Canvas LMS Maker, Instructure, Appoints New CEO Steve Daly

Jun 16, 2020

Instructure’s stated mission is to help people grow from the first day of school to the last day of work. To continue that effort, the company announced its new CEO, Steve Daly, will start his first day of work on July 1.

Daly will succeed former CEO Dan Goldsmith, who steered what was a publicly-traded company through a protracted and contested sales process to Thoma Bravo—a drama that began in December 2019. Former shareholders had argued that the agreed-upon transaction price—$2 billion—undervalued the company. But through a tender offer, in which the private equity firm directly purchased shares from shareholders, the acquisition was completed on March 23, 2020.

Goldsmith resigned in March as the sales process was underway, and the company has been led by interim CEO Charles Goodman since. Goodman will remain with Instructure as Chair of the Board of Managers.

Instructure is best known for its learning management system Canvas, which has a wide footprint in the U.S. higher education market. It also sells a version of its LMS, Bridge, to corporate customers, although the future of that business has been the subject of speculation due to underwhelming performance. On its website, Instructure claims it has more than 5,000 customers across over 70 countries.

Daly was formerly CEO of LANDESK, an IT and security software firm that was acquired by Thoma Bravo in 2010. (Thoma Bravo then sold it to Clearlake Capital Group in 2017.) According to a statement, Daly more than quintupled LANDESK’s annual revenue, to $500 million, during his tenure.

Daly’s appointment comes shortly after the company laid off more than 150 people—about 12 percent of its staff—in late May. Those layoffs were first reported by education industry analyst Phil Hill, who noted that the company also closed many of its offices outside of its Salt Lake City headquarters. Even before the acquisition, Instructure laid off 100 people in January.

The company currently has about 1,200 employees, according to a spokesperson who said Daly was unavailable for comment.

Layoffs are a common playbook tactic among private equity firms, which have earned their reputation for cutting costs and maximizing profit margins. At the same time, Thoma Bravo also has a track record of purchasing assets and adding them to their portfolio companies. Such is the case for Frontline Education, a provider of K-12 administrative software. Frontline has made three acquisitions since it was bought by Thoma Bravo in August 2017.


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