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EX-32.1 - EX-32.1 SECTION 906 CERTIFICATION OF CEO - SKILLSOFT PUBLIC LIMITED COex32-1.htm
EX-31.1 - EX-31.1 SECTION 302 CERTIFICATION OF CEO - SKILLSOFT PUBLIC LIMITED COex31-1.htm
EX-21.1 - EX-21.1 LIST OF SIGNIFICANT SUBSIDAIARIES - SKILLSOFT PUBLIC LIMITED COex21-1.htm
EX-23.1 - EX-23.1 CONSENT OF ERNST & YOUNG LLP - SKILLSOFT PUBLIC LIMITED COex23-1.htm
EX-31.2 - EX-31.2 SECTION 302 CERTIFICATION OF CFO - SKILLSOFT PUBLIC LIMITED COex31-2.htm
EX-32.2 - EX-32.2 SECTION 906 CERTIFICATION OF CFO - SKILLSOFT PUBLIC LIMITED COex32-2.htm



UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
 
Form 10-K
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTIONS 13 OR 15(d)
OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

(Mark One)
 
R
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
   
 
For the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010
 
or
£
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
   
 
For the transition period from          to          

Commission file: 0-25674

SkillSoft Public Limited Company
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

Republic of Ireland
None
(State or Other Jurisdiction of
Incorporation or Organization)
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
107 Northeastern Boulevard
03062
Nashua, New Hampshire
(Zip Code)
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)
 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code:
(603) 324-3000
Securities registered pursuant to section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of Each Class
 
Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Ordinary Shares, €0.11
 
NASDAQ Global Market

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.  Yes R     No £

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.  Yes £     No R

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  Yes R     No £

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was require to submit and post such files).
Yes £ No £

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§ 229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  £

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
 
 
Large accelerated filer R
Accelerated filer £
 
 
Non-accelerated filer £
Smaller reporting company £
 
 
(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)
   

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined by Rule 12b-2 of the Act).  Yes £     No R

The approximate aggregate market value of voting shares held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of July 31, 2009 was $816,030,064

On March 18, 2010, the registrant had outstanding 95,107,875 ordinary shares (issued or issuable in exchange for the registrant’s outstanding American Depositary Shares (ADSs)).

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement for the registrant’s 2010 annual meeting of shareholders to be filed within 120 days of the end of its fiscal year ended January 31, 2010 may be incorporated into Part III (Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14) of this Annual Report on Form 10-K where indicated.


 
 

 

SKILLSOFT PUBLIC LIMITED COMPANY
 
FORM 10-K
 

   
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From time to time, including in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and our Annual Report to shareholders, we may issue forward-looking statements relating to such matters as anticipated financial performance, business prospects, strategy, plans, critical accounting policies, technological developments, new services, consolidation activities, research and development activities, regulatory, market and industry trends, and similar matters. The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and federal securities laws provide safe harbors for forward-looking statements. We note that a variety of factors, including known and unknown risks and uncertainties as well as incorrect assumptions, could cause our actual results and experience to differ materially from the anticipated results or other expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements. The factors that may affect the operations, performance, development and results of our business include those discussed under Item 1A, “Risk Factors” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

As used in this Form 10-K, “we”, “us”, “our”, “SkillSoft” and “the Company” refer to SkillSoft Public Limited Company and its subsidiaries, and references to our fiscal year refer to the fiscal year ending on January 31 of that year (for example, fiscal 2010 is the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010).



 


General

SkillSoft is a leading Software as a Service (SaaS) provider of on-demand e-learning and performance support solutions for global enterprises, government, education and small to medium-sized businesses. We enable organizations to maximize their performance through a combination of comprehensive e-learning content, online information resources, flexible learning technologies and support services. Content offerings include business, information technology (IT), desktop and compliance courseware collections, as well as complementary content assets such as Leadership Development Channel video products, KnowledgeCenterTM portals, SkillSoft Leadership Advantage portal, virtual instructor-led training services and online mentoring services. Our Books24x7® products offer online access to more than 25,000 digitized IT and business reference titles, including full textbooks, book summaries and executive reports. Our technology offerings include the SkillPort® learning management system (LMS), Search-and-Learn® search technology and SkillSoft® DialogueTM virtual classroom. We also offer a content-as-a-service solution through our Open Learning Services Architecture (OLSA), which utilizes Web Services standards and enables customers to integrate our content and content-related services with their enterprise application systems, enterprise portals and third party or custom LMS solutions. OLSA also enables us to offer SkillSoft Learning Portlets, which seamlessly deliver a personalized learning experience for each user via a portlet, resulting in increased utilization of learning assets and greater end-user satisfaction.

Our products and services are designed to help organizations achieve a sustainable business advantage through the intelligent application of online learning. With a comprehensive learning solution comprised of high-quality learning resources and flexible technology approaches, we help our customers align their training programs with business imperatives, while extending the reach of these training programs to more employees, worldwide. These solutions are designed to support all levels of the organization and can easily be adapted to meet on-demand information needs and individual job roles.

On the courseware side of our business, we focus on a variety of business, professional effectiveness, IT and compliance topics that we believe represent important skills required of employees in increasingly dynamic and complex work environments. We also provide performance support products through our Books24x7 business unit that support on-demand learning and daily information gathering needs. Our courses provide learners the ability to gain the knowledge they need to perform their jobs and prepare for many popular professional certifications. Our Books24x7 collections cover broad business and technical areas of interest, as well as focused areas of interest such as engineering and finance. Generally, our courseware and Books24x7 content solutions are based on open standard Web technologies and flexible, low bandwidth architecture, enabling users to access the material they need via computer, with the specificity or breadth they require, any time or anywhere that they may need it.

Our technology solutions are designed to support a broad range of corporate learning needs and respond quickly to business demands. Our LMS, SkillPort, is designed to be a flexible, scalable platform that can be rapidly implemented to meet the needs of the majority of business enterprises. We also work actively with other LMS vendors to ensure interoperability of our content and technology with their systems. We also offer customization and authoring tools, and other technology assets that allow our customers to tailor our content to better fit with their business. SkillSoft Dialogue is focused on the rapid assembly and delivery of effective online learning sessions. Our KnowledgeCenters are targeted learning portals that provide audiences instant access to trusted, relevant content that is specific to their job role. Each KnowledgeCenter includes material chosen to help users quickly and efficiently build knowledge around specific job-related topics. Customers can use the SkillSoft KnowledgeCenter Editor to tailor SkillSoft KnowledgeCenters to their business needs. Our SkillSoft Leadership Advantage portal helps executives build a greater understanding of key competencies that they need to better lead and mentor employees and be more productive contributors to their organizations. Among the many topics covered are leading change, strategic agility, business execution, managing and business acumen. Executive-focused content from SkillSoft’s Leadership Development Channel, QuickTalks, ExecSummaries, ExecBlueprints and compelling content from key industry thought leaders comprise the SkillSoft Leadership Advantage. Each learning track is designed with busy schedules in mind, as they last no more than two hours apiece. In addition, some of our short-form content, such as Books24x7 chapters and Leadership Development Channel QuickTalks, can be accessed and/or played on smart phones and other mobile devices.

We have a worldwide customer base of over 3,000 organizations spanning business, government and education sectors, with more than 10.5 million licensed users. Our major products include:

SkillChoice Multi-Modal Learning Solutions:  These integrated solutions provide a rich array of resources including courseware, Books24x7 products, online mentoring, certification practice tests, SkillSimTM Business Simulations and rich-media Business Exploration Series titles to support formal training and informal performance support needs. Available as four offerings (Complete, IT, Business and Desktop), SkillChoice solutions provide the necessary depth, breadth, quality and currency to encompass a wide range of corporate learning objectives.

 
SkillPort:  SkillPort, our learning management system, provides a reliable, flexible and cost-effective way for organizations to deploy and manage their e-learning programs. Using SkillPort, customers can leverage the benefits of the multi-modal learning approach and deploy robust learning solutions rapidly, on a global basis. With Search-and-Learn, a component of SkillPort, users view all learning assets on the system with a single, unified search. SkillPort is available as a SaaS-architecture hosted solution, supporting the growing demand for reliable, scalable and secure e-learning with a low-cost, low IT-burden model. Alternatively, customers may choose to deploy SkillPort within their intranet infrastructure.

SkillSoft Dialogue:  SkillSoft Dialogue is a virtual classroom platform that has been designed for the rapid assembly and delivery of effective live and on-demand learning sessions. SkillSoft Dialogue provides customers access to an online repository of hundreds of thousands of pages of SkillSoft learning content. This content can be used to enrich live and on-demand learning sessions created in SkillSoft Dialogue. These sessions can also be launched and tracked from SkillPort.

KnowledgeCenters:  KnowledgeCenters are pre-packaged, user-friendly learning portals that allow learners instant access to trusted, targeted content. Each KnowledgeCenter includes material specifically chosen to help a targeted audience of learners build knowledge around a topic as quickly and efficiently as possible. Components include Books24x7; access to SkillSoft courseware organized into Learning Roadmaps that allow learners to locate and use the most appropriate courses for their needs; simulations through SkillSim Business Simulations, expert mentoring services (for IT KnowledgeCenters and the Project Management Institute (“PMI”) KnowledgeCenter); and featured topic spotlights, refreshed regularly, to provide an in-depth focus on particular topical areas. KnowledgeCenters also feature Business Exploration Series titles and Learning Sparks. Our KnowledgeCenter Editor is an easy-to-use tool that allows organizations to brand and customize KnowledgeCenters. Using the KnowledgeCenter Editor, organizations can further optimize the focus of the KnowledgeCenter and enhance the learner experience by adding internal content, branding and resources.
 
Business Exploration Series:  The Business Exploration Series provides learners with scenario-based learning that enables them to experience real world situations in safe, exploratory environments. The Business Exploration Series includes two distinct learning assets, the Business Impact Series and the Challenge Series, which have been designed to engage the learner with concise, rich and authentic learning experiences.

Business Impact Series:  Business Impact Series titles are five- to ten-minute, audio-driven dramatizations of workplace business problems and related solutions. Innovative uses of video and Flash technology create realistic characters and scenarios that depict a wide range of business and professional development topics that learners can apply to their specific jobs.

Challenge Series:  Challenge Series titles are media-rich interactive case studies focused on content analysis, problem solving and decision making. Each Challenge Series title presents learners with a specific objective or goal, along with related discovery material and multiple potential solutions. Learners are “challenged” to analyze the business problem and the discovery material, select one of several potential solutions and then defend or justify their selections by answering questions about the selected outcome.

SkillSoft Leadership Advantage:  SkillSoft’s Leadership Advantage is a pre-packaged, user-friendly learning portal that allows executives and corporate leaders instant access to trusted, highly intuitive, practical training to build a greater understanding of key competencies they need to better lead and mentor employees and be more productive contributors to their organizations. Among the many topics covered are leading change, strategic agility, business execution, managing and business acumen. Executive-focused content from SkillSoft’s Leadership Development Channel, QuickTalks, ExecSummaries, ExecBlueprints and compelling content from key industry thought leaders comprise SkillSoft Leadership Advantage. Each learning track is designed with busy schedules in mind, lasting no more than two hours each.

Business Skills Courseware Collection:  This includes 3021 courseware titles and simulations encompassing professional effectiveness, management/leadership, project management, sales and customer-facing skills, business strategy/operations, finance and human resources. Our courses feature strong visual design; a focus on instructional objectives at the application and analysis levels; learner interactivity; reinforcement through RolePlays, SkillSims and case studies and transfer of learning into practice through online job aids, follow-on activities and SkillBriefs. Our Business Skills Courseware Collection also supports many popular and sought-after business certifications including PMI’s PMP and CAPM certifications; HRCI’s PHR and SPHR certifications; ASQ’s Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belt; Certified Quality Manager certifications and IIBA’s Certified Business Analysis Professional.
 

 
IT Skills Courseware Collection:  This includes 2,376 courseware titles encompassing software development, operating systems and server technologies, Internet and network technologies, enterprise database systems and Web design. Our IT Skills Courseware Collection also supports more than 100 current IT professional certification exams, and in most instances includes access to online mentoring. These IT courses also feature strong visual design, interactivity and reinforcement of learning transfer via frequent practice questions, simulations and self-assessed exercises.

Desktop Skills Courseware Collection:  Our Desktop Skills Courseware Collection includes 1,002 courseware titles to assist professionals who rely on standard desktop applications. Our desktop solutions are ideal for day-to-day performance support, as well as supporting major corporate software migrations.

Legal Compliance, Federal Government Compliance and Environmental Safety and Health (ES&H) Courseware Collection:  Our Compliance Solution includes three focus areas — Legal Compliance, Federal Government Compliance and ES&H Compliance. Our Legal Compliance Solution, which includes 56 courseware titles, addresses the needs of our clients as they work toward maintaining compliance with various U.S. statutes, regulations and case law that govern the workplace. Additionally, the collection contains five courseware titles relating to U.K. law and one localized legal compliance title. The Federal Government Compliance Series, which includes 12 courseware titles, addresses legal compliance issues that are of interest to federal agencies and private sector organizations that do business with the U.S. federal government. The ES&H Compliance Solution addresses key standards mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Our ES&H courses are designed for use by the “hardhat and safety glasses” industries. We offer over 210 ES&H courseware titles in five languages.

SkillSoft Academy:  SkillSoft Academy is a dedicated, configurable, online compliance learning management system that helps customers plan, schedule, record and manage their training to help ensure compliance with applicable regulatory and corporate requirements. Companies can plan and track various types of training, including Web-based, classroom, on-the-job, video or other formats. The SkillSoft Academy helps organizations ensure compliance by allowing consistent and specific training requirements to be set and tracked to completion for different customer-defined learner groups, such as divisions, departments, teams and job functions. Automated retraining functionality alerts learners, supervisors and training administrators on training status via an email notification system, allowing immediate review of training status for planning and compliance purposes through flexible and robust reporting.

Online Mentoring:  This service is offered for over 100 current certification exams for IT professionals, end-user technologies, human resources professional (PHR), Six Sigma and project management skills. We have over 20 available, on-staff certified technical experts (CTEs), who average over 25 current certifications each, are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week (24x7) for 38 of our most popular certification exams. In addition to the 38 exams that have 24x7 mentoring, experts are also available online Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST for more than 50 additional certification exams. Through online chats and e-mail, learners can ask questions, receive clarification and request additional information to help them get the answers and understanding they need to prepare for industry certification exams.

TestPrep:  Addressing over 75 of the most popular and current certification exams from Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, CompTIA and other certification sponsors, TestPrep practice exams allow learners to test their knowledge in a simulated certification-testing environment. Tests can be taken in two modes – study and certification. Study mode is designed to maximize learning by providing feedback, while certification mode is designed to mimic a certification exam.

Books24x7:  This includes more than 25,000 unabridged professional reference books and reports from more than 560 book publisher imprints that are available to online subscribers through Books24x7. A patented search engine technology gives Books24x7 subscribers the ability to perform multi-level searches to pinpoint information needed for on-the-job performance support and problem-solving. Books24x7 also includes AnalystPerspectives, which summarizes the views of many different analyst firms and provides insight into their research and opinions in a form that helps planners and decision makers at all levels make better informed decisions. Complementing these summarized reports are full-text premium research reports from leading analyst firms.

Executive Content:  Books24x7 executive level offerings give busy executives the insight they value in formats that fit their busy schedules. ExecSummariesTM offer concise summaries of today’s best-selling business books; ExecBlueprintsTM are executive white papers that provide near-term actionable information on key business topics and ExecBlueprints are bylined by leading C-level executives from prominent global companies. Most ExecSummaries and ExecBlueprints can be read on screen, printed or downloaded in MP3 format for portable listening.
 

 
Leadership Development Channel:  This offering includes a collection of live and on-demand video learning presentations featuring best-selling business authors, experts and executives. The Leadership Development Channel is designed to cover formal and informal learning needs of an organization through video programs covering the following topical areas: management and leadership, change and innovation, communication, marketing and sales, business strategy and more. In addition, this collection is ideal for both individual and group learning experiences, including use as meeting starters, one-on-one coaching, integration in instructor-led training, facilitated learning sessions and more.
Live Learning:  Our Live Learning offering is a derivative of traditional instructor-led technical training. However, rather than gathering students in one physical locale, instructor lectures are broadcast to participants anywhere via the Internet. Live Learning classes are taught over three weeks as six, three-hour Web-delivered lectures. Hands-on labs are performed by students independently between lectures, with online mentors accessible to assist if needed, depending on the course being taken. Recorded versions of lectures are available on-demand for review or if a learner misses any scheduled live lecture.

We were incorporated in Ireland on August 8, 1989. On September 6, 2002 we completed a merger with SkillSoft Corporation, a Delaware corporation, and on November 19, 2002 we changed our corporate name from SmartForce PLC to SkillSoft PLC. In addition, on May 14, 2007 we acquired NETg from The Thomson Corporation. Our registered office is located at Belfield Office Park, Clonskeagh, Dublin 4, Ireland, and our telephone number at that address from the United States is (011) 353-1-2181000. Our principal office in the United States is located at 107 Northeastern Boulevard, Nashua, New Hampshire 03062, USA, and our telephone number at that address is (603) 324-3000.

On February 12, 2010, we announced that we had reached agreement on the terms of a recommended acquisition of SkillSoft PLC by SSI Investments III Limited (“SSI Investments”), a company formed by funds sponsored by each of Berkshire Partners LLC, Advent International Corporation and Bain Capital Partners, LLC (collectively, the “Investor Group”) (the proposed acquisition by SSI Investments of the Company is referred to as the “Acquisition”). See Note 2(w) of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for a discussion of the Acquisition.
 
Available Information

We maintain a website with the address www.skillsoft.com. We are not including the information contained on our website as part of, or incorporating it by reference into, this annual report on Form 10-K. We make available free of charge through our website our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to these reports, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file these materials with, or otherwise furnish them to, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In addition, we provide periodic investor relations updates and our corporate governance materials on our website.

You may read and copy any materials we file with the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549. You may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. The SEC also maintains an Internet website that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding the Company and other issuers that file electronically with the SEC. The SEC’s Internet website address is http://www.sec.gov.
 
Industry Background

The corporate training market is large. We believe that a substantial majority of the corporate training market is comprised of business skills, IT skills and compliance training, as well as the complementary technologies and services for the development and delivery of learning programs. We believe that the growth in corporate training is being driven by:

 
The evolution of our economy to a service-based and knowledge-based economy, in which the skills of the work force often represent the most important corporate assets;

 
The increasing recognition by businesses of the need to continually improve the skills of their employees to remain competitive;

 
The rapidly evolving business environment, which necessitates continual training and education of employees even as expenditures for training must be tightly controlled;

 
The increased competition in today’s economy for skilled employees and the recognition that effective training can be used to recruit and retain employees;

 
The retirement of baby boom generation workers during the coming 10-to-15 years, which will result in industries seeking technically skilled and educated workers to meet the projected shortage of qualified and trained candidates to replace those retiring workers. This phenomenon is widely projected to create a major increase in demand for training in technical and business skills; and
 
 
 
The increased concern for environmental impact, which has caused many organizations to place limits on travel, as well as look for other ways to reduce overall waste and carbon emissions.

