We live in an era in which companies grow primarily through acquisition, and what looks like a world of options is just many limbs of the same animal. Here's one more display of what the sausage family looks like.
This journey starts with a simple question-- here at the Institute, the CMO (chief marital officer) pulled out one of her programs from school and asked, "Who are these guys, anyway? I was trying to follow up on them and ended up on some other site entirely," knowing that I'm always interested in these sorts of questions. So stay with me here:
These guys are the creators and publishers of Vocabulary A-Z, a program from the Learning A-Z family of education-flavored products focused on lots of ed techy solutions. They are "an education technology company dedicated to expanding literacy through thoughtfully designed resources," which is good, because wow do I hate those other thoughtlessly designed resources. They focus on the PreK-6 market; the product family includes Reading A-Z, Science A-Z, Writing A-Z, Vocabulary A-Z, Raz-Kids, Raz-Plus, Headsprout and some big collections of materials.
Learning A-Z was founded in 2000 by Robert Holl, who was president of the company for a couple of decades. Holl taught for ten years, then left to get into the publishing biz, working for Addison-Wesley, Scott Foresman Publishing, and the Wright Group. And if Headsprout seems out of place on the list of products, that because they were acquired in 2013 by Learning A-Z; Headsprout itself had been acquired by Mimio, which was purchased by Skyview Capital LLC earlier in that same year. Mimio is still out there, now best known as the Boxlight people and are busy in the interactive whiteboard field.
Meanwhile, in 2004, Learning A-Z was acquired by ProQuest, who also acquired ExploreLearning and Voyager Expanded Learning. But then they sold off most of their content to Cambridge Information Group and changed their name to Voyager Learning Company.
Up a level, we find that the Learning A-Z family of products is actually owned by Lazel Inc. When we start looking at these guys, it gets a bit more complicated because...well, they are based in Tucson, AZ, Robert Holl's home town. But for business purposes they are also based in Dallas (we'll explain why in a moment) and are incorporated in, of course, Delaware (if you wonder why that's common, here's an explainer. Short answer--taxes and very, very friendly court system).
Lazel's treasurer is Barbara Benson, which makes perfect sense because she is the CFO for the next level up.
Cambium Learning Group
Founded in 2003 as Cambium Learning Technologies, it has been a gobbling monster. We'll get back to the list in a bit, but remember Voyager Expanded Learning? They merged with Cambium in 2009, spawning Cambium Learning Group.
Cambium's CEO is John Campbell. A Wharton School graduate, He worked for Commodore (the computer company--oh, C-64, how sweet you were back in the day), tech director for Tribune Media in Chicago back in the late 90s working on the tech strategy for the education publishing subsidiaries, McGraw-Hill (Breakthrough to Literacy was apparently his baby), and then in 2004, became senior VP of ProQuest. From there it was on to COO of Voyager Expanded Learning and then leadership at Cambium. His "about" on LinkedIn tells you where he sees his priorities:Experienced CEO having increased the value of the company by 14.5x in 5 1/2 years. Managed the company from a being a public company to a private company owned by private equity.
Experienced in M&A, having led many successful acquisitions, including Learning A-Z, ExploreLearning, and Time4Learning.
As an ardent change agent and leader serving the education market for over 20 years, Lisa O’Masta brings her passion for education and commitment to effective student outcomes to every organization she serves. As President for Learning A-Z, Lisa works to energize and evolve the market-leading, digital-first organization in service of K-6 students.
We seek to create value by strategically transforming the companies we acquire. Our sector focus and deep expertise are our competitive discriminators and allow us to identify and execute on multiple strategic levers that drive the performance of our investments.