AppLearn acquired by ambitious American trade buyer

Andrew Avanessian

Manchester-based tech company AppLearn has been acquired by US-firm Nexthink, a digital employee experience (DEX) management software specialist, recently valued at over $1 billion and backed by heavyweight tech investors Permira, Highland Europe and Index Ventures.

AppLearn, based at Central Park in North Manchester, also has offices in Boston and San Francisco, has customers in 100 countries and has created software that integrates with other applications, intuitively learning how users interact with it, known as Digital Adoption Platforms (DAP).

AppLearn chief executive Andrew Avanessian, who joined the business in 2019 and was formerly COO at cyber security company Avecto, told “This is a major North West tech success story. We have created a product led SaaS company worthy of being acquired.

“This is a huge move that will accelerate the power of DEX, and we’re incredibly excited to be part of it. Nexthink are a fantastic company, and we have a shared vision of eliminating digital friction within the workplace.”

Tech analysts Gartner Group value the global DAP market, which AppLearn are a leading player in, at $70bn.

Given the prices paid for SaaS businesses, the valuations based on future revenues, and expectations of venture capital funders who have invested heavily into AppLearn’s DAP capability, one analyst that spoke to estimated the price paid would be “a substantial eight figure sum”, likely to be no less than $50m. 

Over his time with the business Avanessian said he has overseen growth of 108%, but point blank refused to say how much the business was bought for.

In 2022 AppLearn secured funding from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (npif), managed by Maven Capital Partners, which it hoped would propel AppLearn to scale its international reach into new territories such as South Africa.

The largest shareholder in AppLearn was Californian venture investor K1 Capital who described their 2019 investment into the business as “a $25m commitment” as the business geared up fr the “next level of growth”. Like Maven (npif), K1 will be celebrating a major exit from a strategic investment in which it held more than 25%.

In January 2023 the investors backed AppLearn when it completed the acquisition of a Slovakia-based DAP provider, YesElf, for a valuation of £5m.

Avanessian added: “We’ve achieved a lot at AppLearn. If we rewind to 2011, AppLearn was a family-run services business offering digital transformation consultancy. Since then, we’ve received multiple rounds of investment, we’ve transitioned to a product-led model, we’ve acquired another business to accelerate our product capabilities, we’ve secured numerous workplace culture and growth awards, and we’ve been recognized by leading analyst houses. That is something everyone within this business—past and present—should be incredibly proud of.”

Though the last audited accounts to the end of December 2022, and posted on 14 December 2023, reveal that the company made a £4.1m pre-tax loss on total turnover of £3.9m, which represented a revenue growth of 38% on the previous year, the business has been valued on market potential and its complementary product.

Nexthink’s chief executive said the acquisition would give them “the crucial last mile” of the digital experience.

“Nexthink’s vision has consistently aimed to empower IT with full control over the digital employee experience,” said Pedro Bados, co-founder and chief executive of Nexthink.

“While maintaining an incident- free infrastructure is pivotal for employee productivity and satisfaction, the additional capacity to help employees learn, adapt, and extract the utmost value from their applications represents the crucial last mile of the digital experience.”

Nexthink has more than 1,200 customers and is dual headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland and Boston, Massachusetts, with a total of 9 offices worldwide.

GP Bullhound advised AppLearn, alongside law firm Kirkland and Ellis LLP.

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