Canvas LMS Maker, Instructure, Appoints New CEO, Steve Daly

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

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

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

Instructure is best known for its Canvas learning management system, which has a large footprint in the US higher education market. It also sells a version of its LMS, Bridge, to enterprise customers, although the future of this business has been the subject of speculation due to disappointing performance. On its website, Instructure claims to have over 5,000 customers in over 70 countries.

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

Daly’s appointment comes shortly after the company laid off more than 150 people, or around 12% of its staff, in late May. These dismissals were first reported by education analyst Phil Hill, who noted that the company has also closed many of its offices outside of its headquarters in Salt Lake City. 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 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 proven track record of buying assets and adding them to their portfolio companies. This is the case with Frontline Education, a provider of K-12 administration software. Frontline has completed three acquisitions since being acquired by Thoma Bravo in August 2017.

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