Although the significant majority of corporate training has historically been and continues to be delivered through traditional classroom instruction, e-learning solutions offer another choice in which business enterprises improve the skills of their work force. By providing real-time accessibility and user-focused specificity, e-learning enables the training and education process to be broadened from a distinct event — often off-site and limited in scope — to a process of continuous learning for employees. Often, we find that our customers combine e-learning resources with traditional classroom instruction and virtual classroom events. These blended learning programs meet the rising need for training in increasingly complex working environments, and when properly designed and deployed, blended solutions can effectively address the needs of business organizations seeking to provide cost effective, comprehensive, enterprise-wide learning solutions to their employees. These solutions can support the planned, formal learning priorities and the day-to-day informal learning activities that comprise the primary means by which business professionals learn the skills needed to do their job and grow their careers.

We believe that e-learning solutions present a significant opportunity for business organizations to cost-effectively deliver training and performance support resources for their employees while maintaining a higher level of productivity of their work force. e-Learning solutions can improve on the inefficiencies associated with classroom training, including travel costs, scheduling difficulties and the opportunity costs of employees’ time. In addition, e-learning provides benefits beyond other technology-based training methods that make it more flexible, effective and cost-efficient. For example, e-learning solutions provide more timely and simplified deployment, the flexibility of self-directed and personalized learning, improved ease of use and enhanced product/user support and administrative functionality. Furthermore, through the use of Web-based technologies, e-learning solutions provide access via computer to content anytime, anywhere over the Internet and in the exact amount required by each individual learner.

Content Products

With 6,685 courseware titles spanning IT, cross-functional business skills, functional area expertise and workplace compliance subjects, we are well positioned in the e-learning content sector of the market for corporate education and training solutions for today’s critical business and IT skills. Through our focus on these critical skills and our track record in fast and effective execution, we strive to deliver e-learning content that excels in terms of depth, breadth, currency, interactive learning design and Web deployment flexibility. Also, through our Books24x7 professional collections, we can offer users access to over 25,000 unabridged business and IT titles from more than 560 book publisher imprints, as well as summaries of leading business books, analyst reports and reports authored by C-level executives on pressing business topics. Together, these multi-modal e-learning components offer organizations an array of formal and informal learning based on user needs — whether students need to immerse themselves in the subject matter or need to quickly reference content for five to ten minutes of on-the-job performance support.

We regularly add new courses to cover new skills and technologies and new subjects requested by our customers or that we believe our customers will want. We also regularly retire courses from our active library as certain skills, subjects or technologies become outdated or used less frequently by our customers, and as we replace older courses with newer and higher quality versions. This combination of adding and retiring courses, which is part of our continuous effort to ensure the currency, relevancy and high quality of our active library, will cause the overall active library size to fluctuate.

Business Skills Courseware and Simulations

Our comprehensive business skills library of e-learning courses, simulations and learning objects encompasses a wide array of professional effectiveness skills and business topics. As of January 31, 2010, our business skills library included 3,021 business skills course and simulation offerings. Our business skills courses and simulations are divided into the following major Solution Areas:

Professional Effectiveness
Business Strategy & Operations
Management & Leadership
Sales & Customer-Facing Skills
Project Effectiveness
Finance, HR & Administration

We have 939 current English language business skills courseware titles, and 2,082 courseware titles that have been localized into a number of languages and dialects, including UK English, Italian, German, French, European Spanish, Polish, Russian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Cantonese, Latin American Spanish, Turkish, Indian English, Brazilian Portuguese, Greek, Dutch and Korean, to support other geographic markets.



IT Skills Courseware

Our comprehensive IT skills library of e-learning courses and learning objects encompasses a wide array of technologies used by IT professionals and business end-users. As of January 31, 2010, our IT skills library included 2,376 IT skills course offerings that are divided into the following major Solution Areas:

Software Development
OS & Server Technologies
Internet & Network Technologies
Database Systems
Web Design
 

The courseware in these Solution Areas address over 100 current technical certifications sought by IT professionals and enterprises providing technical products and services to their customers, including:

Microsoft
Microsoft (continued)
Cisco
MCTS – Windows Server 2008
MCDST
CCNA
   – Active Directory Configuration
MCSA 2003
CCNA Voice
   – Applications Infrastructure Configuration
MCSE 2003
CCNA Security
   – Network Infrastructure Configuration
 
CCNA Wireless
MCTS – Windows 7 Configuration
ISC(2)
CCNP
MCTS – SQL Server 2008 Impl. & Maint.
CISSP (ISC2)
CCDA
MCTS – SQL Server 2008 Database Dev.
 
CCDP
MCTS – SQL Server 2008 Business Int.
Linux Professional Institute
CCSP
MCTS – SharePoint Server 2007
LPI: Level 1
CCIP
MCTS – Windows Vista Configuration
LPI: Level II
CCVP
MCTS – Exchange Server 2007 Configuration
   
MCTS – .NET Framework 3.5
Project Mgmt Institute
 
MCTS – .NET Framework 2.0
PMP - 4th Edition
 
MCTS – SQL Server 2005
CAPM - 4th Edition
 
     
IIBA
CompTIA
Sun
CBAP 2.0
A+ 2009
Sun Certified Programmer
 
Network+ 2009
for the Java 2 Platform
Linux Professional Institute
Project+ 2009
Solaris 9
LPIC Jr. Level Administration
Security+ 2008
 
LPIC Intermediate Level Administration
Server+
 
     
CIW
Oracle
ITIL
CIW Site Designer
11g Administrator Certified Associate
Foundations V3
 
11g Administrator Certified Professional
Foundations V2
EMC
11g Performance Tuning Certified Expert
 
Information Storage & Management
SQL Certified Expert
ISEB & ITSQB
 
PL/SQL Developer Certified Associate
Software Testing Foundation
 
10g Administrator, OCA
 
 
10g DBA OCP
 
 
Application Server 10g, OCA
 

We have 1,552 current English language IT skills courseware titles and 824 IT skills courseware titles that have been localized into additional languages including German, Italian, European Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Mandarin Chinese, Chinese Cantonese, Latin American Spanish, Polish, Turkish, Traditional Chinese, UK English, Russian and Indian English to support other geographic markets.
 
 
Desktop Skills Courseware Collection

 Our Desktop Skills library of e-learning courses and learning objects offers 310 English Desktop Skills courseware titles and 692 Desktop Skills courseware titles that have been localized into languages such as Italian, German, French, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Japanese, Turkish, Greek, Dutch and Mandarin Chinese.

Our Desktop Skills courseware titles are built to assist professionals who rely upon standard desktop applications such as Microsoft Office, Crystal Reports, Adobe Acrobat and Lotus Notes. Our desktop solutions are ideal for day-to-day performance support, as well as supporting major corporate software migrations. In addition, our Desktop Skills Courseware Collection supports over 12 popular end user certifications including ECDL/ICDL and many Microsoft end user certification exams.

Compliance Solutions

Our Compliance Solutions provide collections of compliance-based e-learning solutions. Within Compliance Solutions there are three areas of focus: Legal Compliance, Federal Government Compliance and ES&H Compliance.

The Legal Compliance Solution addresses the needs of our clients as they work toward maintaining compliance with various statutes, regulations and case law that govern the workplace. The various topics covered in this solution include ethics, code of conduct, diversity, Sarbanes-Oxley and harassment prevention. Our Legal Compliance courses are designed for use by virtually everyone in an organization, regardless of job title or position.

The Federal Government Compliance Series addresses legal compliance issues that are of interest to federal agencies and private sector organizations that do business with the federal government. The topics included in this solution are similar to those found in the Legal Compliance Solution; however, they are designed to address federal requirements that govern federal employees.

The ES&H Compliance Solution addresses key standards mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Our ES&H courses are designed for use by the “hardhat and safety glasses” industries.

Leadership Development Channel

With over 1,300 available video programs, our Leadership Development Channel product includes a collection of live and on-demand video learning presentations featuring best-selling business authors, experts and executives. The Leadership Development Channel is designed to support the learning needs of an organization through video programs covering the following topical areas: management and leadership, change and innovation, communication, marketing and sales, business strategy and more. In addition, this collection is ideal for both individual and group learning experiences, including use as a meeting starter, one-on-one coaching, integration in instructor-led training and facilitated learning sessions.

The Leadership Development Channel also features an annual series of up to seven live, interactive presentations featuring best-selling business authors and thought-leaders. Each presentation is interactive by phone, fax and email and broadcast via satellite, videoconference and webcast to the desktop. Presenters in this series have included Stephen Covey, Pat Lencioni, Thomas Friedman and John Kotter, among others.

Books24x7

Our Books24x7 product line offers a suite of unabridged and topically organized collections that provide online subscribers the ability to perform multi-level searches to pinpoint information needed for on-the-job performance support and problem-solving. Books24x7 products draw upon leading professional reference books, research reports and documentation. Books24x7 is delivered via a Web-based platform that enables paying subscribers to browse, read, search and collaborate anytime, anywhere with a simple Web connection. Books24x7 collections include:

ITPRO COLLECTION is geared toward technology professionals, including developers, network administrators, technology executives, information services managers and technical support representatives. This collection consists of content from dozens of IT publishers including industry leaders such as Apress, Microsoft Press, MIT Press, McGraw-Hill and John Wiley & Sons.

BUSINESSPRO COLLECTION is geared toward professionals whose role requires exercising strong business judgment. This collection contains over 100 business skills and professional development publishers including industry leaders such as AMACOM, ASTD, Harvard Business Press, Jossey-Bass, Oxford University Press, Project Management Institute, Stanford University and John Wiley & Sons.

 
OFFICEESSENTIALS COLLECTION is a specialty collection geared toward non-technical users who require occasional real-time assistance with common desktop applications. This collection contains award winning content, including the “For Dummies®” series, is written in a comfortable, easy-to-understand tone and can be deployed to desktops to relieve help desk congestion, or provided as an end-user “safety net” during migration to applications such as Microsoft Windows 7 and Office 2007.

FINANCEPRO COLLECTION offers professionals access to relevant information on a variety of financial and accounting topics. FinancePro delivers fully searchable, online content from popular publishers such as John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, Oxford University Press and the National Underwriter Company, and provides immediate access to financial reference materials including such topics as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), International Financial Accounting Standards (IFRS), Sarbanes-Oxley, operations management, planning and taxation.

ENGINEERINGPRO COLLECTION is a professional information tool containing reference material covering a wide range of engineering disciplines, and general reference topics important to virtually all engineers. This collection features books from publishers such as John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, The Institution of Electrical Engineers, Elsevier, Industrial Press, Artech House, Cambridge University Press, The MIT Press and others.

EXECSUMMARIES COLLECTION provides summaries of leading business books from today’s foremost business authors. ExecSummaries expertly encapsulates the salient points and ideas of full-length books into concise, eight-page summaries. These thorough, yet high-level overviews provide time-constrained executives with the leading ideas that are shaping today’s business environment. The ExecSummaries collection is available through a partnership with Soundview Executive Book Summaries.

EXECBLUEPRINTS COLLECTION is original content owned by SkillSoft that provides executives with easy-to-absorb, practical information and best practices to help provide them with a framework for taking near-term action on pressing business issues. Authored by leading business executives who are regarded as leaders and innovators in their fields, these reports are designed to succinctly convey key issues, metrics, lessons learned, milestones, timelines and action plans required for successful execution.

GOVESSENTIALS COLLECTION is a broad reference tool targeted to meet the information needs of government workers, contractors and consultants. By combining the full text of government-focused books from major publishers with carefully selected public domain content, GovEssentials offers a variety of ready-access titles in a broad range of subjects such as foundations of government, security & homeland defense, acquisition & contracting, E-Gov & information technology and other topics of importance to government workers.

WELL-BEINGESSENTIALS COLLECTION is designed for deployment at all levels of the enterprise to help foster a more productive employee base. The collection complements corporate EAP (employee assistance program) initiatives by providing a resource for employees to research and understand topics of importance to them. Well-BeingEssentials includes best-selling titles from the best publishers in the health and work-life arena, including AMACOM, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Career Press, John Wiley & Sons, Jossey-Bass and Kogan Page.

ANALYSTPERSPECTIVES COLLECTION provides technology executives, managers and practitioners with the analyst information they need to make the important decisions that affect their enterprise. The collection consists of two major components: AnalystPerspectives Consensus reports, which are exclusive SkillSoft-owned documents that compare, contrast and summarize the views of multiple analyst firms; and more than 2,300 full-text analyst reports from more than 20 premium research firms covering a variety of IT and telecommunications topics.

ITIL® POWERED BY BOOKS24X7 is a collection that provides the official ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) curriculum guides. ITIL is a best practices framework that enables businesses to deliver high-quality IT services and more effectively manage IT operations. This collection is offered through a partnership with the publisher, TSO, as well as the copyright holder, OGC (UK Office of Government Commerce).

ELEMENTSESSENTIALSFRANCAIS is a focused collection of books published in French covering desktop skills, management, IT and other technical disciplines.

BOOKS24X7 EN ESPAÑOL is a focused collection of books published in Spanish covering desktop skills, business management, IT and other technical disciplines.

GERMAN BOOKS COLLECTIONS includes three collections of titles published in German: German Desktop Books, which includes popular Microsoft Office and other desktop applications; German IT Books, featuring IT and technology topics and German Books Complete, which includes all German titles from the Desktop and IT Books collections plus business skills and other topics.

 
Business Exploration Series

BUSINESS IMPACT SERIES — The Business Impact Series is a collection of concise, scenario-based vignettes employing video techniques to analyze core business problems, dramatizing key elements and emphasizing practical solutions. They are highly effective instructional strategies for presenting and sharing information and best practices. They do not include any questions or interactions. Business Impact titles always include a printable summary screen listing the key content points.

CHALLENGE SERIES — The Challenge Series titles are interactive case studies designed to enhance solution-analysis and decision-making skills. Primarily focused on decisions and decision outcomes, these media-rich products challenge learners to solve modern business problems by considering numerous options and solutions. The design of each Challenge Series title assumes learners have some prior knowledge of the content area coming into the scenario. Because Challenge Series titles require responses from learners, they are excellent interactive strategies for reinforcing and practicing application and analysis-level learning. The ability to retake the Challenge Series title, choosing each of the different solutions, adds multiple layers of content depth to the overall learning experience.

The use of rich media and audio-driven presentation strategies in both offerings has multi-generational appeal and increases overall learner engagement with the content.

TestPrep Certification Practice Exams

Addressing over 75 of the most popular current certification exams from Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle and CompTIA, TestPrep practice exams allow learners to test their knowledge in a simulated certification-testing environment. Tests can be taken in two modes — study and certification. The un-timed study mode is designed to maximize learning by providing feedback and mapping back to appropriate SkillSoft courses for further study, while the against-the-clock certification mode is designed to mimic a certification exam.

SkillSoft Instructional/Learning Design Model

The instructional design model for our business and IT skills courses is based primarily on the concepts of performance-oriented instruction, mastery and the sequencing of instructional activities and strategies. The model draws heavily from adult learning principles that emphasize learner initiative, self-management, experiential learning and transfer of learning into the workplace. The design of each of our courses starts with the definition of user-focused performance objectives and then proceeds to the selection and implementation of instructional strategies and learning activities appropriate for those objectives. Frequent practice questions or exercises along with assessments measure users’ achievement of those objectives. We believe this robust, yet flexible, design methodology creates an instructionally sound framework for the design and development of highly interactive, engaging and instructionally effective courses — regardless of the content focus or level of learning.

Our instructional design model is intended to meet the challenge of creating effective and engaging instruction that is easily deployed on our corporate customers’ global computer networks or over the Internet. Our design, development and quality assurance standards and processes are all geared toward ensuring each course meets our expectations for the best instruction possible. The model is intentionally flexible and non-technology specific, which allows for ongoing implementation of innovative strategies and features.

Our instructional design model is focused on producing courses in all content areas with:

 
Learning outcomes specified by performance goals and objectives;

 
Content and learning activities based on specified objectives;

 
Assessment based on the knowledge and skills specified in the objectives;

 
Options to take assessments in either pre- or post-test mode;

 
Instructional strategies and rich media elements tailored to the specific course content;

 
Tools to promote the transfer of learning into the workplace, such as online job aids, code samples and follow-on activities;

 
Instructional strategies appropriate for the content and learning level, such as examples, RolePlays, case studies, guided practice and simulations; and

 
Levels of learning appropriate for the content and the target audience.

 
The theories and principles embedded within our instructional design model are actualized via:

 
A friendly, intuitive graphical user interface;

 
A course structure and navigation that supports self-paced, user-controlled instruction;

 
Unlimited access to instruction and assessments;

 
Standardized templates to create unified and predictable functionality;

 
A variety of presentation, practice and assessment templates supporting high levels of user interactivity and engagement; and

 
A standardized, yet flexible flow of instruction.

Starting from this set of common elements and attributes, our courses then include the instructional strategies most suitable for the content and specified objectives. For instance, the approach to teaching communication skills is different from the approach to teaching finance or accounting skills, and the strategies used to teach these two business content areas differ from those used to teach computer and software skills.

Learning Design for Business Skills, Compliance and ES&H

Our business skills courses cover a broad range of business and professional effectiveness curriculum areas. Some content is factual with predictable, non-variable outcomes, such as finance. Other content areas, such as communication skills, are “softer,” or more behavioral-oriented, and have highly variable implementation options and outcomes that require a different set of instructional presentation and practice strategies. In addition, we have a strong commitment to reach the highest possible levels of learning in each course — including as much application and analysis level content as possible, supported by strong foundational learning at the knowledge and comprehension levels.

The key instructional features and strategies in our business skills, compliance and ES&H courses and library are:

AUDIO-ENABLED LEARNING — Audio is a standard feature in all business, compliance and ES&H courses. Audio greatly enhances engagement and retention for many learners. Audio is especially relevant to the instructional effectiveness of behavior modeling, RolePlay exercises and SkillSims. Recognizing that all learning environments are not appropriate for sound, and to accommodate varying learning style preferences, audio can easily be turned on or off via user interface controls.

AUTO ADVANCE – Auto Advance is a feature that enables automatic movement from one presentation page to the next without "clicking" the Next Page button. Instead, the move to the next page is triggered by the end of the audio for each page. Auto Advance stops anytime a page requires user interaction and can be turned off and on by the user via the Auto Advance button on the user interface. This flexibility allows learners to adjust the pace of learning to their individual needs and preferences.

NARRATED ANIMATION — Narrated animation is the standard presentation strategy in SkillSoft’s soft-skill business content. Narrated animation is a method of presenting content that incorporates media-rich visuals, animations and transitional effects with verbalized content (narration). The content is visualized via onscreen graphics, animations and text, and verbalized via synchronized audio and optional onscreen captions. The text in the onscreen caption box is a verbatim replication of the audio content and can be a helpful memory enhancer with complex or highly technical content. This strategy is a more contemporary and sophisticated approach to presenting course content, appeals to learners from all generations and increases overall learner engagement. A new player feature called “auto advance” makes it possible to automatically move forward from one page to the next. The auto advance feature pauses only for pages calling for user interaction or responses, such as practice questions or pages with links to job aids.

ONE HOUR COURSES — In response to customer requests for shorter courses, SkillSoft started releasing one-hour soft-skills business courses during 2009. This shorter course design is now the standard for all newly developed soft-skills business content courses. In conjunction with the move to the shorter courses, SkillSoft also uses global voice talent to appeal to the global audience for this content. One hour courses have always been and continue to be the standard for most of the compliance and ES&H courses.
 
EXPLORE GRAPHICS — Explore Graphic is an interactive content presentation strategy. Each active graphical element is associated with a specific pop-up text box with additional instruction and explanation. Learners select or click on each graphical element to show the associated pop-up text.

 
DRILLDOWNS — This interactive presentation strategy is similar to the Explore Graphic, and is used when there is more information to be displayed than will fit in a single pop-up text box. Each active graphical element is associated with a multi-page sequence of additional instruction and explanation. Learners return to the "base" page at the end of each sequence of additional pages.

