About Watershed

Our legacy is your advantage. We've been in the learning and development space for nearly 20 years. From building the middleware that some of the largest formal learning systems operate on, to developing the first learning analytics platform powered by xAPI, we’ve seen it all.

The Watershed Story

2000: Our Heritage

Mike Rustici founded Rustici Software and became the world’s leading expert in a technical standard called SCORM and learning systems interoperability. Mike and his business partner Tim Martin set out to build a company focused on attracting and retaining great people. And they succeeded in creating an incredible culture filled with talented, motivated, and friendly people.

Rustici Software found a niche helping people with SCORM and quickly became the authority in learning systems interoperability while also becoming familiar with hundreds of learning systems.

2002-2012: Why We Got Stuck

Technology marched on, but learning systems remained stagnant.

While the world's technical landscape evolved with mobile, social, and cloud technology, corporate learning technology remained dormant and struggled to grow past dated e-learning courses delivered via monolithic LMSs.

During this period, Rustici Software's primary standard was SCORM—which was created in 2000. The L&D industry would be confined to this model for the next decade.

2012: Project Tin Can

Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL), a research lab within the U.S. Department of Defense, awarded Rustici Software a research grant to develop a next-generation protocol for learning system interoperability.

Rustici Software launched “Project Tin Can,” an industry-wide initiative to gather requirements that attracted hundreds of participants. After being analyzed, requirements were combined to create the Tin Can API—a modern framework for exchanging learning data.

Along the way, members of Rustici Software reimagined what a modern learning ecosystem should look like.

2013: Tin Can—A Revolution Begins

Rustici Software released the Tin Can API (now called the Experience API or xAPI) and invented the Learning Record Store (LRS).

At the time, most organizations relied on LMSs for training. But learning happens everywhere, not just in an LMS. And thanks to xAPI and the LRS, we could start tracking everything from mobile and social to informal and real-world learning events in one place. Users could now embrace learning wherever it happened, while instructional designers were free to use the delivery mechanism that best enhanced every learning experience.

That’s when an R&D group at Rustici Software began to envision a new LRS-centric learning ecosystem—and Watershed was born.

2014: Early Vision

More than 200 companies applied to pilot Watershed—including Google, AT&T, and YUM! Brands. Excitement built around the innovation and disruption that was suddenly available in the learning space.

Cutting-edge innovators were eager to experiment with new ideas and technologies, such as:

  • training delivery without an LMS
  • automatically linking training with performance data
  • portable learning records (Personal Data Locker or experience graph)
  • capturing and analyzing social, informal, mobile, game-based, and simulation-based learning events
  • awarding badges and accomplishments for learning
  • consolidating data from many disparate learning systems

2015: The Big Shift

R&D turns into reality and Tin Can API is renamed xAPI.

xAPI's continued adoption removed constraints, enabled new tools, and inspired a wave of market innovation—as these tools produced data that's easily consumable in an xAPI format.

Mike Rustici also spun off Watershed into its own company with a $4M Series A funding round and sold Rustici Software to Learning Technologies Group plc (LTG).

Thanks to Watershed's learning analytics platform, learning professionals could now track, capture, and analyze data.

2016: Watershed Is Born

We coined the terms learning analytics and Learning Analytics Platform in the context of corporate L&D, and now it’s part of the industry lexicon.

2017: Reality Coming to Fruition

We earned recognition from the Brandon Hall Group by winning Gold Awards for both “Excellence for Workforce Management” and “Excellence in Learning.” And the Nashville Business Journal also named Watershed as one of the best places to work in the city.

2019: Watershed Joins LTG

Watershed was acquired by Learning Technologies Group plc (LTG), and our beloved mascot and fearless leader Mike Rustici stepped aside for a well-deserved sabbatical. In his place, David Ells, who previously served as Watershed’s Director of Technology, was promoted to Managing Director.

2020 & Beyond: There’s a Bright Future Ahead

We’ve grown to be the leading provider in LRS and learning analytics products. And our clients continue to use Watershed’s insights to not only increase operational efficiency and reduce unnecessary spend, but also improve the overall experience of their learners.


We still believe that learning analytics, modern learning ecosystems, and measuring business impact is the right focus for Watershed. After all, developing people makes the world a better place. That's why we remain dedicated to positively impacting the effectiveness of all learning professionals.

2000: Our Heritage

Mike Rustici founded Rustici Software and became the world’s leading expert in a technical standard called SCORM and learning systems interoperability. Mike and his business partner Tim Martin set out to build a company focused on attracting and retaining great people. And they succeeded in creating an incredible culture filled with talented, motivated, and friendly people.

Rustici Software found a niche helping people with SCORM and quickly became the authority in learning systems interoperability while also becoming familiar with hundreds of learning systems.

2002-2012: Why We Got Stuck

Technology marched on, but learning systems remained stagnant.

While the world's technical landscape evolved with mobile, social, and cloud technology, corporate learning technology remained dormant and struggled to grow past dated e-learning courses delivered via monolithic LMSs.

During this period, Rustici Software's primary standard was SCORM—which was created in 2000. The L&D industry would be confined to this model for the next decade.

2012: Project Tin Can

Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL), a research lab within the U.S. Department of Defense, awarded Rustici Software a research grant to develop a next-generation protocol for learning system interoperability.

