Provinent (Vitesse Learning) Files for Bankruptcy Protection

* Please see the Provinent Wiki for up to date information or to post any job offers. *

It’s now official. Provinent, an e-learning company in Fredericton and part of Vitesse Learning (I can’t figure out what name to use any more) has closed its doors.

From Fredericton’s Daily Gleaner:

Provinent, a local e-learning company, has laid off 44 workers from its Fredericton office after filing a notice of bankruptcy protection.
Ted Root, the CEO for Vitesse Learning in Toronto and Baltimore, Provinent’s parent company, sent a letter to dozens of employees throughout Atlantic Canada and Ontario on Tuesday informing them of the job losses.
The notice of bankruptcy leaves the provincial government on the hook for more than $1.5 million.
Provinent is an e-learning consulting and content-development company that provides custom learning systems.
Much of the contract work was done for clients in the U.S., but Canadian clients included Canadian Tire, Scotiabank and Maple Leaf Foods.
Root said Provinent foreclosed and subsequently shut down its U.S. operations.

The commentary can wait, but I’m sorry to hear that in the middle of Winter a lot of people are now out of work. I know what it’s like.

* Please see the Provinent Wiki for up to date information or to post any job offers. *

17 Responses to “Provinent (Vitesse Learning) Files for Bankruptcy Protection”

  1. Ben Watson

    There is no doubt that New Brunswick is a hard place to run an eLearning company. In earlier times NB’s close proximity to the US and low exchange rates coupled with the support of McKennna’s government made eLearning a viable industry. Nowadays India continues to lead the way for outsourcing for the production of eLearning content, the Canadian dollar now longer holds any advantage and the new liberal government has yet to decide if the eLearning industry is one they will continue to support. The industry group LearnNB and the continued presence of SkillSoft, the industry’s global leader, are likely the only remaining bastions (maybe Innovatia). NRC is pretty much out of the space and the market consolidation continues (SkillSoft in the process of acquiring Thomson NETg and NIIT having acquired Element K). That said, New Brunswick still has an opportunity to band together and become a strategic supplier. The challenges the eLearning industry faces in NB are but a subset of the overall challenges the province faces as it struggles to find relevance in the new Canada/world order (declining population and dwindling revenue base being two key issues).

    (I still wish that New Brunswick had made a play to get Google to put their massive new data center here as NB has lots of land and energy sources.)

    Reply
  2. Curtis Wiens

    Vitesse Learning Inc. failed because of self inflicted wounds. The integration of Provinent and Vitesse Learning could not have gone worse. Dozens of people left the company over the last year including all of the top sales staff, the former president of the company, the Creative Director and nearly all of SF development due to the conditions the merger created.

    Although the the executive level knew that Epstein Enterprises was going to dissolve the company a week ago they waited until the last second to tell the employees giving us half a day’s warning. The whole thing is an unethical mess for clients as well as employees of Vitesse Learning Inc.

    Reply
  3. David Francis

    I’m also sorry to hear of this most recent business shutdown – I would agree with Ben that opportunities are still abundant in eLearning but this continued emphasis on developing custom content for large or Fortune 500 companies suprises me. This will be stressful for affected families, but I hope their professional experiences gained will be reused soon in future!

    There are so many more opportunies in social networking, consulting, continuing professional education, research/applied research and innovative post-secondary training and education program development/delivery, the area that I currently work in in Saskatchewan It is too bad that all some funding agencies can get their minds around is this custom-shop mentality, which largely has moved to India and Russia some time ago.

    In my opinion, NB still has an edge on developing and delivering some products/services above since many smart people will successfully develop them irrespective of what ACOA or NB Government funders think. And they will be smaller, distributed, flexible teams as Harold has argued for for some time.

    Now it’s time to lower tax burden (personal income tax and exemptions) in favour of these operators – Harold, is this not the oldest argument going in the Maritimes? Better get off my soap box and back to work here in the West – hope all are well!

    David Francis

    Reply
  4. John Smith

    It is indeed a tragedy, particularly since no severance was paid out. The group at Provinent and Vitesse were loyal, hard working individuals who really wanted to make this work. Once all of the key sales people left revenues began to shrink at an alarming rate. Operationally, Provinent was top notch. The executive team kept most of the leadership in the dark about the state of affairs. There is hope however, the same group of hard working individuals are pulling together to find opportunities for one another-a testament to teamwork.

    Reply
  5. SJ

    The closing of Vitesse/Provinent was a calculated move that has been developing for some time. Starting immediately following the merger of the two companies, Epstein Enterprises Inc. started withholding sales commissions for all business development representatives at Vitesse. Because these people had signed NDAs they were forced to quite without alerting others to this situation.
    This lead to a complete turnover of the pharmaceutical sales force that had built Vitesselearning into one of the most powerful players in the eLearning sector (pre-merger).
    As anyone who has dealt in this field knows, sales is relationship based, so the new sales people had to develop their relationships prior to establishing new work, thus a huge empty window emerged that was insurmountable from a business perspective.
    Thus, Epstein was justified in shutting down a “failing” operation, all the while creating the situation itself.
    The final shut down itself was handled in a brutal and illegal fashion. Accrued vacation pay was denied; pending expence reimbursements were denied; on-going COBRA coverage was denied.
    Those are the tangible illegalities involved.
    Following this shutdown of the US operations, the Canadian operations are undergoing a “reorganization” with the full intent to try and regain the US pharmaceutical contracts that were abandoned by Epstein’s closure. Essentially, Epstein is trying to snag contracts that were initially established by the US company that he acquired in the merger.
    It has also come to light that Epstein Enterprises will sue any former Vitesse employee who attempts to contact their former contacts in order to try and regain that business on a private contract basis.
    So Mr. Epstein is trying a very ethically questionable maneuver wherein he tries to claim that on the one hand, all contracts and rights for former Vitesse employees are null and void, but on the other hand these same employees are still bound to some clause that was a part of the very contracts that he has declared null and void.

    Reply
  6. Paul Lyon

    Hi SJ, I just checked into it, and you are free to pursue any clients without threat of lawsuit. I checked because I don’t want that to hold you back from pursuing any potential work. Kim should be able to fill you in.

    Reply
  7. ET

    As a freelancer working on a different time zone, Vitesselearning gave me no notice of the closure whatsoever. I have no work samples from 2.5 years at the company and I haven’t been paid for 60 hours work. Mr Epstein and his grizzly crew have a lot to answer for.

    Reply
  8. Jerry Van Olst

    GEVCinteractive core business is custom eLearning content development. Although we are located in Ottawa, we are always looking for good people (instructional designers, coureware developers, programmers, media specialist). Resumes can be sent to iwannawork@gevc.com

    Regards,
    Jerry Van Olst
    Business Development
    GEVCinteractive

    Reply
  9. Former Vitesse Employee

    The only person that should have lost his job was [deleted by editor]. I have never worked for a more un-dynamic bump on a log in my life. His town hall meetings were embarrassingly void of content. Listening to him answer questions with mindless exe-speak was painful. Fredericton Vitesse has no hope of ever capturing the market that SF Vitesse held. Although there were some very talented people in Fredericton there were some seriously inept and untalented people in high positions. Amazing to see something with so much potential get run into the ground.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)