Excolere Acquisition Corp.
- Education, Technology
Anthony “Tony” Miller, our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer , has over 29 years of operating, M&A and financing experience in the education and human capital technology and services sectors. In 2019, Mr. Miller began the launch of Excolere Equity Partners, LLC, a private investment firm focused on middle-market companies in the education and human capital management industries, where he currently serves as Managing Partner. Prior to launching Excolere, in 2013, Mr. Miller co-founded The Vistria Group, LLC, a private investment firm with over $1 billion in assets under management, focused on middle-market companies in the healthcare, education, and financial services industries. In addition to his role as Chief Operating Officer at Vistria, Mr. Miller was a Senior Partner, responsible for leading the firm’s education-related investments. During his time at Vistria, Mr. Miller led the over $1 billion take-private of Apollo Education Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL) in partnership with Apollo Global Management (NYSE: APO) in 2017. Before his transition back to the private sector in 2013, Mr. Miller served as the Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer at the U.S. Department of Education, a position he was appointed to by President Barack Obama in 2009 and confirmed by the Senate. In this role, Mr. Miller oversaw day-to-day operations of the Department, including policy-making and program management, spanning early learning, K-12, and higher education. Mr. Miller also led the implementation of approximately $100 billion in one-time education program funding as part of the 2009 economic stimulus package. In addition, Mr. Miller led the Department’s international missions to China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Brazil, and Russia. Before his public service role, Mr. Miller was a Director with Silver Lake, a global leader in technology investing, where he helped launch the firm’s Value Creation Team as an operating partner. From 2006 to 2009, as an inaugural member of the Value Creation Team, Mr. Miller worked closely with Silver Lake’s investment professionals to support due diligence, evaluate investment opportunities, and develop and oversee portfolio company value creation programs. Prior to Silver Lake, Mr. Miller served as a Strategy / M&A advisor to the Founder / CEO of Oversee.net, a leading online performance marketing services company, from 2005 to 2006, where his work with management to execute a key strategic acquisition helped support Oversee’s subsequent acquisition by Oak Hill Capital Partners. From 2002 to 2005, Mr. Miller was an executive with LRN Corporation, a founder-led company providing ethics and compliance software and corporate eLearning solutions to Fortune 500 companies. As the Executive Vice President (one of the two company’s top executives), Mr. Miller had overall responsibility for engineering, product development, content development, marketing, operations, business development and finance. From 1992 to 2002, Mr. Miller was with McKinsey & Company where he was a Partner from 1998 to 2002, serving healthcare and technology companies throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Mr. Miller’s work focused on growth strategy development, company re-structuring and technology commercialization. Mr. Miller began his career with Delco Electronics, a subsidiary of GM Hughes Electronics, where he was responsible for channel marketing programs. Mr. Miller currently serves on the Board of Directors of ACT, Criteria, GoGuardian, University of Phoenix, and Vanta Education. Previously, he served on the boards of Penn Foster, HigherEducation.com, and MSI Information Services. Mr. Miller holds an M.B.A. from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. Our board of directors has determined that Mr. Miller’s operating, investment, and regulatory experience qualifies him to serve as one of our directors.
