Alpine launches education platform, bets big on professional training

The PE firm is launching a new education platform called Axcel. 'Professional education is being reinvented and reimagined as we speak,' says Axcel CEO Jonathan Zeidan.

Alpine Investors later this morning will announce the launch of a professional education platform dubbed Axcel. The platform brings together two new portfolio companies: Michael Management Corp (MMC), a provider of training for SAP enterprise software; and Web Age Solutions, an IT training company. Existing portfolio company Interskill Learning, a provider of online mainframe training, will also come under the Axcel umbrella.

Alpine is investing in Axcel through its AlpineX vehicle, which backs lower middle-market services businesses. PE Hub caught up with Jonathan Zeidan, an operating partner with Alpine who serves as Axcel’s chief executive.

“Professional education is being reinvented and reimagined as we speak. Axcel aspires to be at the heart of that reinvention,” Zeidan said, adding that Axcel has the ability and opportunity “to dramatically influence people’s lives through professional education.”

He said the firm is focused on partnering with businesses that offer training programs that support career growth, career advancement and workforce development. This could be learning new skills or sharpening existing ones.

Jonathan Zeidan, Axcel

Zeidan described both MMC and Web Age as “secret sauce” that makes them “high-quality training partners to their customers and learners.” Web Age was founded in 1999 and offers professional training in a wide range of industries, among them education, aerospace, energy, banking, e-commerce, retail, telecommunication and insurance.

MMC was founded in 2000, and it pioneered interactive online SAP training courses, according to the company. Customers include Fortune 500 companies.

Under the platform, each team operates both independently as well as in an integrated fashion, Zeidan said. “The teams are frequently talking and meeting with each other, tackling key issues and discussing key sales initiatives.”

Axcel is focusing on areas of the market where there is an enduring talent shortage, and areas where there are long-term imbalances between supply and demand for labor or talent, Zeidan said.

“Those are areas where we can have the most impact and touch the most lives,” he noted. “We believe there is this long-term imbalance of talent, and differentiated employees are going to be needed in the future.”

During the pandemic, when most training went virtual, many private equity firms increased their investments in online education. Virtual learning has made it easier and more efficient for many professionals to add new skills and sharpen existing ones. Zeidan said Axcel is looking forward to capturing the shifting job market trends.

“As we considered what happened during the pandemic, we are seeing a lot of folks changing jobs, moving jobs, rethinking how they view their careers, and it confirmed our understanding that talent is everything,” he said.

Axcel has a presence in North America, Europe and Asia. Zeidan expects to grow the platform through both organic and inorganic growth.

“There is an engine behind Axcel that makes us able to drive growth, have access to capital to do additional add-ons, have access to some of the best-in-class recruiting to get the best talent, and have access to sales and marketing experts,” he said. “That is why it is exciting to have conversations with different founders and business owners who want to be part of something a little bigger.”

For more on Alpine’s investments in the education sector, see our previous story on the firm’s recent majority stake in Wilson Language Training.