ROLEPLAY EXERCISES — RolePlay exercises present users with opportunities for realistic practice of varying aspects of course content within everyday workplace scenarios. RolePlay exercises have multiple possible outcomes based on users’ responses to the simulation’s interactions. When integrated into course topics, RolePlay exercises allow users to freely explore the impact of handling realistic work situations in different ways. Our RolePlay design allows users to experience the exercise in “score” mode or “explore” mode. Using score mode lets learners assess their level of skill within the targeted content area. Using explore mode allows the learner to dynamically explore alternative responses to see the impact of those choices. This user-driven exploration is the key to real learning.

SIMULATED DIALOGS — The ability to observe behaviors and their outcomes (positive and negative) is a key strategy for teaching professional and behavioral skills. The simulated dialog strategy gives users an opportunity to observe and listen to the conversations of two or more people. The inclusion of “character” audio enhances the emotional and tonal qualities of the conversation, while the varying facial expressions and body language offer another layer of interpretation. These features, combined with the spoken words of the characters, provide realistic vignettes or scenarios in which varying aspects of a behavioral skill can be presented.

CASE STUDIES — A case study strategy describes a complex situation, often in the form of a story or scenario, and then asks the user to explore its characteristics and possible resolutions. Complexity is the primary difference between case studies and examples that can be easily presented and practiced through other types of strategies, such as multiple choice and matching. Case studies are used to achieve learning at the application and analysis levels and to present examples of content within appropriate business contexts.

MULTIPLE-CHOICE, MATCHING AND RANKING QUESTIONS — Multiple-choice, matching and ranking questions are interactive problem-solving exercises that give learners the opportunity to evaluate and/or apply their knowledge before taking a test. Learners are “debriefed” on their progress via detailed reinforcement, regardless of whether they get the question right or wrong. These strategies are used to practice a wide variety of content types, and are particularly useful when practicing conceptual content.

CHOICE-SPECIFIC FEEDBACK IN PRACTICE QUESTIONS — All multiple choice, matching and ranking questions include an explanation of why each answer option is correct or incorrect. Choice-specific feedback gives learners a method for getting more information about each answer option. Upon selecting each individual answer option, feedback is instantly displayed explaining why that answer option is either a correct option or a distracter.

ANIMATIONS — Animations are an important element of our leading visual design. We use animations when movement is an important part of the teaching point, when the content requires that the user’s eye be drawn to a specific area of the screen or when a key concept can be best presented via animated visuals. Examples of content areas where animation can enhance learning effectiveness include instruction on process and dataflow diagrams, hierarchical and dependency relationships and changes in state or perspective.

REFLECTIVE TEMPLATES — Reflective templates provide learners with an opportunity to think about a particular concept, event or teaching point, and then record those thoughts for later printout or use in the instruction. This strategy helps learners personalize the content to themselves or their organizations. This personalization creates a more meaningful context in which the learner can frame the learning experience.

ONLINE JOB AIDS — All of our business skills courses include online job aids that help support the use of newly learned skills and knowledge in the workplace. Job aids are courseware “take-aways” that can be used as-is, or tailored to meet a user’s needs. Each job aid can easily be edited to reflect a user’s organization-specific information, and users can add organization-specific job aids that they have independently developed via our customization tools. There are more than 8,200 job aids available through our business skills courses.

LEARNING AIDS — Learning aids are tools or documents used in support of course content presentation and practice. They are designed to support specific course context or content, and, therefore, are not available for use outside of the course. Learning aids could appear as worksheets (interactive or passive), reference documents too large to include in a standard template, complex charts or graphs or a variety of other formats. Only the content and the chosen instructional strategies limit the variations.

 
SKILLBRIEFS — SkillBriefs are one- to two-page text-based HTML documents that summarize the content in each topic of a course. SkillBriefs are available as part of course content, as well as through SkillPort. SkillBriefs can be used to quickly “refresh” a learner’s memory of key teaching points, as instant, “just-in-time” non-interactive learning when time doesn’t allow for more typical instruction and/or as valuable take-aways from a course to support transfer of learning into the workplace. There are currently over 6,000 SkillBriefs available.

PRE- AND POST-TESTING ASSESSMENTS — Assessments are available for use in both pre- and post-testing modes. When assessments are used in pre-test mode, learners can use the results to tailor their initial path of instruction based on those results. Post-test assessments can be used to help learners identify areas where review or remediation is necessary. The ability to implement testing at topic, lesson and/or course-level provides maximum flexibility across multiple corporate testing philosophies and methodologies.

SKILLSIM SIMULATIONS — SkillSim Simulations are instructional resources that extend the learning advantages of RolePlay into larger, more complex e-learning experiences. SkillSim Simulations are designed to give users an opportunity to practice new skills in realistic work situations. Each SkillSim Simulation, typically 20-to-40 minutes in duration, provides users with an opportunity to practice application level skills based on content drawn from multiple courses within one of our learning paths or series (a collection of related courses). Users practice these skills by navigating through different scenarios in which they encounter a variety of business problems. As in real life, users have the opportunity to select different courses of action, and the scenario unfolds according to the users’ choice of actions. Events such as telephone calls, meetings and interruptions add to the reality of each scenario.

SkillSim Simulations, with integrated links to their corresponding SkillSoft course series, provide a powerful learning experience that allows the user to immediately apply newly gained knowledge to challenging business situations in risk-free environments.

Learning Design for IT Skills

Like our business skills courses, the instructional strategies chosen for use in an IT skills course are largely dependent on the course content and objectives. Learning the use or function of buttons, menu items and other familiar software elements is largely a knowledge and comprehension task. Learning the steps to complete a specific task is very procedural and best achieved via observation or guided practice, followed by opportunities for more independent practice, with varying degrees of guidance, feedback and support. In support of these and other IT skills-related learning goals, our IT skills courses include static and interactive explanations, step-by-step demonstrations of how to perform specific procedures, guided practice activities and sample coding solutions. Frequent review questions in the instructional topics reinforce key teaching points. Tests at topic, lesson and/or course level provide learners with an option to assess their performance across the entirety of a course, or with more focused concentration on individual topic or lesson level content and objectives.

The key instructional features and strategies in the IT skills courses and library are:

EXPLORE TEXT — Explore Text is an interactive content presentation strategy. Each item in a text bullet list is related to a different pop-up text explanation, and can include a graphic display to accompany the pop-up text. Learners select each text item in the list to show the associated pop-up text and accompanying graphical change.

EXPLORE GRAPHIC — Explore Graphic is an interactive content presentation strategy. Each active graphical element is associated with a specific pop-up text box with additional instruction and explanation. Learners select or click on each graphical element to show the associated pop-up text.

DRILLDOWNS — This interactive presentation strategy is similar to the Explore Graphic, and is used when there is more information to be displayed than will fit in a single pop-up text box. Each active graphical element is associated with a multi-page sequence of additional instruction and explanation. Learners return to the "base" page at the end of each sequence of additional pages.

DEMONSTRATIONS AND GUIDED PRACTICE — “Demos” in our IT skills courses are demonstrations of software or code-based procedures and tasks. Most typically, the demonstration will divide the procedure or task into specific steps and then sequentially “show” those steps to the user. As the demo moves from one step to the next, a simulated representation of the software shows what happens next and additional text provides commentary. Sometimes, demonstrations are presented in a way that allows learners to practice executing the steps as each step is shown and explained. This guided demonstration or practice strategy, called a “Try-It,” prompts the user to perform specific steps or enter code that achieves a specified end result.



PROMPTED ANIMATIONS — Animations help learners visualize content and draw their attention to an area on an interface or conceptual graphic. Prompted animations are initiated by the learner after some other introduction to the content in the instruction. When the animation is launched, it extends or reinforces the instruction that has already taken place. The use of prompted versus “autoplay” animation helps avoid split attention, which can occur when text displays simultaneously with animation. Split attention means a learner is confused about where to focus or watch, and confounds learning.

TRY IT —Try It is a guided demonstration or practice strategy that prompts learners to perform, on a simulated interface, one or more steps from a procedure. Try Its are particularly effective strategies for Desktop and other GUI-based content because learners are given the opportunity to practice and learn about a procedure at the same time. As each step is completed, the simulated application experience responds as it would in the real application. This simulated environment is often augmented with visual cues, such as pointers or highlighters. If learners decide not to attempt or complete the guided practice, they can exit by either selecting the Next Page button or the Show Me button in the Try It interface. Selecting the Next Page button skips any remaining portion of the Try It and moves the instruction to the next page in the topic. Show Me is a special animation feature that automatically demonstrates the remaining steps in the Try It. The steps display in the Step Box as each step is demonstrated.

SKILLCHECK — SkillChecks are practice strategies that give learners an opportunity to practice new skills without guidance. Learners must successfully complete each step before being allowed to progress to the next step. If they don't know how to complete a step, they can select the Steps button to display the list of steps, or select the Show Me button to see an animated demonstration of how to complete any remaining steps. A Skip button is also available to take the learner to the next page of the topic.

MULTIPLE-CHOICE, MATCHING AND RANKING QUESTIONS — Multiple-choice, matching and ranking questions are interactive problem-solving exercises that give learners the opportunity to evaluate and/or apply their knowledge before taking a test. Learners are “debriefed” on their progress via detailed reinforcement, regardless of whether they get the question right or wrong. These strategies are used to practice a wide variety of content types, and are particularly useful when practicing conceptual content.

CODE-ENABLED TEMPLATES — To facilitate incorporating the conceptual and demonstration content associated with coding content (Java, Visual Basic) and command line languages (Cisco, Linux), many of the presentation and practice templates include the ability to incorporate a special text presentation of code and commands. This "Code/Text Editor" feature allows learners to see and practice the formats, syntax, and rules associated with code and command line languages. This feature is used with high instructional effectiveness throughout code or command-line content, but is critical to the "Explore Code" presentation strategy and the Multiple Choice Fill-in Code practice strategy.

CHOICE-SPECIFIC FEEDBACK IN PRACTICE QUESTIONS — All multiple choice, matching and ranking questions include an explanation of why each answer option is correct or incorrect. Learners do not have to read this feedback—it is optional. Choice-specific feedback gives learners a method for getting more information about each answer option. Upon selecting each individual answer option, feedback is instantly displayed explaining why that answer option is either a correct option or a distracter.

SIMULATIONS AND EXERCISES — Our IT skills courses contain standalone topics that give learners the opportunity to independently practice or consolidate the most critical procedures and learning taught in the preceding instruction. Simulations consist of a series of tasks that learners perform in a simulated version of the application being discussed in the course. Exercises give learners the opportunity to analyze and write code or commands. Exercise topics are also used to address hardware setup problems and case-study scenarios; these content areas often require a hybrid mix of more standard type questions to address conceptual knowledge followed by simulations and coding or user input exercises to address the implementation of the associated solution. All exercises are presented within contextually relevant “real-world” scenarios.

LEARNING SPARKS  Learning Sparks are innovative, instructional products that engage learners in dynamic, highly interactive scenarios. Utilizing learning techniques such as first-person video narration, drag-and-drop network simulations, and multiple choice questions with feedback, Sparks are a concise learning mode that provides opportunities to practice and reinforce key targeted IT skills.

SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISES — These exercises are designed to provide the user with an opportunity to apply new knowledge and skills within a scenario or problem-based environment. When feasible, such as with desktop content, the exercises are designed to be completed within a live software application. Self-assessment exercises afford learners the opportunity to carry out complex tasks and exercises, on which they can then assess themselves from a provided solution. These exercises involve the presentation of a real-world scenario requiring the learner to provide a solution or complete a series of tasks. After completing a series of these activities, users will have a set of documents or products demonstrating proficiency with the skills taught by the course.

 
PRE- AND POST-TESTING ASSESSMENTS — IT Skills content included in SkillSoft's Common Course Architecture provides assessments for use in both pre- and post-testing modes. When assessments are used in pre-test mode, learners can use the results to tailor their initial path of instruction based on those results. Post-test assessments can be used to help learners identify areas where review or remediation is necessary. The ability to implement testing at topic, lesson and/or course-level provides maximum flexibility across multiple corporate testing philosophies and methodologies.

Learning Design for Workplace Performance

We believe the use of learning assets in support of formal and informal learning is now desirable and common for many of our customers. Learning organizations are also demanding a broader range of learning environments and strategies as part of their learning solutions. Formal instruction remains important, but additional assets are needed to support solutions such as blended learning, learning portals, performance support and communities of practice. We will continue to develop learning assets that are flexible and innovative and that enhance workplace performance.

Web-Based Architecture and Deployment Technology

Our Web-based architecture and deployment strategy enables us to provide a number of features to support users in their learning. These features include:

Learning Management System:  Learning management systems are key enabling technologies that permit users to access a wide variety of learning content resources over the Web, including courseware, simulations, Books24x7, video content, online mentoring, SkillBriefs, job aids and TestPrep certification practice tests. Learning and development organizations can develop and deliver targeted learning programs to achieve specific business objectives using SkillPort’s learning program capabilities. Our SkillPort LMS provides a rich feature set to support a range of corporate learning needs with a high degree of reliability and scalability. Available as a hosted or intranet solution, SkillPort offers our customers a low-cost, low IT-burden option with fast time-to-learning. As of January 31, 2010, there were approximately 2,300 active SkillPort customer sites. In addition to our SkillPort platform, we continue to strive for convenient, easy integration of our content into third-party learning management systems through ongoing support of industry standards such as SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) and AICC (Aviation Industry CBT Committee) standards and through initiatives such as our Strategic Alliance for Integrated Learning (SAIL).

SkillPort Search-and-Learn® Technology:  Search-and-Learn technology, a key component of SkillPort, allows the users to search and access learning resources topically with a single, unified search. For example, a learner searching for resources on Cisco networks can discover the various SkillSoft courses, books, TestPreps and online mentoring services available to the learner with a single search query. Customer content published to, and managed by SkillPort is also included in the search results. From the identified results, the learner can then choose the resource that best meets his or her specific needs, time requirements and learning preferences.

SkillPort Customer Content Support:  Customer content support allows customers to track, manage and search custom courses, as well as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Adobe PDF documents. This gives organizations the ability to incorporate important information resources such as white papers, launch plans, budget templates and customized training within a comprehensive learning database. SkillPort also supports off-the-shelf and custom courseware from third-party providers, as long as the content is designed to conform to our supported open standards and meets our custom content support guidelines. SkillSoft also offers services to assist customers in creating and publishing proprietary custom courseware and other content using SkillSoft and third party authoring technologies.

SkillSoft Dialogue:  SkillSoft Dialogue has been developed in response to our customers’ needs to rapidly assemble and deliver new content that ties to their respective organizations and goals. Many customers have added a virtual meeting component to their learning programs to deliver company-specific information. They have discovered that online meeting tools can be used to quickly create new material and are using these tools to deliver information live, as well as recording their presentations for employees to play back on demand. However, they have also encountered some common challenges. Most online meeting tools do little to support subject matter experts (SMEs) who may not be experienced in how to deliver sessions that are rich in interaction, which can result in a lower level of engagement and knowledge transfer. Additionally, editing these recordings is often cumbersome or impossible. SkillSoft Dialogue builds on the foundation of this online meeting technology and adapts it to better fit the needs and challenges of the learning community. SkillSoft Dialogue aids SMEs in creating more interactive presentations, and provides access to SkillSoft content to enrich presentations.

 
Assistive Technology Support:  Assistive technology support is designed to address the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, which provides that, as of June 2001, computer software applications purchased or developed by federal agencies must be designed for accessibility by people who are blind, deaf or have poor motor skills. We have aggressively worked to adapt our online courseware, Books24x7 and our SkillPort LMS platform to meet the requirements established by Section 508. This development work is consistent with our general corporate philosophy to help organizations “democratize” training and give all employees access to training and development opportunities anywhere, anytime through computers. Our Section 508-compliant products provide users in a government or commercial organization with sight, hearing and/or mobility limitations equal access to our courses through the use of leading assistive technologies such as the JAWS screen reader.

High Performance Web Technology:  Our products incorporate high performing Web technologies that we believe substantially improve our product performance. Our courses and support tools are developed using cross-platform technologies such as HTML, XML, Java, JavaScript and Adobe Flash. Our products employ advanced compression techniques, which allow our products to deliver high-quality performance within our customers’ bandwidth constraints. This enables us to provide our e-learning solutions to most users, not just those with the most powerful computers, fastest network connections and highest resolution monitors.

Flexible Deployment Options:  We offer a fully hosted SaaS-architecture model as a deployment option for companies that prefer to have users access courses from SkillSoft-managed servers via the Internet rather than host the courses on the customer’s intranet. Chosen by the large majority of SkillSoft customers, this SaaS option can significantly simplify and shorten the implementation process.

Open Learning Services Architecture:  Open Learning Services Architecture (OLSA) is a set of Web services that enables customers to integrate our comprehensive content and content related services with their enterprise application systems, enterprise portals and third party or custom LMS systems. These services enable automation of burdensome administrative tasks and rapid deployment of SkillSoft hosted, off-the-shelf or customized, learning solutions. OLSA benefits include lower integration and operations costs as well as reduced time-to-availability of comprehensive learning resources. OLSA capabilities include fully-integrated search technology (Search-and-Learn); catalog management; user management; user learning data management; content launching with integrated services such as mentoring, code evaluation with links to book references; online data synchronization; learning structure launching such as KnowledgeCenter Portals, SkillSoft Leadership Advantage portal, and learning programs with integrated SkillSoft Dialogue sessions, books, courses, etc.

Product Pricing

The pricing for our courses varies based upon the number of course titles or the courseware bundle licensed by a customer, the number of users and the length of the license agreement (generally one, two or three years). Our license agreements permit customers to exchange course titles, generally on the contract anniversary date. Some product features, such as SkillPort, KnowledgeCenter Portals, SkillSoft Leadership Advantage portal, SkillStudio, SkillSoft Dialogue and courseware hosting, are separately licensed for an additional fee.

The pricing for our SkillChoice Solution license varies based on the content offering selected by the customer, the number of users within the customer’s organization and the length of the license agreement. Our SkillChoice Solution license provides customers access to a full range of learning products including courseware, Books24x7, simulations, mentoring, TestPreps and Express Guides.

Books24x7 and Leadership Development Channel licenses give users access to the full library within one or more collections (ITPro, BusinessPro, FinancePro, OfficeEssentials, etc.). The pricing for our Books24x7 and Leadership Development Channel licenses varies based on the collections specified by a customer, the number of users within the customer’s organization and the length of the license agreement.

Sales and Marketing

In the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010, our products were sold in 61 countries. Our primary sales channels consist of a direct field sales force for larger accounts, a telesales group for small to medium-sized business accounts and resellers that address certain opportunities in the United States and some international markets.

We believe this strategy enables us to focus our resources on the largest sales opportunities, while simultaneously leveraging the telesales model and reseller channels to address opportunities that may not be cost-effective for us to pursue through the direct field sales organization.

 
As of January 31, 2010, we employed 406 sales, sales operations, telesales, sales management, marketing, corporate development and solution services personnel globally. In the field sales organization, each account executive reports to either a regional sales director or regional sales vice president who is responsible for revenue growth and expense control for his or her area. Our sales professionals have significant sales experience as well as extensive contacts within the corporate customers that we target. The sales process for an initial sale to a large customer typically ranges from three to 12 months and often involves a coordinated effort among a number of groups within our organization.