Peter “Pete” Davis, our President, Chief Operating Officer, Secretary and Director , has approximately 20 years of operating, M&A and financing experience in the education and human capital technology and services sectors. Mr. Davis is a founder of Excolere Equity Partners, LLC, along with Anthony “Tony” Miller, and is currently an Advisor for investment firms Avathon Capital (since 2019) and Platform Ventures (since 2017). As an Advisor to Avathon Capital, he is lead independent Board Director to Reading Plus and an Advisor to Emsi, two high growth portfolio companies in education and workforce development, respectively; and as Advisor to Platform Ventures, Mr. Davis works with family office investor groups on Ed-Tech and human capital impact investing. He has served as a Senior Advisor to the Boston Consulting Group since 2012. He also previously served on the Boards of EdTechX (NASDAQ: EDTX) and Greenwich Associates. Mr. Davis served for over a decade (2008-2019) as a Director at Greenwich Associates, where he influenced the company's transformation from a consulting-based information business to a SaaS-based data and analytics provider. At EdTechX, Mr. Davis was a member of the Audit Committee and was involved in the first Ed-Tech SPAC that merged with Meten Edtechx Education Group (NASDAQ: METX) in 2020. Mr. Davis was previously the President of McGraw-Hill Education (2006-2010), the largest segment of The McGraw-Hill Companies (now S&P Global, NYSE: SPGI). In this role he invested in transforming the publishing business into a digital learning company. His efforts over a three year period led to share gains in higher education, creation of AI-based learning platforms in K-12 and higher-education, and the startup of international education services businesses. He left the company in 2011 and was retained by Apollo Global Management (NYSE: APO) to advise them on the buyout of the business in a successful $2.4 billion leveraged buyout transaction. Before being appointed President at McGraw-Hill Education, Mr. Davis was Executive VP of Global Strategy and Development for The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP) from 2006 to 2008. There he led planning and corporate development for this Fortune 400 company. In this role he led efforts to transform the company from diversified media conglomerate to global financial information provider by working with the CEO and Board to analyze and value the portfolio; then sell media businesses and reinvest the proceeds in financial information businesses to build on the S&P franchise. Mr. Davis began his career at PepsiCo (NASDAQ: PEP) in strategy and marketing (1982-1987), then entered consulting with The MAC Group in Cambridge, MA (1987-1995); eventually rising to become a Practice Leader and Partner at Booz-Allen & Hamilton (NYSE: BAH) where he led the Commercial Banking/Capital Markets practice in North America (1995-2006). He holds an M.B.A. from the Johnson School of Management, Cornell University and a B.A., awarded with highest distinction, in History from Rutgers College, New Brunswick, NJ. Our board of directors has determined that Mr. Davis’ operating and investment experience qualifies him to serve as one of our directors.
Jeffrey M. Glick, our Chief Financial Officer , has more than 35 years of financial, administrative, and logistics management experience. Mr. Glick served as Chief Financial Officer of Schultze Special Purpose Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ: SAMA) from September 2018 until it consummated its business combination with Clever Leaves International Inc. (NASDAQ:CLVR), a multi-national cannabis company, in December 2020. In 2011, Mr. Glick founded, and continues to operate, START U UP, LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in providing outsourced CFO and compliance services to the alternative asset management industry. Before founding START U UP, he served as the CFO at Sagard Capital for three years. Sagard is a hybrid fund that invests across the hedge and private equity spectrum. He joined Sagard Capital during its start-up stage and was responsible for all aspects of finance, administration, and operations. He also provided deal-related support. Prior to Sagard, Mr. Glick joined Almaz USA, Inc., an international commodity trading and brokering firm, as it was starting up in 1992, and served as its Chief Financial Officer for 16 years. His contributions toward improving cost-effectiveness while he was an Internal Auditor for Merrill Lynch from 1985 to 1995 earned him the Chairman's Commitment to Excellence Award. Mr. Glick also applied his CPA skills as a Back Office Manager and Manager in the Mergers and Acquisition department of Phibro Energy, the oil trading and refining arm of Salomon Brothers, from 1986 to 1992. Mr. Glick holds a B.S. in accounting from The State University of New York at Binghamton, and has been a standing member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Association and the New York State Society of CPAs since 1985. He holds a FINRA Series 65 designation.
William Ethridge, our director nominee , has 40 years of experience in education and is active in the education sector as an investor and a board member of several companies. Mr. Ethridge is currently a Principal at Ethridge Advisors, a role he has held since 2014, where he provides advisory services to education companies, educational institutions, policy makers, and private equity companies. Mr. Ethridge serves on the boards of education technology and services companies Ruffalo Noel Levitz (Chairman), Finalsite, and Apex Learning (Chairman). From 2008 to 2015, Mr. Ethridge was CEO of Pearson North America, an educational content, assessment and digital services company (LON: PSON) and also served on Pearson’s Board of Directors. From 1998 to 2003, Mr. Ethridge served as CEO and President of Pearson’s U.S. Higher Education,and Professional Publishing Group, and he led the successful integration of several companies into the world’s leading higher education company. From 2003 to 2008 he took on the additional responsibilities of management oversight of Pearson’s International Group. Prior to joining Pearson, Mr. Ethridge was at education publishing companies Prentice Hall (1988 to 1998) and Addison Wesley (1986 to 1988), where he was a Senior Executive. Early in his career, Mr. Ethridge was an Editor with Little, Brown and Co (from 1979 to 1986), where he published in the fields of economics and politics. Mr. Ethridge is a former Chairman of the Association of American Publishers. He previously served as Chairman of CourseSmart, a consortium of electronic textbook publishers, and as a Board member of Frontline Education, Interactive Data Corporation, Turnitin, and Study Group. Mr. Ethridge holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Our board of directors has determined that Mr. Ethridge’s education industry, private equity advisory, and board experience qualifies him to serve as one of our directors.