Rustici Software launched “Project Tin Can,” an industry-wide initiative to gather requirements that attracted hundreds of participants. After being analyzed, requirements were combined to create the Tin Can API—a modern framework for exchanging learning data.

Along the way, members of Rustici Software reimagined what a modern learning ecosystem should look like.

2013: Tin Can—A Revolution Begins

Rustici Software released the Tin Can API (now called the Experience API or xAPI) and invented the Learning Record Store (LRS).

At the time, most organizations relied on LMSs for training. But learning happens everywhere, not just in an LMS. And thanks to xAPI and the LRS, we could start tracking everything from mobile and social to informal and real-world learning events in one place. Users could now embrace learning wherever it happened, while instructional designers were free to use the delivery mechanism that best enhanced every learning experience.

That’s when an R&D group at Rustici Software began to envision a new LRS-centric learning ecosystem—and Watershed was born.

2014: Early Vision

More than 200 companies applied to pilot Watershed—including Google, AT&T, and YUM! Brands. Excitement built around the innovation and disruption that was suddenly available in the learning space.

Cutting-edge innovators were eager to experiment with new ideas and technologies, such as:

  • training delivery without an LMS
  • automatically linking training with performance data
  • portable learning records (Personal Data Locker or experience graph)
  • capturing and analyzing social, informal, mobile, game-based, and simulation-based learning events
  • awarding badges and accomplishments for learning
  • consolidating data from many disparate learning systems

2015: The Big Shift

R&D turns into reality and Tin Can API is renamed xAPI.

xAPI's continued adoption removed constraints, enabled new tools, and inspired a wave of market innovation—as these tools produced data that's easily consumable in an xAPI format.

Mike Rustici also spun off Watershed into its own company with a $4M Series A funding round and sold Rustici Software to Learning Technologies Group plc (LTG).

Thanks to Watershed's learning analytics platform, learning professionals could now track, capture, and analyze data.

2016: Watershed Is Born

We coined the terms learning analytics and Learning Analytics Platform in the context of corporate L&D, and now it’s part of the industry lexicon.

2017: Reality Coming to Fruition

We earned recognition from the Brandon Hall Group by winning Gold Awards for both “Excellence for Workforce Management” and “Excellence in Learning.” And the Nashville Business Journal also named Watershed as one of the best places to work in the city.

2019: Watershed Joins LTG

Watershed was acquired by Learning Technologies Group plc (LTG), and our beloved mascot and fearless leader Mike Rustici stepped aside for a well-deserved sabbatical. In his place, David Ells, who previously served as Watershed’s Director of Technology, was promoted to Managing Director.

2020 & Beyond: There’s a Bright Future Ahead

We’ve grown to be the leading provider in LRS and learning analytics products. And our clients continue to use Watershed’s insights to not only increase operational efficiency and reduce unnecessary spend, but also improve the overall experience of their learners.


We still believe that learning analytics, modern learning ecosystems, and measuring business impact is the right focus for Watershed. After all, developing people makes the world a better place. That's why we remain dedicated to positively impacting the effectiveness of all learning professionals.

We’ve built hard-won experience in creating solutions for our clients. And what we’ve discovered along the way is that while leveraging technology in a common domain is a crucial part of our value proposition, the investments in our people, domain knowledge, and relationships with clients continue to be the biggest value add.

David Ells, CEO

Our Culture and Core Values

Innovation and disruption are chaotic. That’s why we’re constantly pushing ourselves to the limit, each time reaching just a bit further outside our comfort zones. There will be setbacks, confusion, and mistakes. But we remain steady, confident, and dedicated to our core values—which are at the heart of all we do. They’ve brought us this far, and they’ll continue to push us onward and upward.

  • Be very real. In other words, be yourself, infuse your personality into all that you do, and don’t hide behind pretense (please tell us if we ever fail to live up to this standard).
  • Work with thoughtful urgency. We move fast, but with purpose and consideration. Building a company is a marathon, but there are times when we need to sprint.
  • Embrace positive debate. Although we solve difficult problems, we realize nobody has all the answers. Sometimes we disagree, but when we do, we do so respectfully and always presume each other’s positive intentions.
  • Seek constant improvement. Our work is never done because there’s always room for improvement. We appreciate constructive feedback and embrace mistakes, as they’re our best opportunities to learn.
  • Make others better. As we develop ourselves, we develop those around us. We exist to help our clients and their employees do their jobs better, reinforce their confidence, and realize their full potentials.
  • Have pocket presence. To make game-winning decisions, you must be prepared, insightful, and ready to take action in a blink of an eye.

A lot of what we’re doing in our learning program wasn’t measurable before Watershed

Gordon Trujillo, Visa

Our Success Is Your Success

We’re proud of the recognition and awards we’ve earned for our accomplishments in learning and development as well as creating a great place to work.

Work at Watershed

Want to join our team? We’re pretty weird, and we work really hard. If you think you can handle working at Watershed, check out our open roles.

See our open roles.

Get in touch

Our team of learning and technology experts are here to help you build an evidence-based learning strategy so you can get the most out of Watershed—and your learning programs.

What about Learning Technologies Group?

We’re also owned by Learning Technologies Group plc, a publicly traded company based in the United Kingdom. While some of our team members interact with them on a regular basis, most of us continue to focus on the work we’ve been doing for years. And, because LTG owns businesses that may compete with Watershed partners, we passionately maintain our independence and reserve the right to refuse information and opportunities from other Group businesses.

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