We use sophisticated sales force automation software to track each prospect and customer through a sales cycle covering the following seven stages: prospect, qualify, discovery, evaluation, proposal, negotiate and close. Our senior sales executives hold review meetings throughout each quarter with our regional sales vice presidents and in some cases their account executives to assess their 90-day forecast, 120-day pipeline development and longer term territory strategy. Our regional sales vice presidents, regional sales directors and their account executives typically confer regularly throughout the quarter to review progress toward quarterly goals and longer term business objectives and for coaching sessions.

We have an office in the United Kingdom that serves as the hub of our Europe and Middle East sales operations. We also have an office in Melbourne, Australia that serves as the hub for our Asia-Pacific operations. In order to accelerate our worldwide market penetration, our sales strategy includes developing relationships to access indirect sales channels such as reseller and distributor partners. Our indirect sales channels give us access to a more diverse client base, which we otherwise would not be able to reach in a cost-effective manner through our direct sales force. Our development and marketing partners also generally have the right to resell products developed under their alliances with us.

We have telesales groups located in Scottsdale, Arizona and Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada that have been established to target opportunities with small to medium-sized businesses.

Our marketing organization utilizes a variety of programs to support our global sales team. As of January 31, 2010, our global marketing organization consisted of 33 employees. Our marketing programs include:

 
Customer advisory forums and user group events;

 
Product and strategy updates with industry analysts;

 
Public relations activities resulting in articles in trade press and speaking engagements;

 
Print advertising in trade publications;

 
Printed promotional materials and direct mail;

 
Online marketing in the form of Web banners, content syndication, email sponsorships, newsletters and key-word buying on search engines;

 
A marketing automation system that allows us to track the effectiveness of various online marketing campaigns and website Activities; and

 
Events, seminars and trade shows.

No customer accounted for more than 2% of our revenue for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010. See Note 13 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for a discussion of our revenue by geographic area.

Backlog

We ended each of the fiscal years ended January 31, 2010 and 2009 with non-cancelable backlog of approximately $239 million. Backlog is calculated by combining the amount of deferred revenue at each fiscal year end with the amounts to be added to deferred revenue throughout the next twelve months from billings under committed customer contracts and determining how much of these amounts are scheduled to amortize into revenue during the upcoming fiscal year. The amount scheduled to amortize into revenue during fiscal 2011 is disclosed as “backlog” as of January 31, 2010. Amounts to be added to deferred revenue during fiscal 2011 include subsequent installment billings for ongoing contract periods as well as billings for committed contract renewals.

Customer Service and Support

We offer a broad range of support and services to our customers across the e-learning lifecycle through our consulting service, application engineering and customer support organization. We believe that providing a high level of customer service and support is necessary to achieve rapid product implementation, full product utilization, measurable customer satisfaction and continued revenue growth.

 
Application engineering.  We have application engineers available to assist customers with the technical aspects of installing, deploying and integrating our products. These engineers assist in evaluating the customers’ environment and integration opportunities to ensure that our products will interoperate successfully, as well as assist with the integration of our products with third party LMSs, customer portals and enterprise software systems.

Learning consulting.  We employ learning consultants to assist customers in planning and implementing best practices for e-learning program success. These individuals assist with the implementation of pilot programs and customer training initiatives, and offer expertise in establishing training success criteria, planning internal marketing programs and communicating with e-learning end users. Our learning consultants work in close coordination with our application engineers and sales representatives and are an important component of our efforts to monitor and ensure customer satisfaction and success.

Customer support.  We provide Web-based, live telephone, e-mail and chat support to our customers through our customer support organization. They are available to assist customers seven days per week, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

As of January 31, 2010, our consulting service, customer support, application engineering and strategic services organization consisted of 220 people globally.

Competition

The market for corporate education and training products is fragmented and highly competitive. We expect that competition in this market will remain intense in the future for the following reasons:

 
The expected growth of this market will attract new entrants;

 
Our course content providers are often not prohibited from developing courses on similar topics for other companies, provided that they do not use our toolkit or templates; and

 
The tremendously fragmented nature of the competitive landscape, including many competitors in the e-learning segment of the market.

One source of competition for our products is the internal educational and technological personnel of our potential customers. If an organization decides to use external providers to supply some or all of its training, our principal sources of competition in the corporate education and training market are:

 
Providers of traditional classroom instruction, including American Management Association, AchieveGlobal, ESI, DDI, New Horizons, Cegos, Richardson and GlobalKnowledge. Many of the companies in this category are attempting to adapt their courses to e-learning formats suitable for access via Web browsers or offer e-learning courses in conjunction with their instructor-led training and, in general, compete for the same training dollars in the customer’s budget.

 
Technology companies such as IBM, Cisco, Oracle, Adobe VMware, SAP, CompTIA and Microsoft that offer e-learning courses.

 
Suppliers of online corporate education and training courses, including NIIT, Thirdforce, Cengage, Harvard Business Publishing, SAI Global, Ninth House Corpedia, Inquestra, RGI Learning, The Projects Group, CrossKnowledge, Brightline Compliance Solutions, Vivid Learning Systems, Kesdee, Zoologic, The Quality Group, PureSafety, K Alliance, Kaplan, QuickCert and many more. Our Books24x7 business competes with companies such as Safari, a joint venture between Pearson Technology Group and O’Reilly & Associates, which offers aggregated IT and business content primarily consisting of its own titles on a subscription basis. Other companies that compete with one or more Books24x7 collections include Knovel, which offers an Engineering collection, and getAbstract and BusinessBook Review, both of which offer condensed summaries of business books. NIIT offers a competitive online book collection that consists of a combination of their own products, Safari, getAbstract and books from book publishers with which NIIT has established licenses.

 
With our SkillSoft Dialogue product, we are competing with companies such as WebEx (now a part of Cisco), Saba, Interwise (now a part of AT&T) Adobe, Citrix and Microsoft; and with rapid content development technology suppliers such as Adobe Captivate, Articulate Studio and Microsoft PowerPoint.

 
With our SkillPort LMS platform technology, we compete with other suppliers of LMS products such as SumTotal, Saba, Plateau, GeoLearning, Oracle, SAP, IBM, Cornerstone OnDemand, Learn.com, Blackboard, CertPoint, Element K, Geometrix, LearnShare, Meridian Knowledge Solutions, NetDimensions, Operitel, RWD Technologies, SilkRoad, SoftScape, TechnoMedia, and TEDS.
 
.

 
We believe that the principal competitive factors in the corporate education and training market include:

 
The breadth, depth, currency and instructional design quality of the course content;

 
Informal performance support and other features of the training solution;

 
Adaptability, flexibility, reliability, scalability and performance of technology platforms offered;

 
Standards compliance and ease-of-integration with third party systems and customer learning portals;

 
The deployment options offered to customers, such as hosted, intranet and low bandwidth access;

 
Customer service and support;

 
Price/value relationship;

 
Relationships with the customer; and

 
Corporate reputation.

Although we believe that we currently compete favorably with respect to those factors, we may not be able to maintain or improve our competitive position. Some of our current and potential competitors have greater financial resources than we do. Increased competition may result in lost sales and may force us to lower prices, which may adversely affect our business and financial performance.

Product Development

We believe that the development of effective training content requires the convergence of source material, instructional design methodologies and computer technology. When developing a new learning path or product, we first obtain content from our content partners or other subject matter experts, existing courses and product reference materials. Our design and development teams then define the user-focused performance objectives and select the content, instructional strategies, learning activities and assessments appropriate for the intended learning outcomes. This process includes the creation of design documents, scripts and in some cases storyboards to document the planned content sequence, instructional flow and interactive presentation and practice strategies. The design and development team includes subject matter experts, learning designers, technical writers and developers, graphic designers, animators, content editors and quality assurance reviewers. After final assembly or integration of all course components into a completed course, we test to ensure all functional capabilities work as designed and deliver the desired learning experience and result.

The core element of our learning solution development process is our design and development process and the tools we use to support that process. Our design, development and production tools are comprised of our proprietary software and off-the-shelf tools. Our combination of development toolsets allows us to quickly and efficiently create and continually update modular learning events and enhance, on an ongoing basis, the multimedia content of such learning events. Our research and development goal is to further enhance our product development process and tools to facilitate the continual evolution of our offerings and ensure that our instructional products incorporate a wide variety of meaningful and effective instructional elements. We primarily use a network of content development partners to produce content for our business and IT skills curriculums. Our content development partners use SkillSoft-defined methods and tools to develop content based on instructional design and quality standards defined by our content development team. Course content is supplied by us, by other companies from which we have licensed content, or by our development partners, based on an outline jointly defined by our development partners and SkillSoft.

Our research and development efforts also include a focus on the design, development and integration of other key product elements, including online IT mentoring by certified content experts, task-based IT simulations and labs, KnowledgeCenters, SkillSoft Leadership Advantage portal, Business Impact and Challenge Series products, business skills focused SkillSims, certification TestPrep for IT and online Books24x7 assets for business and IT skills.

Our approach to technology begins with the understanding that the ability of our customers to deploy our e-learning applications and content is a critical factor in their success with our products. To meet our customers’ varied needs, we strive to enable our courses to be able to be delivered online using standard Web browsers downloaded for off-line usage, or distributed via CD-ROM.

 
Through careful technology selection, product design and exhaustive compatibility testing, we ensure our products can be deployed on the vast majority of corporate desktop computers and without requiring the installation of specialized plug-ins whenever possible, and can be delivered over the varied and complex network infrastructures in existence today. As technologies and standards evolve, we continuously review those changes and consider adapting our products when possible to ensure compatibility.

We employ compression technologies for our media components and design our products to operate effectively over low bandwidth network environments. In this way, we reach a broader number of users with our products and minimize the load on our customers’ networks.

Deployment flexibility is also achieved by adhering to industry standards such as AICC and SCORM. Our e-learning course content is designed for integration with third party learning management systems as well as with our e-learning platform products.

The majority of the content for our Books24x7 product offerings is licensed from third party publishers. Certain research and development activities are conducted by internal teams located in our main product development centers in Dublin, Ireland; Nashua, New Hampshire; Belfast, Northern Ireland and Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. In addition to our internal efforts, we outsource various aspects of our content development process to third parties.

As of January 31, 2010, the number of employees in our product development organization totaled 303. We intend to continue to make substantial investments in research and development. Product development expenses were approximately $49.6 million, $49.5 million and $43.8 million for the fiscal years ended January 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Proprietary Rights

We believe that proprietary technology forms an important or valuable part of most of our business skills and IT skills courseware offerings. We further believe that the creative skills of our personnel in developing new products and technologies, our ability to develop and introduce new products rapidly and our responsiveness to customer demands are equally important. We protect our technology by various means, including entering into agreements with employees to protect against disclosure of sensitive business information. We have eight United States patents and 24 foreign patents relating to computer-based training technologies and methods, and nine United States and foreign patent applications pending relating to computer-based training technologies and methods. We also have one nationalized Patent Cooperation Treaty application.

We attempt to avoid infringing upon intellectual property and proprietary rights of third parties in our product development efforts. However, we do not conduct comprehensive patent searches to determine whether the technology used in our products infringes patents held by third parties. In addition, product development is inherently uncertain in a rapidly evolving technological environment in which there may be numerous patent applications pending, some of which are confidential when filed, with regard to similar technologies. If our products violate third-party proprietary rights, we could be liable for substantial damages. In addition, we may be required to reengineer our products or seek to obtain licenses to continue offering the products, and those efforts may not be successful.

We currently license certain technologies from third parties — including data compression technologies and tools for developing Web applications — and some course content that we incorporate into our products. We also license content for our Books24x7 product offerings from third party publishers. This technology and content may not continue to be available to us on commercially reasonable terms. The loss of this technology or content could result in delays in development and introduction of new products or product enhancements, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial performance. Moreover, we may face claims from others that the third-party technology or content incorporated in our products violates proprietary rights held by those claimants. We may also face claims for indemnification from our customers resulting from infringement claims against them based on the incorporation of third-party technology or content in our products. Although we are generally indemnified against such claims, in some cases the scope of that indemnification is limited. Even if we receive broad indemnification, third parties contractually obligated to indemnify us are not always well capitalized and may not be able to indemnify us in the event of infringement. In addition, such claims, even if not meritorious, could result in the expenditure of significant financial and managerial resources in addition to potential product redevelopment costs and delays, all of which could materially adversely affect our business.

SkillSoft, Books24x7, SkillPort, SkillChoice, RolePlay and Search-and-Learn are registered trademarks and/or service marks of SkillSoft.

 
Employees

As of January 31, 2010, we employed 1,085 people globally.

At January 31, 2010, 406 employees were engaged in sales, sales operations, sales management, marketing, solution services, telesales and corporate development; 156 were in finance, administration, business applications and IT; 220 employees were in customer service and support, application engineering and strategic services and 303 were in product development, custom solutions, mentoring, production and hosting.

As of January 31, 2010, 574 employees were located in the United States and 511 in our international locations. None of our employees are subject to a collective bargaining agreement and we have not experienced any work stoppages. We believe that our employee relations are good.

Our future success will depend in large part on the continued service of our key management, sales, product development and operational personnel and on our ability to attract, motivate and retain highly qualified employees. We also depend on writers, programmers and graphic artists. We expect to continue to hire additional product development, sales and marketing, information services, accounting staff and other resources as we deem appropriate to meet our business objectives.


Investors should carefully consider the risks described below before making an investment decision with respect to our shares.

RISKS RELATED TO THE OPERATION OF OUR BUSINESS

IF OUR ANNOUNCED ACQUISITION IS DELAYED OR NOT COMPLETED, OUR BUSINESS AND THE MARKET PRICE OF OUR ADSs COULD BE ADVERSELY AFFECTED.

 
On February 12, 2010, we announced that we had reached agreement on the terms of a recommended acquisition of SkillSoft by SSI Investments III Limited. There are a number of risks and uncertainties relating to the proposed acquisition, including the possibility that the transaction is delayed or not completed as a result of our failure to obtain necessary approval of our shareholders, our failure to obtain or any delay in obtaining necessary regulatory clearances or our failure to satisfy other closing conditions. We have incurred significant expenditures related to the acquisition. Any delay in completing, or failure to complete, the acquisition could have a negative impact on our business, our ADS price, and our relationships with customers or employees. In addition, under certain circumstances, if the transaction is terminated, we may be required to pay significant expense reimbursement to SSI Investments III Limited.

OUR QUARTERLY OPERATING RESULTS MAY FLUCTUATE SIGNIFICANTLY, LIMITING YOUR ABILITY TO EVALUATE HISTORICAL FINANCIAL RESULTS AND INCREASING THE LIKELIHOOD THAT OUR RESULTS WILL FALL BELOW MARKET ANALYSTS’ EXPECTATIONS, WHICH COULD CAUSE THE PRICE OF OUR ADSs TO DROP RAPIDLY AND SEVERELY.

In the past we have experienced fluctuations in our quarterly operating results, and we anticipate that these fluctuations will continue. As a result, we believe that our quarterly revenue, expenses and operating results are likely to vary significantly in the future. If in some future quarters our results of operations are below the expectations of public market analysts and investors, this could have a severe adverse effect on the market price of our ADSs.

Our operating results have historically fluctuated, and our operating results may in the future continue to fluctuate, as a result of factors, which include, without limitation:

 
the size and timing of new/renewal agreements and upgrades;

 
royalty rates;

 
the announcement, introduction and acceptance of new products, product enhancements and technologies by us and our competitors;

 
the mix of sales between our field sales force, our other direct sales channels and our telesales channels;

 
general conditions in the U.S. or the international economy;

 
the loss of significant customers;

 
delays in availability of new products;
 
 
 
product or service quality problems;

 
seasonality — due to the budget and purchasing cycles of our customers, we expect our revenue and operating results will generally be strongest in the second half of our fiscal year and weakest in the first half of our fiscal year;

 
the spending patterns of our customers;

 
litigation costs and expenses;

 
non-recurring charges related to acquisitions;

 
growing competition that may result in price reductions; and

 
currency fluctuations.

Most of our expenses, such as rent and most employee compensation, do not vary directly with revenue and are difficult to adjust in the short-term. As a result, if revenue for a particular quarter is below our expectations, we could not proportionately reduce operating expenses for that quarter. Any such revenue shortfall would, therefore, have a disproportionate effect on our expected operating results for that quarter.

PAST AND FUTURE ACQUISITIONS MAY NOT PRODUCE THE BENEFITS WE ANTICIPATE AND COULD HARM OUR CURRENT OPERATIONS.

One aspect of our business strategy is to pursue acquisitions of businesses or technologies that will contribute to our future growth. However, we may not be successful in identifying or consummating attractive acquisition opportunities. Moreover, any acquisitions we do consummate may not produce benefits commensurate with the purchase price we pay or our expectations for the acquisition. In addition, acquisitions involve numerous risks, including:

 
difficulties in integrating the technologies, operations, financial controls and personnel of the acquired company;

 
difficulties in retaining or transitioning customers and employees of the acquired company;

 
diversion of management time and focus;

 
the incurrence of unanticipated expenses associated with the acquisition or the assumption of unknown liabilities or unanticipated financial, accounting or other problems of the acquired company; and

 
accounting charges related to the acquisition, including restructuring charges, transaction costs, write-offs of in-process research and development costs, and subsequent impairment charges relating to goodwill or other intangible assets acquired in the transaction.

DEMAND FOR OUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES IS ESPECIALLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO GENERAL GLOBAL MARKET AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS.

Weakness in the United States and/or worldwide economy has had and could continue to have a negative effect on demand for our products and our results of operations. Companies may not view training products and services as critical to the success of their businesses. If these companies continue experience disappointing operating results, whether as a result of adverse economic conditions, competitive issues or other factors, they may decrease or forego education and training expenditures before limiting their other expenditures or in conjunction with lowering other expenses. In addition, during economic downturns, customers may slow the rate at which they pay vendors or may become unable to pay their debts as they become due, which would have a negative effect on our results.

INCREASED COMPETITION MAY RESULT IN DECREASED DEMAND FOR OUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES, WHICH MAY RESULT IN REDUCED REVENUE AND GROSS PROFITS AND LOSS OF MARKET SHARE.

The market for corporate education and training solutions is highly fragmented and competitive. We expect the market to become increasingly competitive due to the lack of significant barriers to entry. In addition to increased competition from new companies entering into the market, established companies are entering into the market through acquisitions of smaller companies, which directly compete with us, and this trend is expected to continue. We may also face competition from publishing companies, vendors of application software and human resource outsourcers, including those vendors with whom we have formed development and marketing alliances.

 
Our primary sources of direct competition are:

 
third-party suppliers of instructor-led information technology, business, management and professional skills education and training;

 
technology companies that offer learning courses covering their own technology products;

 
suppliers of computer-based training and e-learning solutions;

 
internal education, training departments and human resources outsourcers of potential customers; and

 
value-added resellers and network integrators.

Growing competition may result in price reductions, reduced revenue and gross profits and loss of market share, any one of which would have a material adverse effect on our business. Many of our current and potential competitors have substantially greater financial, technical, sales, marketing and other resources, as well as greater name recognition, and we expect to face increasing price pressures from competitors as managers demand more value for their training budgets. Accordingly, we may be unable to provide e-learning solutions that compare favorably with new instructor-led techniques, other interactive training software or new e-learning solutions.

WE RELY ON A LIMITED NUMBER OF THIRD PARTIES TO PROVIDE US WITH EDUCATIONAL CONTENT FOR OUR COURSES AND REFERENCEWARE, AND OUR ALLIANCES WITH THESE THIRD PARTIES MAY BE TERMINATED OR FAIL TO MEET OUR REQUIREMENTS.
 
