A Cloud Guru’s acquisition marks a maturing of the Aussie ecosystem, but customers have concerns

A Cloud Guru

A Cloud Guru co-founders Sam and Ryan Kroonenburg. Source: Supplied.

Melbourne startup A Cloud Guru is set to be acquired by Utah-based workforce development company Pluralsight, in a deal touted to be one of the biggest in Aussie tech history.

It’s rumoured to be a billion-dollar deal, perhaps marking further maturation of the Aussie startup scene. But while stakeholders may be celebrating, there are questions around whether this is the best move for A Cloud Guru’s customers.

Founded in 2015 by brothers Sam and Ryan Kroonenburg, A Cloud Guru is an interactive, online learning platform designed to help IT professionals re-skill in cloud technology.

The startup raised $46.8 million in 2019, after smashing its early growth goals and opening additional offices in Austin and London.

It was designed to address a “fundamental shift” from on-premise servers to cloud-based platforms, Sam Kroonenburg told SmartCompany at the time.

“Pretty much every company on earth right now has a mandate to move to cloud-based computing,” he explained.

“A really huge skills gap has emerged.”

The value of the acquisition has not been disclosed. However, a report in the Australian Financial Review suggests it could be one of the biggest ever for an Aussie tech company, putting it in the same ballpark as Oracle’s $1.6 billion acquisition of Aconex and KKR’s $2.2 billion purchase of MYOB.

James Cameron, partner at Aussie VC firm AirTree, which participated in A Cloud Guru’s 2019 raise, would not be drawn on the details.

But he did say A Cloud Guru has been “one of the fastest-growing companies we’ve worked with”.

“This is a fantastic result for the team and speaks to the maturing of the Australian ecosystem,” he tells SmartCompany.

“And best of all, I know the team are committed to paying it forward and helping the next generation of Aussie startup founders follow in their footsteps.”

A win-win?

While this seems like a win for the Aussie startup ecosystem, not all of A Cloud Guru’s customers are pleased.

In December 2019, A Cloud Guru acquired one of it’s biggest competitors, Linux Academy.

Today, a LinkedIn post from the startup sharing the acquisition news attracted a string of comments from users expressing their disappointment that three offerings — Linux Academy, A Cloud Guru and Pluralsight — have seemingly become one.

“Lets [sic] be honest less competition means now Pluralsight can charge what they want,” one commenter said.

“I hope A Cloud Guru doesn’t lose its uniqueness and character,” another noted.

Another said they are “sick and tired” of purchasing annual subscriptions to one service, only to be migrated to another.

“Last year I was on Linux Academy. Then Guru. Now a month after renewing I’m on Pluralsight a company I have never liked,” they said.

A Cloud Guru declined to comment regarding these concerns.

However, in a statement on the acquisition, Sam Kroonenburg said he is “excited by the next phase of our mission”.

“A Cloud Guru and Pluralsight were founded to solve the same problem — closing the technology skills gap by democratising access to technical education,” he added.

“Within our shared missions, we’ve taken different but complementary approaches. Both approaches have proven to resonate strongly with customers who want depth and breadth in tech education.”

The deal is expected to close later this year.

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