18 August 2018

Degreed and Pathgather – It’s as if two good friends just got married. And I hope they give birth to a performance child.

Dani Johnson
Co-founder & Principal Analyst


Dani’s take on the acquisition of Pathgather by Degreed.

I have been a fan of the learning experience platform (LXP) since before the phrase was coined.

My first introduction to the concept was actually by Chris McCarthy, the current CEO of Degreed. He introduced me to a new software that made completely different assumptions about how learning in organizations should occur, and it aligned a lot closer with my own viewpoint than anything I had seen prior. At the time, Degreed was a small, 30-person company who were out to change the world. Based on my recent conversations with them, they’re still out to change the world; they just want to do it faster.

A merger between Degreed and Pathgather certainly accelerates things. Degreed and Pathgather are both top players in the LXP space. Merging their slightly different, but complementary offerings is good for them, but it’s also good for the overall market. The LXP is no longer a fad. The segment will continue to grow as this type of platform becomes less of an oddity. We’re already seeing organizations begin to budget differently, allowing for these types of non-LMS solutions to round out their learning tech stacks.

The fact of this merger confirms several things about the future learning technology market.

  • There is a large appetite for a better development experience. Many of the orgs we talk to that have either adopted an LXP or are considering adopting an LXP do it because their employees are demanding that better experience. A full-on push model where L&D decides how, when, where, and what employees will learn is becoming a thing of the past as organizations move to more open models that allow for more employee control.
  • Degreed, Pathgather, and Cornerstone’s LXP offering have identified skills, not roles, as the building block of the career. This aligns with the general sentiment we’re hearing in companies. A focus on skills allow individuals and companies the ability to pivot more easily to meet external market needs.
  • LXPs send a strong message that all content is not organized into courses. Employees learn everywhere, all the time, and in a lot of different ways. The L&D person’s job has changed from generating content to creating an environment where content can be found, absorbed, and aligned to skills being developed in the org already.

In addition, this merger follows a trend we’re seeing in the marketplace: the convergence of human capital silos. Human capital technologies have, until recently, addressed learning, performance, and careers separately. Even HCM suites have them as different modules and solutions. Lately, that seems to be changing. we’re seeing more performance modules being introduced into learning technologies and vice versa. Organizations are beginning to think more holistically about the tenure and development of their employees.

While Degreed hasn’t come right out and said it, their recent moves put them in a great position to create a holistic solution. They’re already focused on skills and learning; they’re gathering and consolidating information around skills and possible career paths; and with Pathgather, they’ve now got capabilities around goals as well. A solution that provided a holistic way to look at learning, performance, and careers is compelling. More compelling still is the data that would come as a result to that solution, which would enable their customers to make much better and more timely decisions about people.

Is it going to happen? I’m sending positive vibes to the universe. Check back in 9 months and I’ll let you know if I was right.

Written by

Dani Johnson
Dani Johnson

Dani is Co-founder and Principal Analyst for RedThread Research. She has spent the majority of her career writing about, conducting research in, and consulting on human capital practices and technology. Her ideas can be found in publications such as Wall Street Journal, CLO Magazine, HR Magazine, and Employment Relations. Dani holds an MBA and an MS and BS in Mechanical Engineering from BYU.

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