We rely on a limited number of independent third parties to provide us with the educational content for a majority of our courses based on learning objectives and specific instructional design templates that we provide to them. We do not have exclusive arrangements or long-term contracts with any of these content providers. If one or more of our third party content providers were to stop working with us, we would have to rely on other parties to develop our course content. In addition, these providers may fail to develop new courses or existing courses on a timely basis. We cannot predict whether new content or enhancements would be available from reliable alternative sources on reasonable terms. In addition, our subsidiary, Books24x7 relies on third party publishers to provide all of the content incorporated into its Referenceware products. If one or more of these publishers were to terminate their license with us, we may not be able to find substitute publishers for such content. In addition, we may be forced to pay increased royalties to these publishers to continue our licenses with them.

In the event that we are unable to maintain or expand our current development alliances or enter into new development alliances, our operating results and financial condition could be materially adversely affected. Furthermore, we will be required to pay royalties to some of our development partners on products developed with them, which could reduce our gross margins. We expect that cost of revenue may fluctuate from period to period in the future based upon many factors, including the revenue mix and the timing of expenses associated with development alliances. In addition, the collaborative nature of the development process under these alliances may result in longer development times and less control over the timing of product introductions than for e-learning offerings developed solely by us. Our strategic alliance partners may from time to time renegotiate the terms of their agreements with us, which could result in changes to the royalty or other arrangements, adversely affecting our results of operations.

The independent third party strategic partners we rely on for educational content and product marketing may compete with us, harming our results of operations. Our agreements with these third parties generally do not restrict them from developing courses on similar topics for our competitors or from competing directly with us. As a result, our competitors may be able to duplicate some of our course content and gain a competitive advantage.

 
OUR SUCCESS DEPENDS ON OUR ABILITY TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THE RAPIDLY CHANGING MARKET.

The market for education and training software is characterized by rapidly changing technology, evolving industry standards, changes in customer requirements and preferences and frequent introductions of new products and services embodying new technologies. New methods of providing interactive education in a technology-based format are being developed and offered in the marketplace, including intranet and Internet offerings. In addition, multimedia and other product functionality features are being added to educational software. Our future success will depend upon the extent to which we are able to develop and implement products which address these emerging market requirements on a cost effective and timely basis. Product development is risky because it is difficult to foresee developments in technology coordinate technical personnel and identify and eliminate design flaws. Any significant delay in releasing new products could have a material adverse effect on the ultimate success of our products and could reduce sales of predecessor products. We may not be successful in introducing new products on a timely basis. In addition, new products introduced by us may fail to achieve a significant degree of market acceptance or, once accepted, may fail to sustain viability in the market for any significant period. If we are unsuccessful in addressing the changing needs of the marketplace due to resource, technological or other constraints, or in anticipating and responding adequately to changes in customers’ software technology and preferences, our business and results of operations would be materially adversely affected. We, along with the rest of the industry, face a challenging and competitive market for IT spending that has resulted in reduced contract value for our formal learning product lines. This pricing pressure has a negative impact on revenue for these product lines and may have a continued or increased adverse impact in the future.
 
 
THE E-LEARNING MARKET IS A DEVELOPING MARKET, AND OUR BUSINESS WILL SUFFER IF E-LEARNING IS NOT WIDELY ACCEPTED.

The market for e-learning is a new and emerging market. Corporate training and education have historically been conducted primarily through classroom instruction and have traditionally been performed by a company’s internal personnel. Many companies have invested heavily in their current training solutions. Although technology-based training applications have been available for several years, they currently account for only a small portion of the overall training market.

Accordingly, our future success will depend upon the extent to which companies adopt technology-based solutions for their training activities, and the extent to which companies utilize the services or purchase products of third-party providers. Many companies that have already invested substantial resources in traditional methods of corporate training may be reluctant to adopt a new strategy that may compete with their existing investments. Even if companies implement technology-based training or e-learning solutions, they may still choose to design, develop, deliver or manage all or part of their education and training internally. If technology-based learning does not become widespread, or if companies do not use the products and services of third parties to develop, deliver or manage their training needs, then our products and service may not achieve commercial success.

NEW PRODUCTS INTRODUCED BY US MAY NOT BE SUCCESSFUL.

An important part of our growth strategy is the development and introduction of new products that open up new revenue streams for us. Despite our efforts, we cannot assure you that we will be successful in developing and introducing new products, or that any new products we do introduce will meet with commercial acceptance. The failure to successfully introduce new products will not only hamper our growth prospects but may also adversely impact our net income due to the development and marketing expenses associated with those new products.

THE SUCCESS OF OUR E-LEARNING STRATEGY DEPENDS ON THE RELIABILITY AND CONSISTENT PERFORMANCE OF OUR INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND INTERNET INFRASTRUCTURE.

The success of our e-learning strategy is highly dependent on the consistent performance of our information systems and Internet infrastructure. If our website fails for any reason or if it experiences any unscheduled downtimes, even for only a short period, our business and reputation could be materially harmed. We have in the past experienced performance problems and unscheduled downtime, and these problems could recur. We currently rely on third parties for proper functioning of computer infrastructure, delivery of our e-learning applications and the performance of our destination site. Our systems and operations could be damaged or interrupted by fire, flood, power loss, telecommunications failure, break-ins, earthquake, financial patterns of hosting providers and similar events. Any system failures could adversely affect customer usage of our solutions and user traffic results in any future quarters, which could adversely affect our revenue and operating results and harm our reputation with corporate customers, subscribers and commerce partners. Accordingly, the satisfactory performance, reliability and availability of our website and computer infrastructure are critical to our reputation and ability to attract and retain corporate customers, subscribers and commerce partners. We cannot accurately project the rate or timing of any increases in traffic to our website and, therefore, the integration and timing of any upgrades or enhancements required to facilitate any significant traffic increase to the website are uncertain. We have in the past experienced difficulties in upgrading our website infrastructure to handle increased traffic, and these difficulties could recur. The failure to expand and upgrade our website or any system error, failure or extended down time could materially harm our business, reputation, financial condition or results of operations.
 
 
 
BECAUSE MANY USERS OF OUR E-LEARNING SOLUTIONS WILL ACCESS THEM OVER THE INTERNET, FACTORS ADVERSELY AFFECTING THE USE OF THE INTERNET OR OUR CUSTOMERS’ NETWORKING INFRASTRUCTURES COULD HARM OUR BUSINESS.

Many of our customers’ users access our e-learning solutions over the Internet or through our customers’ internal networks. Any factors that adversely affect Internet usage could disrupt the ability of those users to access our e-learning solutions, which would adversely affect customer satisfaction and therefore our business.

For example, our ability to increase the effectiveness and scope of our services to customers is ultimately limited by the speed and reliability of both the Internet and our customers’ internal networks. Consequently, the emergence and growth of the market for our products and services depends upon the improvements being made to the entire Internet as well as to our individual customers’ networking infrastructures to alleviate overloading and congestion. If these improvements are not made, and the quality of networks degrades, the ability of our customers to use our products and services will be hindered and our revenue may suffer.

Additionally, a requirement for the continued growth of accessing e-learning solutions over the Internet is the secure transmission of confidential information over public networks. Failure to prevent security breaches into our products or our customers’ networks, or well-publicized security breaches affecting the Internet in general could significantly harm our growth and revenue. Advances in computer capabilities, new discoveries in the field of cryptography or other developments may result in a compromise of technology we use to protect content and transactions, our products or our customers’ proprietary information in our databases. Anyone who is able to circumvent our security measures could misappropriate proprietary and confidential information or could cause interruptions in our operations. We may be required to expend significant capital and other resources to protect against such security breaches or to address problems caused by security breaches. The privacy of users may also deter people from using the Internet to conduct transactions that involve transmitting confidential information.

WE DEPEND ON A FEW KEY PERSONNEL TO MANAGE AND OPERATE THE BUSINESS AND MUST BE ABLE TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN HIGHLY QUALIFIED EMPLOYEES.

Our success is largely dependent on the personal efforts and abilities of our senior management. Failure to retain these executives, or the loss of certain additional senior management personnel or other key employees, could have a material adverse effect on our business and future prospects. We are also dependent on the continued service of our key sales, content development and operational personnel and on our ability to attract, train, motivate and retain highly qualified employees. In addition, we depend on writers, programmers, Web designers and graphic artists. We may be unsuccessful in attracting, training, retaining or motivating key personnel. The inability to hire, train and retain qualified personnel or the loss of the services of key personnel could have a material adverse effect upon our business, new product development efforts and future business prospects.

OUR BUSINESS IS SUBJECT TO CURRENCY FLUCTUATIONS THAT HAVE, AND COULD CONTINUE TO, ADVERSELY AFFECT OUR OPERATING RESULTS.

Due to our multinational operations, our operating results are subject to fluctuations based upon changes in the exchange rates between the currencies in which revenue is collected or expenses are paid. In particular, the value of the U.S. dollar against the Euro, pound sterling, Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar, Singapore dollar and related currencies will impact our operating results. Our expenses will not necessarily be incurred in the currency in which revenue is generated, and, as a result, we will be required from time to time to convert currencies to meet our obligations. These currency conversions are subject to exchange rate fluctuations, and changes to the value of these currencies and other currencies relative to the U.S. dollar have and could continue to adversely affect our business and results of operations.

LEGISLATION HAS BEEN INTRODUCED IN THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS THAT COULD, IF ENACTED IN ITS CURRENT FORM, SUBJECT US TO TAXATION AS A U.S. CORPORATION, WHICH COULD ADVERSELY AFFECT OUR FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
 
We are aware of several bills proposed in Congress that seek to prevent U.S. companies from taking advantage of the lower tax rates in foreign jurisdictions. One of these proposed bills would, if enacted in its current form, tax a foreign corporation as domestic if it is publicly traded and managed and controlled in the U.S. At this point, it is impossible to tell whether any of the proposed bills will be enacted into law, or whether the provisions of any enacted bill would apply to SkillSoft. In addition, we believe that if any such bill does become law, it would not take effect for several years. If any tax legislation of this nature is ultimately adopted, we would assess its impact on us and take steps, where appropriate, to mitigate such impact. However, it is possible that we could become subject to additional taxes as a result of the adoption of such legislation.

 
 
WE MAY BE UNABLE TO PROTECT OUR PROPRIETARY RIGHTS. UNAUTHORIZED USE OF OUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY MAY RESULT IN DEVELOPMENT OF PRODUCTS OR SERVICES THAT COMPETE WITH OURS.

Our success depends to a degree upon the protection of our rights in intellectual property. We rely upon a combination of patent, copyright, and trademark laws to protect our proprietary rights. We have also entered into, and will continue to enter into, confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants and third parties to seek to limit and protect the distribution of confidential information. However, we have not signed protective agreements in every case.

Although we have taken steps to protect our proprietary rights, these steps may be inadequate. Existing patent, copyright, and trademark laws offer only limited protection. Moreover, the laws of other countries in which we market our products may afford little or no effective protection of our intellectual property. Additionally, unauthorized parties may copy aspects of our products, services or technology or obtain and use information that we regard as proprietary. Other parties may also breach protective contracts we have executed or will in the future execute. We may not become aware of, or have adequate remedies in the event of, a breach. Litigation may be necessary in the future to enforce or to determine the validity and scope of our intellectual property rights or to determine the validity and scope of the proprietary rights of others. Even if we were to prevail, such litigation could result in substantial costs and diversion of management and technical resources.

OUR WORLDWIDE OPERATIONS ARE SUBJECT TO RISKS WHICH COULD NEGATIVELY IMPACT OUR FUTURE OPERATING RESULTS.

We expect that international operations will continue to account for a significant portion of our revenue and are subject to inherent risks, including:

 
difficulties or delays in developing and supporting non-English language versions of our products and services;

 
political and economic conditions in various jurisdictions;

 
difficulties in staffing and managing foreign subsidiary operations;

 
longer sales cycles and account receivable payment cycles;

 
multiple, conflicting and changing governmental laws and regulations;

 
foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations;

 
protectionist laws and business practices that may favor local competitors;

 
difficulties in finding and managing local resellers;

 
potential adverse tax consequences; and

 
the absence or significant lack of legal protection for intellectual property rights.

Any of these factors could have a material adverse effect on our future operations outside of the United States, which could negatively impact our future operating results.

OUR SALES CYCLE MAY MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO PREDICT OUR OPERATING RESULTS.

The period between our initial contact with a potential customer and the purchase of our products by that customer typically ranges from three to twelve months or more. Factors that contribute to our long sales cycle, include:

 
our need to educate potential customers about the benefits of our products;

 
competitive evaluations by customers;

 
the customers’ internal budgeting and approval processes;

 
the fact that many customers view training products as discretionary spending, rather than purchases essential to their business; and

 
the fact that we target large companies, which often take longer to make purchasing decisions due to the size and complexity of the enterprise.

 
These long sales cycles make it difficult to predict the quarter in which sales may occur. Delays in sales could cause significant variability in our revenue and operating results for any particular period.

OUR BUSINESS COULD BE ADVERSELY AFFECTED IF OUR PRODUCTS CONTAIN ERRORS.

Software products as complex as ours contain known and undetected errors or “bugs” that result in product failures. The existence of bugs could result in loss of or delay in revenue, loss of market share, diversion of product development resources, injury to reputation or damage to efforts to build brand awareness, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition.

RISKS RELATED TO LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

CLAIMS THAT WE INFRINGE UPON THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS OF OTHERS COULD RESULT IN COSTLY LITIGATION OR ROYALTY PAYMENTS TO THIRD PARTIES, OR REQUIRE US TO REENGINEER OR CEASE SALES OF OUR PRODUCTS OR SERVICES.

Third parties have in the past and could in the future claim that our current or future products infringe their intellectual property rights. Any claim, with or without merit, could result in costly litigation or require us to reengineer or cease sales of our products or services, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business. Infringement claims could also result in an injunction barring the sale of our products or require us to enter into royalty or licensing agreements. Licensing agreements, if required, may not be available on terms acceptable to the combined company or at all.

From time to time we learn of parties that claim broad intellectual property rights in the e-learning area that might implicate our offerings. These parties or others could initiate actions against us in the future.

WE COULD INCUR SUBSTANTIAL COSTS RESULTING FROM PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIMS RELATING TO OUR CUSTOMERS’ USE OF OUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES.

Many of the business interactions supported by our products and services are critical to our customers’ businesses. Any failure in a customer’s business interaction or other collaborative activity caused or allegedly caused in the future by our products and services could result in a claim for substantial damages against us, regardless of our responsibility for the failure. Although we maintain general liability insurance, including coverage for errors and omissions, there can be no assurance that existing coverage will continue to be available on reasonable terms or will be available in amounts sufficient to cover one or more large claims, or that the insurer will not disclaim coverage as to any future claim.

WE COULD BE SUBJECTED TO LEGAL ACTIONS BASED UPON THE CONTENT WE OBTAIN FROM THIRD PARTIES OVER WHOM WE EXERT LIMITED CONTROL.

It is possible that we could become subject to legal actions based upon claims that our course content infringes the rights of others or is erroneous. Any such claims, with or without merit, could subject us to costly litigation and the diversion of our financial resources and management personnel. The risk of such claims is exacerbated by the fact that our course content is provided by third parties over whom we exert limited control. Further, if those claims are successful, we may be required to alter the content, pay financial damages or obtain content from others.

IN PRIOR YEARS, SOME OF OUR INTERNATIONAL SUBSIDIARIES HAVE NOT COMPLIED WITH REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO THEIR FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND TAX RETURNS.

We operate our business in various foreign countries through subsidiaries organized in those countries. Due to our restatement of the historical SmartForce financial statements, some of our subsidiaries have been delayed in the filing of their audited statutory financial statements and have been delayed in filing their tax returns in their respective jurisdictions. As a result, some of these foreign subsidiaries may be subject to regulatory restrictions, penalties and fines and additional taxes.

RISKS RELATED TO OUR ADSs

THE MARKET PRICE OF OUR ADSs MAY FLUCTUATE AND MAY NOT BE SUSTAINABLE.

The market price of our ADSs has fluctuated significantly since our initial public offering and is likely to continue to be volatile. In addition, in recent years the stock market in general, and the market for shares of technology stocks in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations, which have often been unrelated to the operating performance of affected companies. The market price of our ADSs may continue to experience significant fluctuations in the future, including fluctuations that are unrelated to our performance. As a result of these fluctuations in the price of our ADSs, it is difficult to predict what the price of our ADSs will be at any point in the future, and you may not be able to sell your ADSs at or above the price that you paid for them.

 
SALES OF LARGE BLOCKS OF OUR ADSs COULD CAUSE THE MARKET PRICE OF OUR ADSs TO DROP SIGNIFICANTLY, EVEN IF OUR BUSINESS IS DOING WELL.

Some shareholders own 5% or more of our outstanding shares. We cannot predict the effect, if any, that public sales of these shares will have on the market price of our ADSs. If our significant shareholders, or our directors and officers, sell substantial amounts of our ADSs in the public market, or if the public perceives that such sales could occur, this could have an adverse impact on the market price of our ADSs, even if there is no relationship between such sales and the performance of our business.
 

Not applicable.


Our United States headquarters are located in Nashua, New Hampshire where we lease an aggregate of 68,755 square feet. We have one lease for 43,355 square feet of space and a second for 25,400 square feet of space. The leases for both locations have been extended to June 2014 and June 2012, respectively. In addition to our U.S. headquarters, our other primary facilities are located in Dublin, Ireland; Norwood, Massachusetts; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada; and Scottsdale, Arizona.

In Ireland, we currently lease and occupy a 20,538 square foot facility in Dublin, which primarily houses our main content development center. In addition, we currently lease one other facility in Dublin totaling approximately 19,116 square feet. This space has been vacated and the operations previously performed in this facility have been consolidated into the 20,538 square foot facility.

In Norwood, Massachusetts, we currently lease and occupy 10,658 square feet. This facility houses the operations of our Books24x7.com, Inc. subsidiary under a lease that expires in December 2010.

In Scottsdale, Arizona, where part of our telesales operation is located, we currently lease a total of 23,517 sq ft. The lease for this location expires in January 2013.

In Canada, we currently lease a total of 47,906 square feet in two buildings in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The Fredericton facility primarily houses our mentoring operations, telesales and certain customer service and support personnel and the lease expires in August 2012.

We also lease sales offices in a number of other countries including the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia and we lease a development office in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

We believe that our existing facilities are adequate to meet our current needs and that suitable additional or substitute space will be available on commercially reasonable terms when needed, including with respect to our Nashua locations.
 
 
SEC Investigation

In January 2007, the Boston District Office of the SEC informed us that we are the subject of an informal investigation concerning option granting practices at SmartForce for the period beginning April 12, 1996 through July 12, 2002, prior to the September 6, 2002 merger of SkillSoft Corporation and SmartForce PLC (the “Option Granting Investigation”). The SEC staff has informed us that the Option Granting Investigation has been closed without any claim being brought against us.

We are not a party to any other material legal proceedings.

 



Our ADSs are listed on the NASDAQ Global Market (NASDAQ) under the symbol “SKIL.” The following table sets forth, for the periods indicated, the high and low intraday sale prices per share of our ADSs as reported by NASDAQ between February 1, 2008 and January 31, 2010.