Mickie Rosen, our director nominee , has three decades of strategy, operating, investment and board experience at the intersection of media and technology. Ms. Rosen has been a principal at Mickie Rosen Consulting since October 2013 and currently serves on public, private and non-profit boards, including Ascendant Digital Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ: ACND), a special purpose acquisition company focused on the attention economy, including interactive digital entertainment, film/television, and music. She also serves on the board of Nine Entertainment Co. (ASX: NEC), Australia’s largest media company, and she advises early to growth stage companies in digital media and commerce. From 2015 to 2019, she served on the board of Pandora Media until it was acquired by SiriusXM and was the President of the Tribune Publishing Company (NASDAQ: TPCO) from 2017 to 2019. Prior to this, from 2016 to 2017 she served as a Senior Advisor to the Boston Consulting Group and was a co-founder and partner of a strategic advisory firm, Whisper Advisors. She was also the Senior Vice President of Global Media & Commerce for Yahoo from 2011 to 2013, where she led Yahoo’s media division worldwide. Prior to Yahoo, from 2008 to 2011, she was a partner with Fuse Capital, a consumer Internet-focused venture capital firm, investing in early stage video, publishing, advertising technology and e-commerce companies. Previously, from 2006 to 2008 Ms. Rosen was the Senior Vice President & General Manager of Entertainment for Fox Interactive Media, where she ran digital businesses such as Rotten Tomatoes, Fox.com and MySpace Entertainment, and played a lead role in envisioning, negotiating and launching OTT leader, Hulu. Earlier in her career, from 2002 to 2006, she was an executive with Fandango, where she helped build the movie information and ticketing company from an early stage start-up to the leader in its space (acquired by Comcast), and from 1998 to 2000, she was an executive with The Walt Disney Company in the Corporate Alliances group. Ms. Rosen built the foundation of her career during her time with McKinsey & Company, from 1990 to 1998. Our board of directors has determined that Ms. Rosen’s digital media, technology and commerce experience as an executive and board director qualifies her to serve as one of our directors.
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., our director nominee , has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer, human resources executive and CEO in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. Currently, he serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Society for Human Resource Management ("SHRM"), the largest human resources professional association in the world, a role he has held since 2017. He was a member of the most recent White House American Workforce Policy Advisory Board and was appointed by President Donald Trump as Chair of the President's Advisory Board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities from 2018 to 2021. Previously, Mr. Taylor was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Mr. Taylor has held Senior and Chief Executive roles at IAC/Interactive Corp (NASDAQ: IAC) from 2005 to 2009, Viacom's Paramount Pictures and Blockbuster Entertainment Group from 1994 to 2002, McGuireWoods LLC in 2004, and Compass Group USA from 2002 to 2004. He currently serves on the Boards of the University of Miami, Jobs for America's Graduates, the American Red Cross, and Guild Education. He is licensed to practice law in Florida, Illinois and Washington, D.C., and is a Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources. Our board of directors has determined that Mr. Taylor’s education industry and board experience qualifies him to serve as one of our directors.
