On August 5th, I wrote,
Assuming [new Instructure President Dan Goldsmith's] trial period goes well, I think it likely that he will be promoted to the top job within 9 months. The reason I pick this time frame is anything too close to InstructureCon 2019 poses the danger of being a distraction during the most important event of the year for the company.
Today at 4:00 PM ET, the company announced,
Instructure, Inc.(NYSE: INST), a leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology company in education, learning, and employee development, today announced that the Board of Directors has appointed Instructure President, Dan Goldsmith, as Chief Executive Officer, effective January 1, 2019. On that date, Josh Coates will transition from his role as CEO to Executive Chairman of the Board. Goldsmith has also been appointed to the Board.
So the transition actually happened a little less than three months after Mr. Goldsmith's Big Top début. Instructure is not wasting any time.
In my original post, I wrote about Dan's coming on board as part of a larger set of changes that the company is going through. I referred to the company as entering "those awkward teenage years" because it is in the beginning of a transition to becoming something else:
Instructure's unbelievably long age of innocence may finally be coming to an end. That doesn't mean that it is going to fail or to become the next EdTech company that everybody hates. It does mean that it is beginning to go through some changes, that some of those changes will be awkward and hard, and that the company will eventually grow up to become somewhat different than it has been. Not necessarily better or worse. But necessarily different.
We tend to write a lot about the short to medium term changes—the "adolescence" in this case—because one of our primary audiences is the group of folks at colleges and universities who may see changes in the behavior of a vendor that they depend on and need to understand the drivers behind those changes in order to make good decisions for their institutions. And those changes, in turn, are at least partially driven by finance and markets and other business stuff. As I write this post, we are less than an hour away from Instructure's quarterly earnings call. Many of the people listening to that call are concerned, not because the company is in financial free fall, but because it might not grow as quickly in the next couple of years—or even in the next couple of months—as it has in the past.
The pathology of investor short-term thinking is, unfortunately, part of what university folks need to understand in order to understand the behavior of these companies. That said, while we're going to continue writing about the short and medium term, Phil and I are going to take a step back from the serpent-eating-its-tail obsession with quarterly performance and write some pieces about the long-term prospects for the LMS, both as a product category and as business. Neither of those aspects are a static as they appear to be. In fact, while some of the behaviors of the various providers are motivated by those short-term demands of the markets, others have to do with tectonic shifts that aren't yet obvious but may be far more consequential in the long run. The LMS continues to have a future, and it's a surprisingly interesting one in some ways. We'll have more to say about it in the coming weeks.
Watch this space.