   
High
   
Low
 
April 30, 2008
 
$
11.42
   
$
8.03
 
July 31, 2008
   
10.95
     
8.30
 
October 31, 2008
   
11.06
     
7.01
 
January 31, 2009
   
8.75
     
5.27
 
April 30, 2009
   
8.97
     
4.84
 
July 31, 2009
   
8.72
     
6.85
 
October 31, 2009
   
10.12
     
8.17
 
January 31, 2010
   
10.99
     
9.10
 

As of February 28, 2010, there were 19 holders of record of ordinary shares.

Dividends

We have not paid any cash dividends on our ordinary shares and do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. We currently intend to retain future earnings, if any, to fund the growth of our business, make payments on our outstanding debt obligations and/or repurchase shares. Dividends may only be declared and paid out of profits available for distribution determined in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in Ireland and applicable Irish Company Law. On May 14, 2007, we entered into a Credit Agreement that contains customary covenants that place limitations on the distribution of income or retained earnings by our consolidated group companies. Any dividends, if and when declared, will be declared and paid in United States dollars. We did not sell unregistered securities during fiscal 2010.
 
Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchases

On April 8, 2008, our shareholders approved the repurchase of up to an aggregate of 10,000,000 ADSs pursuant to a repurchase program. On September 24, 2008, our shareholders approved an increase in the number of shares that may be repurchased under the program to 25,000,000 and an extension of the repurchase program, which ended on March 23, 2010.

During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010, we repurchased ADSs as follows:

Period
 
 
(a)
Total Number of Shares Purchased (1)
 
(b)
Average Price Paid per Share $
 
(c)
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced or Program (2)
 
(d)
Maximum Number of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Program
 
November 1, 2009 - November 30, 2009
 
237,600
 
$
9.76
 
237,600
 
9,946,105
 
December 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009
 
53,700
   
9.92
 
53,700
 
9,892,405
 
January 1, 2010 - January 31, 2010
 
249,368
   
9.88
 
249,368
 
9,643,037
 
Total
 
540,668
 
$
9.83
 
540,668
 
9,643,037
 

(1)           We repurchased ADSs pursuant to a share repurchase program that was approved by our shareholders on April 8, 2008 and amended on September 24, 2008.

(2)           Our shareholders approved the repurchase by us of up to 25,000,000 ADSs at a per share purchase price which complies with the requirements of Rule 10b-18. Unless terminated earlier by resolution of our Board of Directors, the repurchase program will expire on March 23, 2010 or when we have repurchased all shares authorized for repurchase thereunder.

During the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010, we repurchased a total of 4,259,648 and retired 4,841,082 shares, including 830,802 shares repurchased in prior fiscal years.

 
Irish Stamp Duty

Stamp duty, which is a tax on certain documents, is payable on all transfers of ordinary shares in companies registered in Ireland wherever the instrument of transfer may be executed. In the case of a transfer on sale, stamp duty will be charged at the rate of €1 for every €100 (or part thereof) of the amount or value of the purchase price. Where the consideration for the sale is expressed in a currency other than Euro, the duty will be charged on the Euro equivalent calculated at the rate of exchange prevailing on the date of the transfer. In the case of a transfer by way of gift, subject to certain exceptions, or for considerations less than the market value of the shares transferred, stamp duty will be charged at the above rate on such market value.

A transfer or issue of ordinary shares for deposit under the deposit agreements among us, The Bank of New York Mellon, as Depositary, and the registered holders and the owners of a beneficial interest in book-entry American Depositary Receipts, or ADRs, in return for ADRs will be similarly chargeable with stamp duty as will a transfer of ordinary shares from the Depositary or the custodian under the deposit agreements upon surrender of an ADR for the purpose of the withdrawal of the underlying ordinary shares in accordance with the terms of the Deposit Agreement.

 We received a ruling from the Irish Revenue Commissioners that transfers of ADRs issued in respect of our shares will not be chargeable with Irish stamp duty for so long as the ADRs are dealt in and quoted on the NASDAQ Global Market. It has been confirmed in Section 207, Finance Act 1992 that transfers of ADRs will be exempt from stamp duty where the ADRs are dealt with in a recognized stock exchange. The NASDAQ Global Market is regarded by the Irish authorities as a recognized stock exchange for these purposes.

The person accountable for payment of stamp duty is the transferee or, in the case of a transfer by way of gift or for a consideration less than the market value, both parties to the transfer. Stamp duty is normally payable within 30 days after the date of execution of the transfer. Late payment of stamp duty will result in liability to interest, penalties and fines.


Incorporated by reference from Appendix A attached hereto.


The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and notes appearing in Appendix B of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Overview

We are a leading Software as a Service (SaaS) provider of on-demand e-learning and performance support solutions for global enterprises, government, education and small to medium-sized businesses. We enable organizations to maximize performance through a combination of comprehensive e-learning content, online information resources, flexible learning technologies and support services. Our multi-modal learning solutions support and enhance the speed and effectiveness of both formal and informal learning processes and integrate our in-depth content resources, learning management system, virtual classroom technology and support services.
 
We generate revenue primarily from the license of our products, the provision of professional services and the provision of hosting and application services. The pricing for our courses varies based upon the content offering selected by a customer, the number of users within the customer’s organization and the length of the license agreement (generally one, two or three years). Our agreements permit customers to exchange course titles, generally on the contract anniversary date. Hosting services are sold separately for an additional fee.

Cost of revenue includes the cost of materials (such as storage media), packaging, shipping and handling, CD duplication, custom content development, hosting services, royalties, certain infrastructure and occupancy expenses and share-based compensation. We generally recognize these costs as incurred. Also included in cost of revenue is amortization expense related to capitalized software development costs and intangible assets related to developed software and courseware acquired in business combinations.
 
We account for software development costs by capitalizing certain computer software development costs incurred after technological feasibility is established. No software development costs incurred during each of the three years in the period ended January 31, 2010 met the requirements for capitalization.

 
Research and development expenses consist primarily of salaries and benefits, share-based compensation, certain infrastructure and occupancy expenses, fees to consultants and course content development fees. Selling and marketing expenses consist primarily of salaries and benefits, share-based compensation, commissions, advertising and promotion expenses, travel expenses and certain infrastructure and occupancy expenses. General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries and benefits, share-based compensation, consulting and service expenses, legal expenses, audit and tax preparation costs, regulatory compliance costs and certain infrastructure and occupancy expenses.

Amortization of intangible assets represents the amortization of customer value, non-compete agreements, trademarks and tradenames from our acquisitions of NETg, Targeted Learning Corporation (TLC) and GoTrain Corp.

Merger and integration related expenses primarily consist of salaries paid to NETg employees for transitional work assignments, facilities, systems and process integration activities.

Restructuring expenses primarily consist of charges associated with the reduction in force as described in our Form 8-K filed with the SEC on January 20, 2009.

Business Outlook

In the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010, we generated revenue of $315.0 million as compared to $328.5 million in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009. We reported net income in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010 of $71.4 million as compared to $50.8 million in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009.
 
While we have achieved increased net income from last fiscal year’s comparable period, we have experienced during the last year a significantly more cautious customer spending environment due to the current challenging global economic climate. In addition, we continue to find ourselves in a challenging business environment due to (i) budgetary constraints on training and information technology (IT) spending by our current and potential customers, (ii) price competition and value-based competitive offerings from a broad array of competitors in the e-learning market and (iii) the relatively slow overall market adoption rate for e-learning solutions. In recent months, the challenging U.S. and global economic environment has placed further constraints on our customers’ and potential customers’ IT training budgets and spending. We have not yet seen signs of an improving customer environment, but we are also not experiencing continued deterioration. We have also encountered longer sales cycles due to additional customer scrutiny on deals. This has given us less visibility into the overall timing of our sales cycles. Despite these challenges, our net income from last fiscal year was higher than in fiscal 2009, primarily due to a number of actions we took in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 to reduce our cost structure and allow us flexibility to manage our costs in light of the difficult economic conditions we are facing. Despite these cost-saving initiatives and certain expenditures previously planned but delayed during fiscal 2010, we have recently added, and may continue to add, additional sales and development resources in response to the cautious customer spending environment.

Critical Accounting Policies

Our significant accounting policies are more fully described under the heading “Summary of Significant Accounting Policies” in Note 2 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements. However, we believe the accounting policies described below are particularly important to the portrayal and understanding of our financial position and results of operations and require application of significant judgment by our management. In applying these policies, management uses its judgment in making certain assumptions and estimates. 

Revenue Recognition

We generate revenue primarily from the license of our products, the provision of professional services and from the provision of hosting/application service provider (ASP) services.

We follow the provisions of the FASB Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 605 to account for revenue derived pursuant to license agreements under which customers license our products and services. The pricing for our courses varies based upon the content offering selected by a customer, the number of users within the customer’s organization and the term of the license agreement (generally one, two or three years). License agreements permit customers to exchange course titles, generally on the contract anniversary date. Hosting services are sold separately for an additional fee. A license can provide customers access to a range of learning products including courseware, Referenceware®, simulations, mentoring and prescriptive assessment.

We offer discounts from our ordinary pricing, and purchasers of licenses for a larger number of courses, larger user bases or longer periods of time generally receive discounts. Generally, customers may amend their license agreements, for an additional fee, to gain access to additional courses or product lines and/or to increase the size of the user base. We also derive revenue from hosting fees for customers that use our solutions on an ASP basis and from the provision of professional services. In selected circumstances, we derive revenue on a pay-for-use basis under which some customers are charged based on the number of courses accessed by their users.

 
We recognize revenue ratably over the license period if the number of courses that a customer has access to is not clearly defined, available or selected at the inception of the contract, or if the contract has additional undelivered elements for which we do not have vendor specific objective evidence (VSOE) of the fair value of the various elements. This may occur if the customer does not specify all licensed courses at the outset, the customer chooses to wait for future licensed courses on a when and if available basis, the customer is given exchange privileges that are exercisable other than on the contract anniversaries, or the customer licenses all courses currently available and to be developed during the term of the arrangement. Revenue from nearly all of our contractual arrangements is recognized on a subscription or straight-line basis over the contractual period of service.

We also derive revenue from extranet hosting/ASP services, which is recognized on a straight-line basis over the period the services are provided. Upfront fees are recorded as revenue over the contract period.

We generally bill the annual license fee for the first year of a multi-year license agreement in advance and bill license fees for subsequent years of multi-year license arrangements are billed on the anniversary date of the agreement. Occasionally, we bill customers on a quarterly basis. In some circumstances, we offer payment terms of up to six months from the initial shipment date or anniversary date for multi-year license agreements to customers. To the extent that a customer is given extended payment terms (defined by us as greater than six months), revenue is recognized as payments become due, assuming all of the other elements of revenue recognition have been satisfied.

We typically recognize revenue from resellers over the commitment period when both the sale to the end user has occurred and the collectibility of cash from the reseller is probable. With respect to reseller agreements with minimum commitments, we recognize revenue related to the portion of the minimum commitment that exceeds the end user sales at the expiration of the commitment period provided we have received payment. If a definitive service period can be determined, revenue is recognized ratably over the term of the minimum commitment period, provided that payment has been received or collectibility is probable.

We provide professional services, including instructor led training, customized content development, website development/hosting and implementation services. If we determine that the professional services are not separable from an existing customer arrangement, revenue from these services is recognized over the existing contractual terms with the customer; otherwise we typically recognize professional service revenue as the services are performed.

We record reimbursable out-of-pocket expenses in both revenue and as a direct cost of revenue, as applicable.

We record revenue net of applicable sales tax collected. Taxes collected from customers are recorded as part of accrued expenses on the balance sheet and are remitted to state and local taxing jurisdictions based on the filing requirements of each jurisdiction.

We record as deferred revenue amounts that have been billed in advance for products or services to be provided. Deferred revenue includes the unamortized portion of revenue associated with license fees for which we have received payment or for which amounts have been billed and are due for payment in 90 days or less for resellers and 180 days or less for direct customers.

Our contracts often include an uptime guarantee for solutions hosted on our servers whereby customers may be entitled to credits in the event of non-performance. We also retain the right to remedy any nonperformance event prior to issuance of any credit. Historically, we have not incurred substantial costs relating to this guarantee and we currently accrue for such costs as they are incurred. We review these costs on a regular basis as actual experience and other information becomes available; and should these costs become substantial, we would accrue an estimated exposure and consider the potential related effects of the timing of recording revenue on our license arrangements. We have not accrued any costs related to these warranties in the accompanying condensed consolidated financial statements.

Amortization of Intangible Assets and Impairment of Goodwill

Goodwill and intangible assets that have indefinite useful lives are not amortized but are evaluated for impairment annually and upon the occurrence of any events or changes in circumstances that indicate that the carrying value may not be recoverable. We record intangible assets at cost.

Amortization is recorded over the estimated useful lives of the assets. We amortize our intangible assets that have finite lives using either the straight-line method or based on estimated future cash flows to approximate the pattern in which the economic benefit of the asset will be utilized. We review these intangible assets at least annually to determine if any adverse conditions exist or a change in circumstances has occurred that would indicate impairment or a change in their remaining useful life.

 
We use estimates in determining the value of goodwill and intangible assets, including estimates of useful lives of intangible assets, discounted future cash flows and fair values of the related operations. We test goodwill during the fourth quarter of each year for impairment, or more frequently if certain indicators are present or changes in circumstances suggest that impairment may exist. Based upon our fiscal 2010 annual impairment testing analysis, including our consideration of reasonably likely adverse changes in assumptions, management believes it is not reasonably likely that an impairment will occur over the next twelve months.

Share Based Compensation

We use the Black-Scholes option pricing model to estimate the fair value of share option grants. The Black-Scholes model relies on a number of key assumptions to calculate estimated fair values. The estimated fair value of employee share options is amortized to expense using the straight-line method over the vesting period. Our assumed dividend yield of zero is based on the fact that we have never paid cash dividends and have no present intention to pay cash dividends. Our expected share-price volatility assumption is based on a blend of implied volatility, based on exchange-traded options for our shares, and actual historical volatility calculated over a period commensurate with the expected life of our option grants. We believe that using a blended volatility assumption will result in the best estimate of expected volatility. The assumed risk-free interest rate is the U.S. Treasury security rate with a term equal to the expected life of the option. The assumed expected life is based on Company-specific historical experience. With regard to the estimate of the expected life, we consider the exercise behavior of past grants and the pattern of aggregate exercises. We looked at historical option grant cancellation and termination data in order to determine our assumption of forfeiture rate.

If factors change and we employ different assumptions for estimating share-based compensation expense in future periods, or if we decide to use a different valuation model, the share-based compensation expense we recognize in future periods may differ significantly from what we have recorded in the current period and could materially affect our operating income, net income and earnings per share. It may also result in a lack of comparability with other companies that use different models, methods and assumptions. The Black-Scholes option-pricing model was developed for use in estimating the fair value of traded options that have no vesting restrictions and are fully transferable. These characteristics are not present in our option grants. Existing valuation models, including the Black-Scholes model, may not provide reliable measures of the fair values of our share-based compensation. Consequently, there is a risk that our estimates of the fair values of share based awards on the grant dates may bear little resemblance to the actual values realized upon the exercise, expiration, early termination or forfeiture of those share-based payments in the future. Certain share-based payments, such as employee share options, may expire with little or no intrinsic value compared to the fair values originally estimated on the grant date and reported in our financial statements. Alternatively, the value realized from these instruments may be significantly higher than the fair values originally estimated on the grant date and reported in our financial statements. Currently, there is no market-based mechanism or other practical application to verify the reliability and accuracy of the estimates stemming from these valuation models, nor is there a means to compare and adjust the estimates to actual values.

Deferral of Commissions

We defer the recognition of commission expense until such time as the revenue related to the customer contract for which the commission was paid is recognized. Deferred commissions for each contract are amortized to expense in a manner consistent with how revenue is recognized for such contract, often resulting in straight-line recognition of expense over the contractual term.

Derivative Financial Instruments

We record all derivatives on the balance sheet at fair value. The accounting for changes in the fair value of derivatives depends on the intended use of the derivative and the resulting designation. Derivatives used to hedge the exposure to changes in the fair value of an asset, liability or firm commitment attributable to a particular risk, such as interest rate risk, are considered fair value hedges. Derivatives used to hedge the exposure to variability in expected future cash flows, or other types of forecasted transactions, are considered cash flow hedges.

For derivatives designated as fair value hedges, changes in the fair value of the derivative and the hedged item related to the hedged risk are recognized in earnings. For derivatives designated as cash flow hedges, the effective portion of changes in the fair value of the derivative is initially reported in other comprehensive income (outside of earnings) and subsequently reclassified to earnings when the hedged transaction affects earnings, and the ineffective portion of changes in the fair value of the derivative is recognized directly in earnings. We assess the effectiveness of each hedging relationship by comparing the changes in fair value or cash flows of the derivative hedging instrument with the changes in fair value or cash flows of the designated hedged item or transaction. For derivatives not designated as hedges, changes in fair value are recognized in earnings.

 
We entered into an interest rate swap agreement for an amortizing notional amount on May 11, 2007, which we designated as a cash flow hedge relating to our floating rate debt. This interest rate swap agreement expired on December 31, 2009. As of January 31, 2010, no derivatives were designated as fair value hedges or hedges of net investments in foreign operations. Additionally, we do not use derivatives for trading or speculative purposes.

Restructuring Charges

Liabilities related to an exit or disposal activity are recognized at fair value in the period in which they are incurred. Costs include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) one-time involuntary termination benefits provided to employees under the terms of a benefit arrangement that, in substance, are not an ongoing benefit arrangement or a deferred compensation contract, (2) certain contract termination costs, including operating lease termination costs and (3) other associated costs. As such, when we identify restructuring charges that fulfill the requirements, we record the charges in our statement of operations.

Income Taxes

We recognize a net deferred tax asset for future benefits of tax loss and tax credit carry forwards to the extent that it is “more likely than not” that these assets will be realized. A valuation allowance is provided when it is more likely than not that some portion or all of a deferred tax asset will not be realized. The ultimate realization of deferred tax assets depends on the generation of future taxable income during the period in which related temporary differences become deductible. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using the enacted tax rates expected to apply to taxable income in the years in which those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. In determining the realizability of these assets, we considered numerous factors, including historical profitability, estimated future taxable income and the industry in which we operate. Based on results of operations for the fiscal years ended January 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010 and anticipated future profit levels, we believe that a portion of our deferred tax asset related to U.S. state net operating loss (NOL) carryforwards will not to be realized. Accordingly, in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010, we recorded, through an increase to income tax expense, approximately $0.9 million of valuation allowance on U.S. state NOL carryforwards. In the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009, we reversed approximately $23.1 million of valuation allowance on Irish NOL carryforwards which will more likely than not be realized in future periods. As a result, in fiscal 2009, we recognized the benefits of (i) $40.4 million of net operating loss carryforwards attributed to our operations in Ireland, resulting in a reduction to the provision for income taxes of $5.1 million and (ii) $149.8 million of acquired Irish net operating loss carryforwards resulting in an $18.0 million reduction to goodwill.
 
As of January 31, 2010, we have recorded a deferred tax asset in the amount of $78.0 million comprised of $25.0 million of U.S. NOL carryforwards and $32.7 million of other U.S. related net deferred tax assets; $20.5 million of Irish NOL carryforwards and ($1.7) million of Irish deferred tax liabilities primarily related to intangibles; $0.3 million of tax timing differences in Canada and $1.2 million of NOL carryforwards in all other foreign tax filing jurisdictions. Additionally, we reduce our deferred tax asset by the unrealized excess tax benefit attributable to stock options.