Our Industry Advisors
Ana Dutra has agreed to serve as a Special Advisor . She has over 37 years of experience in technology, M&A and global business transformations. Ms. Dutra currently serves as CEO of Mandela Global Advisors, a firm that advises Boards, CEO's and their management teams on how to build and support world-class executive teams through Board Effectiveness, CXO Succession Planning and Top Team Strategic Alignment. From 2014 to 2018, Ms. Dutra served as President and CEO of the Executives' Club of Chicago. From 2008 to 2013, Ms. Dutra was CEO of Korn / Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting where she created a $400 million new global business through a combination of organic growth, multiple acquisitions, innovative go-to-market approaches and incorporation of technology and digitalization of products and services. From 2004 to 2008, Ms. Dutra served as Global Managing Partner at Accenture (NYSE: ACN). Previously, Ms. Dutra was with Mercer Management Consulting, currently Oliver Wyman, where she served as Managing Partner. From 1994 to 1999, she worked as a Principal at Marakon Management Consulting. Ms. Dutra began her career at IBM (NYSE: IBM) in 1985, where she moved into a Sales Manager and Account Director position and Product Manager for mainframes in Latin America after starting as a software and hardware analyst and consultant. Ms. Dutra currently serves on the Board of Directors of CME Group (NASDAQ: CME), Eletrobras Participacoes SA Eletropar (BOVESPA: LIPR3), Harvest Health & Recreation (CNSX: HARV), First Internet Bank (NASDAQ: INBK), Elkay Manufacturing, Lifespace Communities and M. Holland Company. Ms. Dutra serves as Chair of the Latino Corporate Directors Educational Foundation and as a Board Member of Blessings-in-a-Backpack, Women Business Collaborative, World Sustainability Development Forum and Chicago Innovation. She is a Senior Advisor for AiRo Digital Labs, CoachLogix and Humantelligence, technology companies in the digital, talent and training and development spaces. She also serves on the international advisory board for Fundacao Don Cabral, the top higher education organization in Latin America. Ms. Dutra holds an M.B.A. from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, a Masters in Economics from Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro, a Juris Doctor from Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro and a Bachelor in Economics from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. She is a Certified Cybersecurity Oversight expert by the Carneie Mellon and NACD master program.
Manoj Kulkarni has agreed to serve as a Special Advisor . He has over 33 years of experience in e-learning, education, training, retail and technology industries. Currently, Mr. Kulkarni serves as CEO and Board Member at RealizeIt, a personalized learning or adaptive learning software system, a role he has held since 2014. From 2008 to 2013, Mr. Kulkarni held various executive positions at education company Perdoceo (NASDAQ: PRDO), including Chief Information Officer, President of Words of Wisdom LLC, and Chief Technology and Innovation Officer. From 2007 to 2008, Mr. Kulkarni served as Technology Strategy Consultant of Eclipsys, a healthcare information company. From 1993 to 2007, Mr. Kulkarni held various roles at Toys R Us, including Vice President of Information Technology. Mr. Kulkarni began his career at Unisys India as a systems engineer in 1988. Mr. Kulkarni holds an M.B.A. from The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a BEng in Mechanical Engineering from Savitribai Phule Pune University.
Dr. Sean “Jack” Buckley has agreed to serve as a Special Advisor . He has over 27 years of experience in education and technology. Currently, Dr. Buckley serves as Head of Assessment and Learning Sciences at Roblox, an online gaming platform and game creation company. From 2019 to 2020, Dr. Buckley was President and Chief Scientist at Imbellus, a game-based assessment technology startup that was acquired by Roblox. Dr. Buckley was previously Senior Vice President at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), where he led their research and evaluation area from 2016 to 2019, and he still serves as Institute Fellow on several projects. From 2014 to 2016, he was Senior Vice President of Research at The College Board, where he helped lead the redesign of the SAT. From 2011 to 2013, Dr. Buckley served as Commissioner of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), where he was responsible for the measurement of all aspects of US education, including conducting the National Assessment of Educational Progress and coordinating participation in international assessments. While at NCES, he also acted as a senior technical adviser to Department of Education leadership and co-chair of its data strategy team. From 2008 to 2013, Dr. Buckley worked as an Associate Professor at NYU. From 2005 to 2006, Dr. Buckley served as an Analytic Methodologist in the Central Intelligence Agency. From 2003 to 2005, Dr. Buckley was an Assistant Professor at Boston College. Dr. Buckley began his career in the US Navy as a nuclear engineer and surface warfare officer. Dr. Buckley holds an M.A. and PhD in Political Science and Government from Stony Brook University and a B.A. in Government from Harvard University.
