Pluralsight Buys San Francisco Coding Mentorship Site HackHands

Pluralsight, an online learning company focused on high-end programming skills, said today it has acquired HackHands, a San Francisco startup that offers on-demand coding help from technology professionals. The price wasn’t disclosed.

For the past two years, Utah-based Pluralsight has been building up its suite of online resources by acquisition, and now covers basic and advanced programming instruction, skills testing, and online mentorship.

HackHands was founded in 2013 to help everyone from boot camp students to professional developers when they get stuck on a coding project. Users can tap the service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by entering a brief description of their problem. The site matches them up with an expert with the right skills to help find a solution. The company draws on a global network of more than 4,000 developers and other industry experts. Fees start at $1 a minute for the de-bugging consultations, which use chat, text, video, and other means of online collaboration.

“We’re extremely excited to join the Pluralsight family,” said Ed Roman, CEO of HackHands, in a statement about the acquisition. (Roman is pictured above.) “We see HackHands as a ‘911’ for developers and as a resource that will perfectly complement Pluralsight’s existing ecosystem. By infusing online learning with real-time collaboration and mentorship, we’ll be able to help increase productivity for technology professionals and businesses across the globe.”

HackHands says it has sold more than 77,000 minutes of expert time to help more than 1,800 users.

Pluralsight, founded in 2004, chose a specialized niche in the edtech ecosystem by concentrating on online coursework for professional software developers and other IT specialists, rather than novices. But since 2013, it has embarked on an expansion plan, raising nearly $170 million, and completing seven acquisitions, including HackHands. Pluralsight now aims for a soup-to-nuts scope in the education of new generations of workers with the programming skills needed by industry.

The company offers free coding courses for children, and in January acquired Code School, an online smorgasbord of programming courses that introduce students to website creation, HTML, app development, and other skills. In 2014, Pluralsight bought Boston-based Smarterer, a tool that gauges the actual coding prowess of individuals, no matter whether they learned at college or online. Pluralsight itself offers more than 4,000 courses taught by experts.

Pluralsight CEO and co-founder Aaron Skonnard says the company’s strategy is “democratizing and revolutionizing professional technology training.”

“We believe that the way we train, credential, and mentor technology professionals is fundamentally changing, and Pluralsight is building an expanded platform where all of these components will be integrated for the long-term benefit of companies and enterprises around the world,” Skonnard said in a statement about the HackHands purchase.

Bernadette Tansey is Xconomy's San Francisco Editor. You can reach her at btansey@xconomy.com. Follow @Tansey_Xconomy

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