At January 31, 2010, we had $6.6 million of unrecognized tax benefits. We recognize accrued interest and penalties related to unrecognized tax benefits as income tax expense. As of January 31, 2010, we had approximately $0.6 million of accrued interest and penalties related to uncertain tax positions.

Business Combinations

We record tangible and intangible assets acquired and liabilities assumed in business combinations under the purchase method of accounting. Amounts paid for each acquisition are allocated to the assets acquired and liabilities assumed based on their fair values at the dates of acquisition. We then allocate the purchase price in excess of net tangible assets acquired to identifiable intangible assets based on detailed valuations that use information and assumptions provided by management. We allocate any excess purchase price over the fair value of the net tangible and intangible assets acquired and liabilities assumed to goodwill.

Significant management judgments and assumptions are required in determining the fair value of acquired assets and liabilities, particularly acquired intangible assets. The valuation of purchased intangible assets is based upon estimates of the future performance and cash flows from the acquired business. We have used the income approach to determine the estimated fair value of certain other identifiable intangible assets including developed technology, customer relationships and tradenames. This approach determines fair value by estimating the after-tax cash flows attributable to an identified asset over its useful life and then discounting these after-tax cash flows back to a present value. Developed technology represents patented and unpatented technology and know-how. Customer contracts and relationships represent established relationships with customers to whom we believe we may sell additional content and services. Tradenames represent acquired product names that we intend to continue to utilize.

 
Results of Operations

Comparison of the Fiscal Years Ended January 31, 2009 and 2010

Revenue

 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2009
 
2010
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Revenue:
                             
United States
$
243,967
   
$
237,072
   
$
(6,895
)
   
(3
)%
International
 
84,527
     
77,896
     
(6,631
)
   
(8
)%
Total
$
328,494
   
$
314,968
   
$
(13,526
)
   
(4
)%

The decrease in total revenue for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 was partially due to a more cautious customer spending environment related to the current challenging global economic climate, which resulted in a decrease in bookings of 6% in fiscal 2010 versus fiscal 2009. In addition international revenue decreased as a result of the negative effect foreign exchange rates had on our international subsidiaries’ revenue when converted to U.S. dollars.

Costs and Expenses

 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2009
 
2010
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Cost of revenue
$
35,992
   
$
29,436
   
$
(6,556
)
   
(18
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
11
%
   
9
               
Cost of revenue – amortization of intangible assets
 
5,203
     
128
     
(5,075
)
   
(98
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
2
%
   
0
%
               

The decrease in cost of revenue in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 was partially due to a reduction in royalty fees of $2.0 million as a result of both the decrease in revenue and a shift in product mix away from royalty-bearing products. Also contributing to the decrease in cost of revenue was a $1.3 million decrease related to reductions in personnel and $3.2 million in lower expenses for hosting, outside contractors, maintenance and facility charges as a result of both our recent cost-saving initiatives carried out in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 and the substantial completion of certain NETg integration initiatives in fiscal 2009.

The decrease in cost of revenue - amortization of intangible assets in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 was primarily due to certain intangible assets becoming fully amortized during fiscal 2009.

 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2009
 
2010
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Research and development
$
49,540
   
$
43,764
   
$
(5,776
)
   
(12
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
15
%
   
14
               

The decrease in research and development expense in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 was primarily due to a reduction in outsourced development fees of $3.7 million as well as a decrease in compensation and benefits expense of $1.1 million, net of incremental incentive based employee bonuses. These decreases were primarily attributed to the cost-saving initiatives we instituted in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, which were partially offset by incremental international content development expenses incurred in the third and fourth quarter of fiscal 2010 to help support future revenue growth. The reduction in outsource development fees was also due to the inclusion of costs attributable to the NETg acquisition in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009, which included maintaining multiple platforms and product commitments assumed prior to the completion of the integration.

 
 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2009
 
2010
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Selling and marketing
$
108,416
   
$
95,594
   
$
(12,822
)
   
(12
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
33
%
   
30
               

The decrease in selling and marketing expense in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 was primarily due to a decrease in compensation and benefits expense of $10.5 million, net of incremental incentive based employee bonuses. This decrease was primarily the result of a reduction in our field support personnel as part of our cost-saving initiatives as well as a reduction in commission expense attributed to a one-time change to the structure of our compensation plan which impacted commission expense recognized in fiscal 2009. We also had a reduction in marketing expenses of $1.5 million and a reduction in travel expenses of $0.9 million as a result of our cost-saving initiatives.

 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2009
 
2010
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
General and administrative
$
36,774
   
$
34,724
   
$
(2,050
)
   
(6
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
11
%
   
11
               

The decrease in general and administrative expense in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 was primarily due to a reduction of $3.7 million in legal and professional fees associated with our cost savings initiative as well as a reduction in costs related to our business realignment strategy, which was substantially completed during fiscal 2009. In addition, we had decreases in facility and rent expense of $0.3 million as well as decreases in banking fees and insurance expense of $0.6 million. These reductions in cost were partially offset by an increase in compensation and benefits of $2.0 million primarily due to higher level of incentive based compensation earned by our executives.

 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2009
 
2010
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Amortization of intangible assets
$
11,212
   
$
8,117
   
$
(3,095
)
   
(28
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
3
%
   
3
               
Merger and integration related expenses
 
761
     
-
     
(761
)
   
(100
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
0
%
   
-
%
               
Restructuring
 
1,523
     
49
     
(1,474
)
   
(97
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
0
%
   
0
%
               
SEC investigation
 
49
     
-
     
(49
)
   
(100
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
0
%
   
-
%
               

The decrease in amortization of intangible assets for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 was primarily due to certain assets becoming fully amortized during fiscal 2009.

During the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009, we incurred merger and integration expenses related to the NETg acquisition. We completed our efforts to integrate NETg’s operations during fiscal 2009.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, we committed to a workforce reduction plan as part of a cost savings initiative. As a result of this reduction in force, we incurred restructuring charges in fiscal 2009 of $1.5 million which related primarily to one-time termination benefits.

 
 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2009
 
2010
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Other income (expense), net
$
1,480
   
$
(943)
   
$
(2,423
)
   
*
 
As a percentage of revenue
 
0
%
   
0
               
Interest income
 
1,550
     
269
     
(1,281
)
   
(83
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
0
%
   
0
%
               
Interest expense
 
(14,218
)
   
(7,553
)
   
6,665
     
(47
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
(4
)%
   
(2
)%
               
____________
*           Not meaningful

The shift from other income to other expense in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010 as compared to the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 was primarily due to a $1.9 million change from foreign currency exchange gains in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 as compared to foreign currency exchange losses in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010. Due to our multi-national operations, our business is subject to fluctuations based upon changes in the exchange rates between the currencies used in our business.

The reduction in interest income in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 was primarily due to a reduction in our cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments as a result of our share buyback program and our significant long term debt repayments as well as lower interest rates.

The decrease in interest expense in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 was due to $39.0 million in principal debt repayments made against our long-term debt as well as a reduction in the interest rate since January 31, 2009.

Provision for Income Taxes

 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2009
 
2010
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Provision (benefit) for income taxes
$
18,959
   
$
23,561
   
$
4,602
     
24
%
As a percentage of revenue
 
6
%
   
7
               
 
For the fiscal years ended January 31, 2009 and 2010, our effective tax rates were 28.0% and 24.8%, respectively. The decrease in the current effective tax rate is primarily due to a change in the geographical distribution of worldwide earnings as a result of the business realignment strategy that took place at the beginning of fiscal 2010. For the fiscal years ended January 31, 2009 and 2010, the effective tax rate was higher than the Irish statutory rate of 12.5% due primarily to earnings in higher tax jurisdictions outside of Ireland.
 
Discontinued Operations

Income from discontinued operations, net of income tax, was $1.9 million in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009. This was primarily due to the prepayment of the purchase price from the acquirer of our former NETg Press business during fiscal 2009, which resulted in a gain from the disposal of $2.0 million, net of income tax.

 
Comparison of the Fiscal Years Ended January 31, 2008 and 2009

Revenue

 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2008
 
2009
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Revenue:
                             
United States
$
217,670
   
$
243,967
   
$
26,297
     
12
%
International
 
63,553
     
84,527
     
20,974
     
33
%
Total
$
281,223
   
$
328,494
   
$
47,271
     
17
%

Revenue increased primarily due to the realization of additional revenue resulting from the increased customer base associated with the acquisition of NETg in May 2007 as well as from continued additional revenue earned under agreements with third party resellers of our products.
 
Costs and Expenses

 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2008
 
2009
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Cost of revenue
$
32,637
   
$
35,992
   
$
3,355
     
10
%
As a percentage of revenue
 
12
%
   
11
               
Cost of revenue – amortization of intangible assets
 
5,423
     
5,203
     
(220
)
   
(4
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
2
%
   
2
%
               

The dollar increase in cost of revenue in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2008 was primarily due to the payment of $2.6 million in additional royalty fees associated with the increase in revenue. We also incurred additional compensation costs of $0.5 due to increased headcount during fiscal 2009.

The decrease in cost of revenue - amortization of intangible assets in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2008 was primarily due to certain intangible assets becoming fully amortized since January 31, 2008. This decrease was partially offset by the inclusion of the amortization of the intangible assets acquired in the acquisition of NETg for all of fiscal 2009 versus less than nine months in fiscal 2008.

 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2008
 
2009
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Research and development
$
49,612
   
$
49,540
   
$
(72
)
   
(0
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
18
%
   
15
               

The decrease in research and development expense in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2008 was primarily due to a reduction in (i) contractor and outsource partner costs of $0.5 million relating to NETg integration initiatives, which became substantially completed prior to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, (ii) facility charges of $0.5 million due to a reduction in redundant leased space assumed in the acquisition of NETg and (iii) depreciation expense of $0.4 million which was due primarily to certain fixed assets related to the NETg acquisition becoming fully depreciated by the end of fiscal 2008.
 
These reductions were partially offset by an increase in compensation and benefits expense of $1.3 million attributable to increased headcount during fiscal 2009.

 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2008
 
2009
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Selling and marketing
$
97,493
   
$
108,416
   
$
10,923
     
11
%
As a percentage of revenue
 
35
%
   
33
               

 
The increase in selling and marketing expense in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2008 was primarily due to an increase in compensation and benefits expense of $8.8 million due to increased headcount, which includes additional direct sales, telesales and field support personnel required to service our expanded customer base following the NETg acquisition, as well as incremental commissions resulting from increased order intake and billings from our larger base business and from the acquired NETg customer base. In addition, we incurred incremental marketing costs of $1.4 million to support our larger customer base, which includes the expense associated with our efforts to retain customers acquired in the NETg acquisition. The decrease in selling and marketing expense as a percentage of revenue in fiscal 2009 versus fiscal 2008 is due to the increase in revenue, which was partially offset by the aforementioned factors.

 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2008
 
2009
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
General and administrative
$
34,630
   
$
36,774
   
$
2,144
     
6
%
As a percentage of revenue
 
12
%
   
11
               

The increase in general and administrative expense in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2008 was primarily due to an increase of $4.2 million in professional fees primarily related to (i) our share capital reduction initiative aimed at increasing distributable profits in our Irish parent entity and (ii) the feasibility analysis related to our business realignment strategy. This increase was partially offset by a reduction in the depreciation of fixed assets of $0.7 million, which was due primarily to certain fixed assets related to the NETg acquisition becoming fully depreciated by the end of fiscal 2008, as well as a reduction in bad debt expense of $0.4 million resulting from improved collection efforts on accounts receivable balances as compared to fiscal 2008. In addition, in fiscal 2009 there was a decrease in facility charges of $0.4 million and a decrease in insurance expense of $0.4 million. The decrease in general and administrative expense as a percentage of revenue in fiscal 2009 versus fiscal 2008 is due to the increase in revenue, which was partially offset by the aforementioned factors.

 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2008
 
2009
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Amortization of intangible assets
$
11,237
   
$
11,212
   
$
(25
)
   
0
%
As a percentage of revenue
 
4
%
   
3
               
Merger and integration related expenses
 
12,283
     
761
     
(11,522
)
   
(94
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
4
%
   
0
%
               
Restructuring
 
34
     
1,523
     
1,489
     
4,379
%
As a percentage of revenue
 
0
%
   
0
%
               
SEC investigation
 
1,346
     
49
     
(1,297
)
   
(96
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
0
%
   
0
%
               

Amortization of intangible assets remained relatively flat in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2008. This was primarily due to the amortization of the intangible assets acquired in the acquisition of NETg being included for all of fiscal 2009 versus less than nine months in fiscal 2008, which was offset by certain intangible assets becoming fully amortized in fiscal 2009.
 
Merger and integration related expenses decreased primarily due to significant expenses incurred in fiscal 2008 when the NETg acquisition was consummated. These costs were significantly lower in the current fiscal year as we substantially completed our efforts to integrate NETg’s operations into ours during fiscal 2009.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 we committed to a workforce reduction plan of approximately 120 employees as part of a cost saving initiative undertaken in connection with the development of our budget and operating plan for fiscal 2010. As a result of this reduction in force, we incurred restructuring charges in fiscal 2009 of $1.5 million which related primarily to one-time termination benefits.

SEC investigation related expense decreased in the fiscal year January 31, 2009 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2008 due to a decrease in legal activities related to the SEC’s informal inquiry into the pre-merger option granting practices at SmartForce.

 
 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2008
 
2009
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Other income (expense), net
$
295
   
$
1,480
   
$
1,185
     
402
%
As a percentage of revenue
 
0
%
   
0
               
Interest income
 
3,948
     
1,550
     
(2,398
)
   
(61
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
1
%
   
0
%
               
Interest expense
 
(12,630
)
   
(14,218
)
   
(1,588
)
   
13
%
As a percentage of revenue
 
(4
)%
   
(4
)%
               

The change in other income (expense), net in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2008 was primarily due to foreign currency fluctuation gains of $0.9 million. Due to our multi-national operations, our business is subject to fluctuations based upon changes in the exchange rates between the currencies used in our business. In addition, we recognized a $0.2 million gain on insurance proceeds for funds received on damaged equipment that had been fully depreciated.

The reduction of interest income in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2008 was primarily due to a reduction in our short-term investments and lower interest rates.

The increase in interest expense in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 versus the fiscal year ended January 31, 2008 was primarily due to the interest expense on the debt incurred for the acquisition of NETg being incurred for the full year of fiscal 2009 versus only nine months in fiscal 2008. This was partially offset by a reduction in interest expense resulting from $75.6 million in principal payments made during fiscal 2009 to reduce debt.

Provision for Income Taxes

 
Fiscal Year Ended
January 31,
 
Dollar Increase/(Decrease)
 
Percent Change
 
2008
 
2009
               
(In thousands, except percentages)
                             
Provision (benefit) for income taxes
$
(31,587
)
 
$
18,959
   
$
50,546
     
(160
)%
As a percentage of revenue
 
(11
)%
   
6
               
 
For the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009, we recorded an income tax provision of $19.0 million versus an income tax benefit of $31.6 million for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2008. The income tax provision for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 was impacted by the recognition of a reduction of income tax expense of $5.1 million resulting from the release of a $23.1 million valuation allowance attributed to our Ireland operations. The remaining $18.0 million related to net operating losses acquired in the 2002 merger between SmartForce PLC and SkillSoft Corporation (the “SmartForce Merger”) and was recorded as an adjustment to goodwill. The income tax benefit for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2008 included the release of $95.9 million of U.S valuation allowance. Approximately $41.4 million of the valuation allowance release related to SkillSoft net operating losses and was recorded through an offset to tax expense. The remaining $54.5 million, which related to SmartForce net operating losses, was recorded as an adjustment to goodwill.
 
Discontinued Operations

Income from discontinued operations, net of income tax, was $1.9 million in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 versus $0.3 million during the fiscal year ended January 31, 2008. The increase in fiscal 2009 was primarily due to the prepayment of the purchase price from the acquirer of our former NETg Press business during fiscal 2009, which resulted in a gain from the disposal of $2.0 million, net of income tax.

LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL RESOURCES

As of January 31, 2010, our principal source of liquidity was our cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments, which totaled $80.2 million as compared to $39.0 million at January 31, 2009.

Net cash provided by operating activities of $111.3 million for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010 was primarily due to net income of $71.4 million, which included the impact of non-cash expenses for depreciation and amortization of $12.8 million, non-cash provision for income taxes of $17.0 million and share-based compensation expense of $6.3 million. Net cash provided by operating activities was also a result of a decrease in accounts receivable of $9.2 million. These amounts were partially offset by a decrease in deferred revenue of $7.8 million. The decrease in accounts receivable for fiscal 2010 was primarily due to a reduction in billings and the timing of collections as compared to fiscal 2009. The decrease in deferred revenue in fiscal 2010 was primarily due to a reduction in billings as compared to fiscal 2009, partially offset by the favorable impact from foreign currency exchange rate movements.

 
Net cash used in investing activities was $4.7 million for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010, which includes the purchase of capital assets of approximately $3.2 million. In addition, the purchase of investments, net of maturities, resulted in a cash outflow of approximately $2.5 million. These cash outflows in investing activities were partially offset by a release of restricted cash of $1.0 million primarily related to the termination of a facility lease.

Net cash used in financing activities was $69.7 million for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2010. During this period, we made principal payments on our debt of $39.0 million and purchased treasury shares at a cost of $35.1 million under our shareholder-approved share repurchase program. These uses of cash were partially offset by proceeds of $4.6 million received from the exercise of share options under our various share option programs and share purchases made under our 2004 Employee Share Purchase Plan.

We had working capital of approximately $30.1 million as of January 31, 2010 as compared to a working capital deficit of approximately $11.9 million as of January 31, 2009. The increase in working capital was primarily due to net income from continuing operations of $71.4 million, which includes non-cash charges for depreciation and amortization of $12.8 million, share-based compensation expense of $6.3 million and a non-cash tax charge of $17.0 million. We also had an increase in our current deferred tax assets of $2.5 million, which was primarily attributed to a long term deferred tax asset reclassification net of tax asset utilization. Additionally, we received proceeds of $4.6 million from the exercise of share options under our various share option programs and from share purchases made under our 2004 Employee Share Purchase Plan. This was partially offset by principal debt payments of $39.0 million and the purchase of treasury shares having a cost of $35.1 million under our shareholder-approved share repurchase program.
 
As of January 31, 2010, we had U.S. federal NOL carryforwards of $124.5 million. These NOL carryforwards represent the gross carrying value of the operating loss carryforwards and are available to reduce future taxable income, if any, through 2025. We completed several financings since our inception and have incurred ownership changes as defined under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code. We do not believe that the ownership changes will have a material impact on our ability to use these net operating loss carryforwards. Included in the $124.5 million of U.S. federal NOL carryforwards is $56.3 million of NOL carryforwards resulting from excess tax benefits related to stock options, and $68.2 million of U.S. NOL carryforwards that relate to our operations. We will realize the benefit of the stock option related losses through increases to shareholders' equity in the periods in which the losses are utilized to reduce tax payments. Additionally, we have $167.2 million of Irish NOL carryforwards. These NOL carryforwards represent the gross carrying value of the operating loss carryforwards. We also had U.S. federal tax credit carryforwards of approximately $6.3 million at January 31, 2010.

