Plato Learning gets new name: Edmentum

  • Article by: NEAL ST. ANTHONY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 15, 2012 - 12:15 AM

The change reflects a growing product line for the online learning company.

Bloomington-based Plato Learning, the education-software firm that was acquired in 2010, will announce Thursday that it's changing its name to reflect newfound growth and broader online-learning product offerings.

CEO Vin Riera said in an interview Wednesday that Plato, founded 50 years ago within the old Control Data Corp., will change its name to "Edmentum" to reflect its growing "online-learning solutions" focused on 21st century classrooms.

"We have over 1 million students using [the] product every day," Riera said. "Over 65,000 teachers and administrators [from 8,000 school districts and community colleges] log in every day. With acquisitions and a broader customer base, we have an opportunity to significantly grow and expand."

Riera, who joined Plato in 2007, said educators need economical ways to raise student achievement. Today's tech-savvy students use technology to learn at their own pace. Edmentum's programs include PLATO courseware for secondary online courses; Study Island, which provides online instruction and homework support to master core education standards; and EducationCity, an online instruction resource for test preparation and standards mastery.

Plato Learning, once a public company, was acquired in May 2010 for $144 million by private-equity firm Thoma Bravo. Backed by its new owner, Plato last year acquired competitor Archipelago Learning of Dallas for $291 million in cash. Archipelago, founded in 2000 and larger than Plato, is a subscription-based provider of education software in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

In recent years, several private-equity firms have been consolidating the once-fragmented computer-learning industry through acquisitions. Private equity firms take over companies and try to improve their operations and financials, sometimes add and consolidate acquisitions, and then sell them to a larger buyer in the same industry or try to cash out through a public offering of stock.

Riera declined to discuss the future or Edmentum's financial performance. The sales of its two big predecessor companies were about $150 million in 2010.

Plato Learning descended from Control Data's PLATO mainframe computer-based education system of the 1970s. It evolved to programs on disks and CDs and, eventually, to today's online software-and-service model.

The original PLATO -- an acronym for Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations -- was a favorite project of the late Control Data CEO William Norris. In 1989, then-shrinking Control Data sold the PLATO trademark and educational software rights to what became Plato Learning.

Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144 • nstanthony@startribune.com

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