Eric Pinckert has agreed to serve as a Special Advisor . He has over 28 years of experience across law, strategic branding, corporate communications and agency management. Mr. Pinckert currently is Managing Director of Brand Culture Company, LLC, an agency that he co-founded in 2006 that helps advance business performance through brand development, culture building, and revenue growth. At Brand Culture he has led the strategy practice for the past 15 years to the present, overseeing client engagement for FORTUNE 100, middle market, and early stage companies, and private equity firms and their portfolio companies, including Brentwood Associates, The Gores Group, Skyview Capital, Serent Capital, and Vistria. From 2004 to 2006, he served as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for an early-stage search and local marketing technology provider that later became Connectivity, Inc. From 2003 to 2004, he served as the Head of Strategic Marketing and Company Communications and later Head of Corporate Affairs for LRN Corporation, an ethics and compliance software and corporate eLearning company. From 1996 to 2003, he conducted and supervised strategic branding engagements in the finance, healthcare, and technology at branding and interactive media consultancy Siegel + Gale where he was a Senior Vice President from 1999 to 2003. From 1993 to 1996, Mr. Pinckert began his career as an attorney representing technology clients at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati. He also worked for the law firms of Rogers & Wells (now Clifford Chance) from in 1992 and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher from 1989 to 1990. Mr. Pinckert served on the Board of Directors of Optimus Corporation, a logistic management systems and software developer, from 2005 to 2011. Mr. Pinckert holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Journal on Legislation and A.B and A.M. degrees in English from Stanford University.
Jervis Williams has agreed to serve as a Special Advisor . He has over 25 years of public and private company finance experience in the technology industry. Mr. Williams is currently CFO of Metawave Corporation, a venture-funded company in the 5G and autonomous driving markets where he oversees finance, human resources, and investor relations, a role he has held since 2019. Prior to Metawave, Mr. Williams was Principal at Swerve Financial, a consulting firm he founded in 2016 that provides CFO and human resource services to venture-funded companies. Previously, Mr. Williams spent a combined eleven years in various Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) roles at public software companies. In all roles, he supported the SEC reporting requirements. From 2010 to 2015, Mr. Williams worked at Citrix (NASDAQ: CTXS), where he helped support the company’s transition to a SaaS business model. From 2008 to 2010, Mr. Williams was with VMware (NYSE: VMW), where as Senior FP&A manager, he supported VMware’s $200 million acquisition of EMC’s Ionix. From 2004 to 2008, Mr. Williams was Senior Manager, Finance & Operations at Wind River (NASDAQ: WIND). Before Wind River, from 2003 to 2004, Mr. Williams served as Vice President of Business Development for Pillar Vision, dba Noah Basketball, a startup providing athlete training technology to NBA and NCAA teams. Prior to Pillar Vision from 2000 to 2003, Mr. Williams served as CFO and COO for Omega Music, an independent music label that partnered with Universal Music Group and MGM Studios. Before Omega Music, from 1995 to 2000, Mr. Williams had various FP&A and Business Development roles at Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HPQ). Prior, Mr. Williams was a Senior Finance Analyst with Apple Computer (NASDAQ: AAPL) from 1993 to 1995, where he served as the lead analyst for the Higher Education Division. Directly after business school in 1991, Mr. Williams served as controller for Bust-It Records, a joint venture with Capital Records. Mr. Williams holds an M.B.A. from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a B.A. in Political Science with emphasis in Business Administration from University of California, Los Angeles.
James Sparkman has agreed to serve as a Special Advisor . He has over 30 years of operating, M&A and financing experience in the education and human capital technology and services sectors. Mr. Sparkman is a founder of Excolere Equity Partners, LLC, along with Anthony “Tony” Miller and Peter Davis. Currently, Mr. Sparkman is the founding Partner of Alpha Education LLC, an advisory firm serving colleges and universities (since 2011), and P3•EDU LLC, a media and event company focused on public-private partnerships in higher education (since 2017). From 2006 to 2010, Mr. Sparkman was Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Heald Education. From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Sparkman was an Entrepreneur in Residence at Consor Capital LLC. Mr. Sparkman was the founding Vice President of New Mountain Capital from 1999 to 2003 when the firm raised its first investment fund ($770 million) and led a controlling PIPE investment in Strayer Education, now Strategic Education (NASDAQ: STRA). From 1999 to 2002, Mr. Sparkman also co-founded and served on the Board of Directors of HigherMarkets, Inc., a venture-backed university SaaS company that was sold to SciQuest, Inc., now JAGGAER. Before joining New Mountain Capital, Mr. Sparkman led mergers and acquisitions, capital raising, and other investment banking activities at First Education Group, an affiliate of EduVentures, from 1997 to 1999. From 1995 to 1997, Mr. Sparkman was an early executive and Vice President of private student loan pioneer The First Marblehead Corporation, now Cognition Financial. Mr. Sparkman began his career as a public school teacher and charter corps member with Teach For America. Mr. Sparkman holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.A. in American Civilization from Middlebury College.