Pluralsight is the first of Utah’s ‘Silicon Slopes’ high-tech ‘unicorns’ looking to go public

Pluralsight is the first “unicorn” from Utah’s Silicon Slopes cluster of high-tech companies to try to go public.

The company, which produces educational training programs on technical issues for many large corporate clients, quietly announced Tuesday that it had “confidentially submitted” a draft application to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to launch an initial public offering (IPO) and begin selling stock.

“The initial public offering is expected to commence after the SEC completes its review process, subject to market and other conditions,” a company news release said. Pluralsight spokeswoman Maddie Smith declined to elaborate.

That silence is required by the Jobs Act of 2012, according to TechCrunch, an online publisher of technology industry news.

The law enables private companies going public to submit and revise their financial filings in secret, often until just a few weeks before the launch when they are made public. But the law also requires those companies to enter a “quiet period” after the filing and not to speak publicly about it to avoid the appearance of promoting their stock, TechCrunch said.

Rumors have been swirling around Utah’s tech community for months that several Silicon Slopes firms – nicknamed unicorns because of their uniqueness in quickly going from startups to billion-dollar ventures – were on the verge of going public. That allows them to sell stock to attract more investors but also requires them to open up and disclose more information about their financial conditions and prospects.

Domo, Vivint and Qualtrics also have been mentioned as possible candidates to go public.

But Pluralsight is the first to try.

Co-founded in 2004 by Aaron Skonnard, a Brigham Young University computer science graduate who is now its chief executive, Pluralsight supplies online training courses largely for information technology employees and software developers at sizable corporations. Pluralsight said more than half of the companies on the Fortune 500 list use its products “to close the technology skills gap and keep up with the rapid pace of technology change.”

(Al Hartmann | Tribune file photo) Sixth-graders at Layton Elementary School get an introduction to computer programing during an annual Hour of Code from Pluralsight, which has pledged $10 million to computer science education and is looking to expand its horizons by going public.

The confidential filing follows months of high-profile activity for Pluralsight.

Last September, the company committed $10 million to support computer science in Utah’s elementary and secondary schools. In December, Pluralsight announced plans to open an office in Dublin, Ireland. From there, Utahn Mike Featherstone will oversee company operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

A week after that, the company moved to strengthen its board of directors with the addition of Scott Dorsey from High Alpha, which supports companies working in the cloud, and Karenann Terrell, chief digital and technology officer at the healthcare company GSK.

Then, in February, Pluralsight selected 30 acres in Draper as the future site of its 350,000-square-foot headquarters, a building that would allow the company to consolidate current operations that are split between Farmington and South Jordan. The company received a $21.5 million incentive from the state for the expansion, which is expected to boost the firm’s employee count to nearly 2,500.

Construction is scheduled to begin this summer. The land is being leased from The Gardner Co./Staker Co., which will develop the company campus. It is expected to open in late 2019.