critical means by which to strengthen long-term competitive advantage. We constantly speak of the best companies as being “data driven” in their approach and, in Spectrum parlance, this is meant as the highest form of praise.
Our perspective on how the best companies harness data to drive distinctive growth and operational excellence has come into clear focus over the last several years. As the most dynamic growth companies in our core segments continue to generate an ever-increasing amount of data on all facets of their business, the opportunities to manage, organize and analyze this data are expanding and growing ever more complex. Whether driving to understand product level engagement at the most fundamental level or perhaps uncovering previously unrecognized issues driving a heightened level of customer churn, the answer to the key questions facing our companies nearly always lies in the data. And, our experience tells us one simple truth: the best companies are those that are most adept at interpreting this endless stream of data to extract the most insightful signals. Said differently, the best companies are the most data fluent.
As a firm we have been a broken record on this point. We have guided our companies to invest in better data resources – whether better infrastructure to extract and manage the growing stream of operational data or, more importantly, hire more data scientists or upskill talent to help make sense of what looks on the surface to be data chaos. However, it’s one thing to say this and quite another to put it into daily practice – until now. Enter DataCamp!
DataCamp was founded by CEO Jonathan Cornelissen, CXO Martijn Theuwissen and CTO Dieter De Mesmaeker in 2013 with a simple premise: to provide better dynamic learning resources to address the exploding demand for increased data fluency by businesses and individuals. The demand side of the equation was relatively easy to figure out -- after all, LinkedIn highlights “statistical analysis and data mining” as the second most important skillset companies need in 2018 and reports over 2 million general job queries in data and data science in the last 12 months.
The real alchemy of DataCamp lies with the ingenuity and distinctive attributes of the product platform this remarkable group of highly talented entrepreneurs built to address this market need. The DataCamp platform encompasses a highly unique learning-by-doing product experience which through a combination of short-form instructional videos paired with in-browser coding exercises has students engage with the learning content and prove proficiency as they move sequentially through course materials. Building on its core franchises in popular data science languages R, Python and SQL, DataCamp today has a broad, relevant and quickly expanding course offering which appeals to all levels of expertise and use cases. Whether someone is looking to extend their proficiency beyond a hard-earned data science PhD into a specific advanced skill or simply looking to master pivot tables in Microsoft Excel, DataCamp addresses the near universal need for better data skills. Today the company has over 3.3 million users in 190 countries, 1,000 business customers including the likes of EA, Whole Foods, Uber, Ikea, Airbnb and Kaiser Permanente, 200 expert authored courses, and a thriving online community where resources and perspectives across a full range of data science topics are shared.
We are thrilled to add DataCamp to the Spectrum portfolio and are excited to work with Jonathan, Martijn and Dieter and the rest of the team as we collectively work to deliver on the company’s mission: to make data fluency accessible to millions of people and businesses around the world. Our experience investing in leading online educational companies such as Lynda.com and Teachers Pay Teachers has provided tangible evidence in the power of these platforms to deliver highly effective best-in-class content and deliver real results. We’re excited for the road ahead with DataCamp.
Below we’ve highlighted some additional attributes of our thesis for this investment.
RAPID PACE OF INNOVATION CREATES NEED FOR CONTINUING / LIFE-LONG LEARNING
The pace of innovation in today’s world is unprecedented. While this pace of innovation is creating countless opportunities it also is putting newfound training pressure on the modern employee / workforce - also known as the skills gap. Traditional education institutions are ill-equipped to respond to these rapid changes due to cost and content creation & delivery limitations. Solutions like DataCamp do not have the same restrictions. By offering subscription access to an ever-expanding collection of dynamic and interactive content, DataCamp provides employees and businesses with highly relevant, effective and cost-efficient ways to continue learning.
DATA FLUENCY BECOMING INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT
It’s no secret that the amount of data being created and consumed is growing exponentially. Understanding how to manage, organize and analyze this data is becoming increasingly important across all industries and business lines. Nearly 50% of employees say that its very important to be able to gather, manipulate, analyze and interpret data beyond the capabilities of Excel / Google Sheets and over 60% of employees would be willing to personally invest in education that improves their data literacy. DataCamp’s collection of courses spans a wide variety of subjects (fundamentals to advanced topics) helping individuals learn what is required to be successful in a data driven world.
Importance of Data Literacy to Employees
How important is it to be able to gather, manipulate, analyze and interpret data beyond the capabilities of Excel / Google Sheets (e.g. SQL, R, Python)?
Employees’ Interest in Data Literacy Education
Would you be willing to personally invest in education that could increase your data literacy?
Source: Spectrum Data Literacy Survey. N = 548. Respondents were full-time employees across all industries in the U.S. Excludes any respondents who do not use a computer for their job.
ENGAGING CONTENT DRIVEs BETTER LEARNING
Users demand engaging experiences if their attention is going to be kept. Online education has been plagued by low engagement where users find themselves drifting off during monotonous video content. Furthermore, solitary experiences mean users are left without powerful social motivators to encourage course completion and education sharing. DataCamp is unique in that it provides employees with experiential learning environments where video content is augmented with learn by doing exercises. This results in course completion rates of 60% vs. industry norms of 15%. Furthermore, DataCamp has 3.3 million global users who have the opportunity to interact with each other in the company’s community forums.
Comparison of Course Completion Rates
Source: DataCamp and http://www.katyjordan.com/MOOCproject.html
UNIQUE CONTENT GENERATION CAPABILITIES
The internet has proven that great and expert content can be created by nearly anyone. At the same time, the internet has flooded most popular consumption mediums with so much content it has become increasingly difficult to parse the noise to identify high-quality, expert content. DataCamp’s unique curated marketplace takes advantage of expertise across industry, subject matter and geography while assuring content quality by closely managing who can author courses. Employees who use DataCamp have access to content from the world’s leading experts and the assurance the courses are of the highest quality.
For more information on DataCamp and Spectrum Equity's growth investment, please read the press release.
The specific companies identified above may not represent all of Spectrum’s investments, and no assumptions should be made that any investments identified were or will be profitable. View the complete list of our portfolio companies.