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Q&A with Sam K - Acquisition Announcement Follow Up

By Sam Kroonenburg  |  December 19, 2019  |   Interviews acquisition   |  

On Monday Dec 16th, we announced the acquisition of Linux Academy. I know this was a big surprise for everybody - our customers, and the staff of both companies! As part of the announcement we provided a high level view of the vision for bringing the companies together, and naturally that leads to a bunch of questions. Today, I want to give some more clarity and answer many of the customer questions we’ve seen out there.

Let me start by reiterating the vision. Ryan and I started A Cloud Guru because we believed there was a better way of helping people learn technology and access new opportunities. We’ve always cared about building training that is engaging, hands-on and focused on helping people put their learnings into practice. Training for technology shouldn’t be boring. It should be as exciting and engaging as the technology itself…you’ll achieve your goals if you are enjoying the learning experience. The best way to do this is to build, get hands on, and have fun (even laugh!)

We’ve always deeply admired Linux Academy’s commitment to hands-on learning. The LA team took it to the next level with their hands-on labs capabilities and integrated training environments. We LOVE this, and love the deep and comprehensive content that Linux Academy have produced.

This acquisition is about growth, and providing even more to customers than we ever have before. It’s not about cost-cutting or taking things away.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Linux Academy Acquisition

What is changing now?

Nothing. Both companies will continue to operate as normal while we work to bring the companies and offerings together. If you have a subscription to either service, you’ll continue to have access to the same great training content, and we will continue updating and building content for both companies.

Is one of the products going away?

No. We still have both the A Cloud Guru product and the Linux Academy product, and now we will also be working to bring the entire catalog together in one place, under the A Cloud Guru brand. If you are a customer of one, we are simply adding more.

Will you combine the two products?

Yes, but not immediately. Keep reading for more info.

What will happen to my favorite content?

Nothing at all -- everything is staying exactly where it is right now. As we combine the platforms, we intend to have a catalogue and learning journey that contains all of the courses, labs and shows from both companies. 

When will you launch a combined platform?

We have very ambitious internal deadlines, because we know that launching a platform that has BOTH A Cloud Guru and Linux Academy combined will be a great win for our customers. We aren’t publicizing timeframes at this point because there is still a lot to work out, and I’d hate to disappoint customers by either moving a deadline, or launching without a platform that we are 100% proud of. But let me assure you, we are moving fast.

What will the combined platform look like?

It will be one platform with all of the A Cloud Guru and Linux Academy content that you know and love, combined into one catalogue. Linux Academy’s labs technology will be fully integrated and baked in throughout the platform, and A Cloud Guru courses will now benefit from being able to drop learners directly into cloud environments, in different scenarios.

Users of the new platform will be able to access all ACG and LA content. It’s going to be awesome!

Are the instructors that I have come to know and love on either side going away?

No. This thesis behind this acquisition has always been about growth and opportunity. We are better together. We love all ACG and Linux Academy instructors. These are our stars, our talent and they are the best at what they do! We want to give them the best support, tools and capabilities to collectively build the IT school of the future, and teach in the way that both ACG and LA customers have loved.

Does this mean Linux Academy will only produce cloud content from now on?

No. We will continue to build content in all of the areas that Linux Academy have been building content, so that students have the full breadth of knowledge to succeed in their careers. This is about having more coverage, not less.

Our philosophy is that cloud is the future, and we want to enable students with the broad range of skill-sets needed to succeed in the cloud. This includes, but is not limited to, training on the actual cloud platforms themselves (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud). There are also a huge range of technologies and approaches that students need to know to succeed in the cloud, and we intend to teach all of these. This includes training for Linux, devops, containers, security and more.

There have been some questions specifically on the Linux content. This will remain a focus. Our Linux content is a hugely important part of the offering.

We are very excited that now our combined teams will join forces. We’ll stop spending time producing some of the same things, but instead will be able to produce more content, across an even broader range of topics!

ACG and LA have different approaches to education, does this mean that one approach will be dropped in favor of the other?

Everybody learns differently, and we recognize that. We know that the community have chosen ACG and LA for different reasons. As a combined platform, we will offer customers BOTH and fit them together in a seamless catalog. We’ll continue to create ACG-style content which enables an effective and engaging on-ramp to cloud with a speed-to-certification-focus, while also building a much broader library of the comprehensive and in-depth Linux Academy-style content, with a hands-on focus.

In fact, Linux Academy’s SVP Content, Terrence Cox, is taking the reigns as the leader of the combined content team, which will be able to produce BOTH the Linux Academy and ACG style content that customers love.

As we come together, the ACG content will be updated with the hands-on-labs technology, so we can drop learners directly into the cloud for an even better hands-on experience. 

What does this mean for Linux Academy’s labs technology?

We LOVE all of Linux Academy’s labs technology, and this was one of the major reasons we wanted to bring the companies together. This technology will be integrated throughout the combined platform, and all content as appropriate. We are investing more resources to grow the teams that build it, so we can continue innovating and pushing the boundaries forward. There’s a lot more to come!

I’m paying for both products now. Do I get both for the price of one?

No - for the immediate future, both platforms will continue operating separately as they always have. This allows us to operate the companies mostly independently (business as usual) while we build the combined platform.

Bringing the platforms together is a major project, so we are focusing a lot of engineering resources to make this happen. Rather than spending time trying to “Frankenstein” two systems together, we are focusing efforts on launching the combined platform. 

Ultimately we believe that bringing the platforms together as fast as possible will be the best thing for our customers.

I am on a Linux Academy grandfathered pricing plan, will I lose it?

No, of course not! Both A Cloud Guru & Linux Academy have been powered by our communities, and we have always supported those who backed us early. If you are an individual user and have a grandfathered price from the early days, nothing will change, you’ll keep the same pricing on the combined platform.

You have been great competitors - does this mean there will be less innovation?

No way. First of all, there’s a ton of competition in the online education market, and we need to drive even harder with a combined team. The exciting thing about this acquisition is that we now get to combine both of our teams as a unified force. We have 400 highly talented staff across the 2 companies, and now instead of spending a lot of time competing against each other and building many of the same things (learning platforms, b2b dashboard, billing, data systems etc), we now get to focus our content, product, and engineering teams on building innovative NEW learning experiences and approaches. Less time on building “the same” and more time on building “what’s next”.

The industry is moving fast, and our customers expect and deserve a lot from us. Combined, we can now deliver more and innovate faster, and we will move at a pace like we never have before!

You have investors. Sounds scary. What does this mean for the company?

First of all, I want to clarify -- both Linux Academy and A Cloud Guru already had investors, and have had for years. We’ve just added one more to the mix. I will lead the combined company and our combined leadership team will continue to make all decisions for the company.

My background is engineering/programming, and until starting A Cloud Guru I had no idea what it was like to work with investors. I can tell you from my personal experience that I’ve found it to be very rewarding. Good investors, like ours, don’t tell founders/management what to do - they advise, guide, and help. They’ve seen hundreds of companies in similar circumstances and give guidance on different approaches and experiences. This is really, really helpful for management teams to make the right decisions and build a great company.

Ultimately, investors want a business to succeed. I’ve always carefully chosen our investors, only accepting those who truly believe in the long term vision and are collaborative in their approach. A board has a culture just like a team does, and we have a great supportive board who believe in the power of high quality education.

The way that a business succeeds is by providing the most value to customers as it possibly can, and valuing its employees. I have worked with our board for years now, and they have been an incredible asset in guiding us in building our offering and teaching the world to cloud.

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