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Online learning company Pluralsight spikes in debut on Nasdaq

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Jordan Novet | @jordannovet 3 months ago
Online learning company Pluralsight spikes in debut on Nasdaq

Pluralsight first filed to go public on April 16. On May 7, the company said it estimated it would price shares between $10 and $12 each. And on May 15 Pluralsight upped the range to $12-14 per share. Finally, on May 16, the company announced the $15 pricing, coming in above the high end of the most recent range.

At that price, Pluralsight raised $310.5 million at an implied valuation of around $1.97 billion. Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan acted as the lead book-running managers in the deal.

While anyone can pay to take Pluralsight's courses online, the company focuses on education for many employees inside companies. In its filing to go public Pluralsight said competitors include Alphabet's YouTube, Cornerstone OnDemand and Microsoft's LinkedIn Learning.

Pluralsight offers more than 6,700 courses. At the end of the first quarter the company had 14,830 business customers, and at the end of last year it had more than 695,000 end users. In the first quarter 82 percent of Pluralsight's billings came from business customers.

"Technology is moving faster today than these companies can learn it so that creates a big skills gap around the world," CEO Aaron Skonnard told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" ahead of the opening trade. "We make it possible for them to learn these skills quickly, keep up with that pace of change and thrive in the digital age."

The company maintains an "army of expert authors" around the world to keep courses up to date and relevant, Skonnard said.

"That's what makes our value proposition unique," he said. "No one else can move as quickly as us to provide that skilled training into the enterprise."

The company's losses and revenue widened in the first quarter, with a $23.16 million loss on $49.64 million in revenue, compared with a $9.81 million loss on $37.24 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2017. Around two-thirds of the company's revenue comes from within the U.S.

Pluralsight was founded in 2004 — Skonnard is one of its four founders — and is based in Farmington, Utah. The company had 890 employees on March 31. Investors include Insight Venture Partners, Iconiq Capital and former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Pluralsight is part of a collection of tech companies that have gone public in the past few months. Others include DocuSign, Dropbox, Smartsheet and Zuora.

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—CNBC's Sara Salinas contributed to this report.

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