Vista Equity Partners has agreed to acquire online training company Pluralsight in a $3.5 billion deal that highlights the continuing appeal of the enterprise software sector to private equity firms.

Utah-based Pluralsight, which was founded in 2004, offers a library of more than 7,500 online courses to IT professionals, including developers, operations, data and security. It has 1,700 employees and more than 17,000 customers.

Analysts have been expecting Pluralsight’s billing revenue growth to slow as companies tighten training budgets due to the pandemic. But Vista agreed to pay $20.26 a share for the company, a 25% premium to the average closing price over the past 30 days.

“We have seen firsthand that the demand for skilled software engineers continues to outstrip supply, and we expect this trend to persist as we move into a hybrid online-offline world across all industries and interactions, with business leaders recognizing that technological innovation is critical to business success,” Monti Saroya, senior managing director at Vista, said in a news release.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, “Private-equity firms like Vista were already focused on business-software providers, with their recurring-revenue models, before the pandemic increased interest in companies whose offerings make it easier to reach employees and students remotely.”

In March, Thoma Bravo LP took Instructure Inc., the maker of the Canvas learning management system, private in a roughly $2 billion deal.

Vista, a pioneer in software investing, manages more than $73 billion in assets across multiple strategies. It already owns two other large educational technology firms, PowerSchool and EAB.

“The global Vista ecosystem of leading enterprise software companies provides significant resources and institutional knowledge that will open doors and help fuel our growth,” Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard said. “We’re thrilled that we will be able to leverage Vista’s expertise to further strengthen our market leading position.”

Before going public in May 2018, Pluralsight had raised nearly $200 million in venture capital across three investment rounds, the last of which valued it at more than $1 billion. The company also offers Flow, a data analytics tool for engineers.

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