Wednesday, October 04, 2006

FOR SALE: Learning2.0 system - NUVVO

The founders of Nuvvo have called it quits.  See details here.
Techcrunch talks more about it here
On a personal note, I believe very strongly in what all of the Web2.0 Learning companies are trying to do.  However, everything about "the new web" is about Learning.  And while I applaud every effort in this space I'm not sure how to monetize the learning function in the commercial market.  I don't have any idea. 

Google is held up as the single greatest learning tool that ever existed (here).  Wikipedia is a wealth of knowledge...good, and accurate knowledge despite what the reports say.  Open Source wikis and blogs are becoming internal goldmines of information...especially since they are on servers in a format that internal search systems can crawl and index. 

Of course, I'm speaking from experience inside a giant corporation, and many of the web2.0 learning apps are focused on supporting small and medium sized companies.  So perhaps there is a market, and perhaps there is a business model that works.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the guys that are still out there fighting the good fight.


Anonymous said...

Brett - Nuvvo’s sale may also reflect some realities of the e-learning market as well as some of the mistakes Savvica may have made in themselves.

To our eyes, Nuvvo made an interesting splash with an innovative service which was nicely packaged, but like many web start-ups, underestimated the time and cost to build a robust pipeline of business, and the costs to establish an e-brand. Whilst selling a paid service is always an issue with open source alternatives may have been an issue, I doubt it was as significant as being portrayed. After all, only a small proportion of the cost of e-learning relates to the platform, it just happens to be a visible amount.

The e-learning market has proved to be a graveyard for many organisations over the past few years, I am sure there will be more!


Wendy said...

Brent - I too wonder if there is a model for monetizing good karma.

You have probably already been exposed to this line of thought from Confused of Calcutta on Doc Searles' "Because Effect." I'm still wondering if this notion is a pipe-dream. Hope not.

Harold Jarche said...

My understanding of Nuvvo's business model was that they were providing space for online courses. Yes, it was ajax heavy and had a neat look and feel, but it was similar to Blackboard's free offering of course spaces to profs several years back.

Essentially, Nuvvo was offering shiny buggy whips to automobile drivers. The problem is that the course online model is doomed. Courses wrapped in boxes don't work in an internetworked world with internetworked learners. An examle of a model that works is Flickr selling pro subscriptions to some of its members. Maybe there's something like this in the learning field, but a lot of learning offerings are subsidized by governments, so you have to be unique and targeted.

If you want to monetize learning, then you have to a) figure out what learners want and are willing to pay for, or b) figure out what employers want and are willing to pay for. Simple, yet complex.

Jesse Ezell said...

"3/4 core members have already landed awesome jobs. I haven’t announced it yet, but I will be starting at one of the hottest startups in San Francisco later this week as a co-founder."

The core people jumping ship before the sale tells you something.

Anonymous said...

Hi All! I'm one of the Nuvvo founders.

@Brent: Thanks for the coverage. We are hoping that Nuvvo can find a new home where it could enjoy a brighter future--posts like this help. (Right now, we have no plans to shut it down, but we also won't be developing it any further.)

@David Wilson: Your comment is an accurate assessment I think. Hopefully Nuvvo will find a new home and continue to prove out this 'low-end disruptor' strategy.

@Wendy: Funny you should mention Confused of Calcutta! Its one of my favourite blogs, though sometime's JP is too prolific with his posts and I can't keep up. I had the pleasure of meeting JP in San Fran a couple months ago--great guy. Also, I'm a big Doc Searls fan: long-time Linux Journal subscriber, and a Cluetrain fan.

@Harold: We felt our business model was unique. I get your point: the whole of the Internet is a learning platform. But in our experience, there is still a need for instructor-lead, structured education. What makes Nuvvo's business model unique is that it is designed for individuals & small business, a market that has never been addressed before. This is all made posible by the miracles of cheap storage, bandwidth, and development costs. As a long-term strategy, it is a textbook "low-end disruptor". (See the book "The Innovator's Solution" by Christensen & Raynor.)

@Jesse: Yes, we are 'jumping ship' because we've tried our best and brought it as far as we can. Hopefully someone can pick it up and take it from here. (So far the response has been a bit overwhelming. We are delighted by the response.) We will not abandon our users though, we will keep the service online regardless.

Thanks for all the comments and interest... this is exciting.

Yours kindly,

John Philip Green
Nuvvo CTO and Co-founder

Anonymous said...

I think there is room for both commercial and open source solutions in this space. I think it is unfortunate that Nuvvo didn't make it. I agree with what the founder said above about Christensen's work. They really were a disruptive solution and will be for the company, or person, that acquires them.

As far as making it work, I think you have to be innovative and provide a strong service, at an affordable price, to people who need it. We offer a commercial LMS ( service that institutions and businesses find affordable and useful, because we do the grunt work that they do not want to do and we have a pragmatic and intutitive interface. Granted, we are still a very young company, but the future looks bright (of course that might be my optimistic entrepreneurial outlook), but time will tell.

Jesse Ezell said...

You would think that the founders might want to stay on board and help transition to the new ownership. How is the transition supposed to go smoothly and keep the original vision going when the core jumps ship? Saying you've taken an LMS "as far as you can" is clearly the marketing speak. When your LMS has gone as far as you can take it, but it doesn't even support SCORM yet... I doubt it's gone as far as you can take it :). There is lots of room for innovation in the LMS space, so it's sad that the founders of one of those companies that I would view as innovators in the space are leaving.

Harold Jarche said...

Have to agree with Jesse's comments here. Also, I don't see Nuvvo as a low end disruptor, but more of a business model targeted at the non-consumer (yes, I've read Christensen's books). There was a reason that individuals and small businesses were non-consumers before Nuvvo launched, and it wasn't just price. Nuvvo's offering did not appeal to enough of these non-consumers, so Nuvvo couldn't make enough money.

Again, I think that courses online don't appeal to most small businesses or individuals. These people have to be pragmatic and have never bought into the concept of training for training's sake. They want practical tools that help them do something that they value.

mark vernon said...

I would be interested in taking Nuvvo further by purchasing it, however the price has to be reasonable..:-)

My main business ( offers over 50,000 tutorials for software training at a low monthly cost, but we are also working on a few different products - We will be launching a full fledged SCORM compliant open source competitor to Moodle early next year, but we are also working on a couple of different flavour learning sites - one for schools, parents and schoolchildren, where we will be offering educational content as well as management etc, and the other is aimed at individuals and small business, where VTC is creating business and finance tutorials - on both these sites, we will encourage user created content. The business site has not yet been started, so this is an ideal fit for us to take over Nuvvo.
We develop in PHP, Flash and Ruby on Rails so taking this project on is not too much hassle for our developers, and if the site has a big enough following, it may be worth us taking the name on..we don't have a name yet for the Open Source LCMS, but Nuvvo sounds good!

Anonymous said...

How about --