We lease certain of our facilities and certain equipment and furniture under operating lease agreements that expire at various dates through 2023. In addition, we have a term loan which will be paid out over the next 4 years. Future minimum lease payments, net of estimated sub-rentals, under these agreements and the debt repayments schedule are as follows (in thousands):

   
Payments Due by Period
Contractual Obligation
 
Total
   
Less Than
1 Year
   
1 – 3
Years
   
3 – 5
Years
   
More Than
5 Years
 
Operating Lease Obligations
 
$
11,766
   
$
4,065
   
$
5,923
   
$
1,778
   
$
-
 
Debt Obligations (1)
   
84,365
     
865
     
1,730
     
81,770
     
-
 
Total Obligations
 
$
96,131
   
$
4,930
   
$
7,653
   
$
83,548
   
$
-
 
__________

(1)
After announcing that we had reached an agreement on the terms of a recommended acquisition of SkillSoft PLC by SSI Investments III Limited (“SSI Investments”) we made a $45.0 million voluntary prepayment of our long-term debt on February 25, 2010.  The prepayment of debt was not contemplated by us as of January 31, 2010.  

We do not have any off-balance sheet arrangements, as defined under SEC rules, such as relationships with unconsolidated entities or financial partnerships, which are often referred to as structured finance or special purpose entities, established for the purpose of facilitating transactions that are not required to be reflected on our balance sheet.

In May 2007, we entered into a credit agreement with Credit Suisse and certain lenders providing for a $225.0 million senior credit facility comprised of a $200 million term loan facility and a $25.0 million revolving credit facility. On July 7, 2008, we entered into an amendment to the credit agreement (the Amendment). The primary purpose of the Amendment was to expand our and our subsidiaries’ ability to make additional repurchases of our shares. The expanded repurchase ability under the Amendment is conditioned on the absence of an event of default and a requirement that (i) the leverage ratio shall be no greater than 2.75:1 as of the most recently completed fiscal quarter ending prior to the date of such repurchase (0.69:1 at January 31, 2010) and (ii) that we make a prepayment of the term loan under the credit agreement in an amount equal to the dollar amount of any such repurchase. Such term loan prepayments were not, however, required in connection with the first $24.0 million of repurchases made from and after July 7, 2008. The Amendment also provides for an increase in the annual interest rate on the term loan to, at our election, (i) base rate plus a margin of 2.5% or (ii) adjusted LIBOR plus margin of 3.5%.

 
As of January 31, 2010, we were, and expect to remain, in compliance with all other covenants under the credit agreement.

Please see Note 10 of The Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a detailed description of the credit agreement, as amended.

We expect that the principal sources of funding for our operating expenses, capital expenditures, debt payment obligations, share repurchases and other liquidity needs will be a combination of our available cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments, and funds generated from future cash flows from operating activities. We believe our current funds and expected cash flows from operating activities will be sufficient to fund our operations, including our debt repayment obligations, for at least the next 12 months. However, there are several items that may negatively impact our available sources of funds. In addition, our cash needs may increase due to factors such as unanticipated developments in our business or the marketplace for our products in general or significant acquisitions. The amount of cash generated from operations will be dependent upon the successful execution of our business plan. Although we do not foresee the need to raise additional capital, any unanticipated economic or business events could require us to raise additional capital to support our operations.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements
 
In June 2009, the FASB issued the FASB Accounting Standards Codification (ASC), which was effective for us in the third quarter ended October 31, 2009. The Codification became the single authoritative source for U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Accordingly, references to the previous U.S. GAAP accounting standards are no longer used by us in our disclosures. The ASC does not change U.S. GAAP and does not affect our consolidated financial position, cash flows, or results of operations.

In December 2007, the FASB issued updated guidance on business combinations, incorporated into ASC 805, which includes the measurement of acquirer shares issued in consideration for a business combination, the recognition of contingent consideration, the accounting for pre-acquisition gain and loss contingencies, the recognition of capitalized in-process research and development, the accounting for acquisition-related restructuring cost accruals, the treatment of acquisition related transaction costs and the recognition of changes in the acquirer’s income tax valuation allowance. Adoption of this guidance on February 1, 2009 did not have a material impact on our financial position or results of operations. The adoption of this guidance will have an impact on our accounting for business combinations occurring on or after the adoption date, but the effect will be dependent on the acquisitions at that time.

In December 2007, the FASB issued updated guidance on non-controlling interest in consolidated financial statements, incorporated into ASC 810-10-65-1, which includes the requirements to classify non-controlling interests as a component of consolidated stockholders’ equity, and the elimination of “minority interest” accounting in results of operations with earnings attributable to non-controlling interests reported as part of consolidated earnings. Additionally, this guidance revises the accounting for both increases and decreases in a parent’s controlling ownership interest. Adoption of this guidance on February 1, 2009 did not have a material impact on our financial position or results of operations.

In April 2008, the FASB issued updated guidance on recognition and presentation of other-than-temporary impairments, incorporated into ASC 350-30-65-1, which requires companies estimating the useful life of a recognized intangible asset to consider their historical experience in renewing or extending similar arrangements or, in the absence of historical experience, to consider assumptions that market participants would use about renewal or extension as adjusted for entity-specific factors. This guidance is effective for financial statements issued for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2009. Adoption of this statement is not expected to have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements when it becomes effective.

In May 2009, the FASB issued updated guidance on subsequent events, incorporated into ASC 855, which does not require significant changes regarding recognition or disclosure of subsequent events, but does require disclosure of the date through which subsequent events have been evaluated for disclosure and recognition. This guidance is effective for financial statements issued after June 15, 2009. On February 24, 2010, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2010-09 to amend ASC 855. As a result of the ASU, SEC registrants will not disclose the date through which management evaluated subsequent events in the financial statements. The implementation of this standard did not have a significant impact on our financial statements. Subsequent events through the date these financial statements were available for filing in this Annual Report on Form10-K have been evaluated for disclosure and recognition.

In October 2009, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2009-13, Multiple-Deliverable Revenue Arrangements – a consensus of the FASB Emerging Issues Task Force to amend certain guidance in ASC 605-25, “Revenue Recognition, 25 Multiple-Element Arrangements.” The amended guidance in ASC 605-25 (1) modifies the separation criteria by eliminating the criterion that requires objective and reliable evidence of fair value for the undelivered item(s), and (2) eliminates the use of the residual method of allocation and instead requires that arrangement consideration be allocated, at the inception of the arrangement, to all deliverables based on their relative selling price.

 
In October 2009, the FASB also issued ASU 2009-14, Certain Revenue Arrangements That Include Software Elements – a consensus of the FASB Emerging Issues Task Force, to amend the scope of arrangements under ASC 985-605, Software, 605, “Revenue Recognition” to exclude tangible products containing software components and non-software components that function together to deliver a product’s essential functionality.

The amended guidance in ASC 605-25 and ASC 985-605 is effective prospectively for revenue arrangements entered into or materially modified in fiscal years beginning on or after June 15, 2010, with early application and retrospective application permitted. We have not yet determined when we will apply the amended guidance in ASC 985-605, or the amended guidance in ASC 605-25. Adoption of these statements is not expected to have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements when it becomes effective.

Explanation of Use of Non-GAAP Financial Results

In addition to reporting our audited and unaudited financial results in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), to assist investors we on occasion provide certain non-GAAP financial results as an alternative means to explain our periodic results. The non-GAAP financial results typically exclude non-cash or unusual charges or benefits.
 
 
Our management uses the non-GAAP financial results internally as an alternative means for assessing our results of operations. By excluding non-cash charges such as share-based compensation, amortization of purchased intangible assets, impairment of goodwill and purchased intangible assets, management can evaluate our operations excluding these non-cash charges and can compare our results on a more consistent basis to the results of other companies in our industry. By excluding charges such as merger and integration related expenses and one-time or infrequent charges our management can compare our ongoing operations to prior quarters where such items may be materially different and to ongoing operations of other companies in our industry who may have materially different unusual charges. Our management recognizes that non-GAAP financial results are not a substitute for GAAP results, but believes that non-GAAP measures are helpful in assisting them in understanding and managing our business.

Our management believes that the non-GAAP financial results may also provide useful information to investors. Non-GAAP results may also allow investors and analysts to more readily compare our operations to prior financial results and to the financial results of other companies in the industry who similarly provide non-GAAP results to investors and analysts. Investors may seek to evaluate our business performance and the performance of our competitors as they relate to cash. Excluding one-time and non-cash charges may assist investors in this evaluation and comparisons. When we provide non-GAAP financial results, we will also provide reconciliations of such results to GAAP financial measures.

In addition, certain covenants in our credit agreement are based on non-GAAP financial measures, such as adjusted EBITDA, and evaluating and presenting these measures allows us and our investors to assess our compliance with the covenants in our credit agreement and thus our liquidity situation.

The reconciliation of net income to adjusted EBITDA is as follows (in thousands):

   
Years Ended January 31,
 
   
2008
   
2009
   
2010
 
Net income
 
$
59,998
   
$
50,789
   
$
71,368
 
Less: (Other income)expense, net
   
(295
)
   
(1,480
)
   
943
 
Less: (Interest income)
   
(3,948
)
   
(1,550
)
   
(269
)
Add: Interest expense
   
12,630
     
14,218
     
7,553
 
Add: (Benefit) provision for income taxes
   
(31,587
)
   
18,959
     
23,561
 
Add: Amortization of acquired intangibles
   
16,660
     
16,415
     
8,245
 
Add: Depreciation and amortization
   
6,935
     
5,277
     
4,564
 
EBITDA
   
60,393
     
102,628
     
115,965
 
Add: Merger and integration related expenses
   
12,283
     
761
     
-
 
Add: SEC investigation
   
1,346
     
49
     
-
 
Add: Stock-based compensation
   
5,951
     
6,132
     
6,300
 
Less: Income from discontinued operations, net of income tax
   
(270
)
   
(1,912
)
   
-
 
Add: Business realignment strategy
   
203
     
1,995
     
-
 
Adjusted EBITDA
   
79,906
     
109,653
     
122,265
 

We intend to continue to assess the potential value of reporting non-GAAP results consistent with applicable rules and regulations.

 

 
As of January 31, 2010, we were not party to any derivative financial instruments.

Interest Rate Risk

Our general investing policy is to limit the risk of principal loss and to ensure the safety of invested funds by limiting market and credit risk. We currently use a registered investment manager to place our investments in highly liquid money market accounts, government-backed securities, commercial paper and corporate debt securities. All highly liquid investments with original maturities of three months or less are considered to be cash equivalents. Interest income is sensitive to changes in the general level of U.S. interest rates. Based on the short-term nature and investment grade quality of our investments, we have concluded that there is no significant market risk exposure.

In order to limit our exposure to interest rate changes associated with our term loan, we entered into an interest rate swap agreement with an initial notional amount of $160 million which amortizes over a period consistent with our anticipated payment schedule. This strategy used an interest rate swap to effectively convert $160 million in variable rate borrowings into fixed rate liabilities at a 5.1015% effective interest rate. The interest rate swap matured on December 31, 2009.

Foreign Currency Risk

Due to our multinational operations, our business is subject to fluctuations based upon changes in the exchange rates between the currencies in which we collect revenue or pay expenses and the U.S. dollar. Our expenses are not necessarily incurred in the currency in which revenue is generated, and, as a result, we are required from time to time to convert currencies to meet our obligations. These currency conversions are subject to exchange rate fluctuations, in particular changes to the value of the Euro, Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar, Singapore dollar, and pound sterling relative to the U.S. dollar, which could adversely affect our business and our results of operations. During fiscal 2008, 2009 and 2010, we incurred foreign currency exchange (losses) gains of $(0.1) million, $0.8 million and $(1.1) million, respectively.


Incorporated by reference from Item 7 “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Quarterly Operating Results” and Appendix B attached hereto.


Not applicable.


Evaluation of Disclosure Controls & Procedures

Our management, with the participation of our chief executive officer and chief financial officer, evaluated the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures as of January 31, 2010. The term “disclosure controls and procedures,” as defined in Rules 13a-15(e) and 15d-15(e) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), means controls and other procedures of a company that are designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by a company in the reports that it files or submits under the Exchange Act is recorded, processed, summarized and reported, within the time periods specified in the SEC’s rules and forms. Disclosure controls and procedures include, without limitation, controls and procedures designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by a company in the reports that it files or submits under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to the company’s management, including its principal executive and principal financial officers, as appropriate to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosure. Our management recognizes that any controls and procedures, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable assurance of achieving their objectives and management necessarily applies its judgment in evaluating the cost-benefit relationship of possible controls and procedures. Based on the evaluation of our disclosure controls and procedures as of January 31, 2010, our chief executive officer and chief financial officer concluded that, as of such date, our disclosure controls and procedures were effective at the reasonable assurance level.

Changes in Internal Control

No change in our internal control over financial reporting occurred during the fiscal quarter ended January 31, 2010 that has materially affected, or is reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal control over financial reporting.

 
Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting

Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting. Internal control over financial reporting is defined in Rule 13a-15(f) or 15d-15(f) promulgated under the Exchange Act as a process designed by, or under the supervision of, the company’s principal executive and principal financial officers and effected by the company’s Board of Directors, management and other personnel, to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and includes those policies and procedures that:

 
Pertain to the maintenance of records that in reasonable detail accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company;

 
Provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and

 
Provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use or disposition of the company’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate. Internal control over financial reporting cannot provide absolute assurance of achieving financial reporting objectives because of its inherent limitations. Internal control over financial reporting is a process that involves human diligence and compliance and is subject to lapses in judgment and breakdowns resulting from human failures. Internal control over financial reporting also can be circumvented by collusion or improper management override. Because of such limitations, there is a risk that material misstatements may not be prevented or detected on a timely basis by internal control over financial reporting. However, these inherent limitations are known risks of the financial reporting process. Therefore, it is possible to design into the process safeguards to reduce, though not eliminate, this risk.

Our management assessed the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of January 31, 2010. In making this assessment, our management used the criteria set forth in Internal Control-Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) in Internal Control-Integrated Framework.

Based on this assessment, our management believes that, as of January 31, 2010, our internal control over financial reporting is effective based on those criteria.

Ernst & Young LLP, the independent registered public accounting firm that audited our financial statements included in this annual report on Form 10-K, has issued an attestation report on our internal control over financial reporting as of January 31, 2010. Please see page 45.

 
REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM
 
To the Board of Directors and
Shareholders of SkillSoft Public Limited Company

We have audited SkillSoft Public Limited Company’s internal control over financial reporting as of January 31, 2010, based on criteria established in Internal Control — Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (the COSO criteria). SkillSoft Public Limited Company’s management is responsible for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting, and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting included in the accompanying Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the company’s internal control over financial reporting based on our audit.

We conducted our audit in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects. Our audit included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk, and performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.

A company’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the company’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.

In our opinion, SkillSoft Public Limited Company maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of January 31, 2010, based on the COSO criteria.

We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), the 2010 consolidated financial statements of SkillSoft Public Limited Company and our report dated March 25, 2010 expressed an unqualified opinion thereon.

/s/  Ernst & Young LLP

Boston, Massachusetts
March 25, 2010




Not applicable



The information required by this item will be incorporated by reference to our Proxy Statement for our 2010 Annual General Meeting or included in an amendment to this Form 10-K, one of which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the close of fiscal 2010.


The information required by this item will be incorporated by reference to our Proxy Statement for our 2010 Annual General Meeting or included in an amendment to this Form 10-K, one of which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the close of fiscal 2010.


The information required by this item will be incorporated by reference to our Proxy Statement for our 2010 Annual General Meeting or included in an amendment to this Form 10-K, one of which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the close of fiscal 2010.


The information required by this item will be incorporated by reference to our Proxy Statement for our 2010 Annual General Meeting or included in an amendment to this Form 10-K, one of which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the close of fiscal 2010.


The information required by this item will be incorporated by reference to our Proxy Statement for our 2010 Annual General Meeting or included in an amendment to this Form 10-K, one of which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the close of fiscal 2010.



(a) Documents Filed as a Part of this Report:
 
1. Financial Statements.  The following documents are filed as Appendix B hereto and are included as part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K:

Financial Statements:

Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

Consolidated Balance Sheets

Consolidated Statements of Income

Consolidated Statements of Shareholders’ Equity and Comprehensive Income

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows

Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements
 
2. Financial Statement Schedules.  All Financial Statement Schedules have been omitted since they are either not required, not applicable, or the information is otherwise included in this report.
 
3. Exhibits.  The Exhibits listed in the Exhibit Index immediately preceding such Exhibits are filed as part of and incorporated by reference in this Form 10-K.



Pursuant to the requirements of Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, this registrant has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the undersigned, thereunto duly authorized.

 
SKILLSOFT PUBLIC LIMITED COMPANY
 
(Registrant)
     
 
By:
/s/  CHARLES E. MORAN
   
Charles E. Moran
   
President and Chief Executive Officer
     
   
Date: March 25, 2010

 
Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, this report has been duly signed below by the following persons on behalf of SkillSoft and in the capacities and on the date set forth below.

Signature
 
Title
 
Date
         
/s/ CHARLES E. MORAN
 
President and Chief Executive
 
March 25, 2010
Charles E. Moran
 
Officer and Director
   
   
(Principal Executive Officer)
   
         
/s/ THOMAS J. MCDONALD
 
Chief Financial Officer
 
March 25, 2010
Thomas J. McDonald
 
(Principal Financial Officer)
   
         
/s/ ANTHONY P. AMATO
 
Vice President, Finance and Chief
 
March 25, 2010
Anthony P. Amato
 
Accounting Officer
   
   
(Principal Accounting Officer)
   
         
/s/ WILLIAM J. BOYCE
 
Director
 
March 25, 2010
William J. Boyce 
       
         
/s/ P. HOWARD EDELSTEIN
 
Director
 
March 25, 2010
P. Howard Edelstein
       
         
/s/ JAMES S. KRZYWICKI
 
Director
 
March 25, 2010
James S. Krzywicki
       
         
/s/ FERDINAND VON PRONDZYNSKI
 
Director
 
March 25, 2010
Ferdinand von Prondzynski
       
         
/s/ WILLIAM F. MEAGHER, JR.
 
Director
 
March 25, 2010
William F. Meagher, Jr.
       
         

APPENDIX A

SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

The selected consolidated financial data set forth below should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and notes and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” appearing elsewhere in this Form 10-K. This selected consolidated financial data is derived from our audited consolidated financial statements.

   
Year Ended January 31, 2006
   
Year Ended January 31, 2007
   
Year Ended January 31, 2008
   
Year Ended January 31, 2009
   
Year Ended January 31, 2010
 
   
(In thousands, except per share data)
 
Revenues
 
$
215,567
   
$
225,172
   
$
281,223
   
$
328,494
   
$
314,968
 
Cost of revenues
   
25,307
     
26,601
     
32,637
     
35,992
     
29,436
 
Cost of revenues - amortization of intangible assets
   
6,939
     
4,422
     
5,423
     
5,203
     
128
 
Gross profit
   
183,321
     
194,149
     
243,163
     
287,299
     
285,404
 
Operating expenses:
                                       
  Research and development
   
39,172
     
40,776
     
49,612
     
49,540
     
43,764
 
  Selling and marketing
   
88,438
     
90,894
     
97,493
     
108,416
     
95,594
 
  General and administrative
   
25,776
     
27,735
     
34,630
     
36,774
     
34,724
 
  Insurance recoveries
   
(17,710
)
   
-
     
-
     
-
     
-
 
  Amortization of intangible assets
   
2,174
     
1,652
     
11,237
     
11,212
     
8,117
 
  Merger and integration related expenses
   
-
     
-
     
12,283
     
761
     
-
 
  Restructuring
   
641
     
26
     
34
     
1,523
     
49
 
  SEC investigation
   
1,988
     
898
     
1,346
     
49
     
-
 
Total operating expenses
   
140,479
     
161,981
     
206,635
     
208,275
     
182,248
 
Operating income