Tech Firm that Lost CEO in Amtrak Crash to Merge

ApprenNet will merge with a San Francisco firm and has named a successor to Rachel Jacobs.

Rachel Jacobs, CEO of ApprenNet, died in the Amtrak train crash.

Rachel Jacobs, CEO of ApprenNet, died in the Amtrak train crash.

Philadelphia-based video-based learning firm ApprenNet has merged with Handsfree Learning, a San Francisco-based mobile app company.

In May, ApprenNet CEO Rachel Jacobs died in the Amtrak train crash that killed eight and injured more than 200.

Paul Freedman, the co-founder Handsfree Learning, will serve as the new ApprenNet CEO.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to carry out former CEO Rachel Jacobs’ vision, and I look forward to working with the innovative team at ApprenNet,” said Freedman in a statement.

An ApprenNet spokesperson told me that the merger did not have anything to do with Jacobs’ death. Jacobs and Freedman met earlier this year at the ASU+GSV Summit, where they began talks of combining companies.

The combined company plans on having offices in Philadelphia and San Francisco while expanding its salesforce.

In a statement, ApprenNet said that both companies have “pioneered the use of learning-by-doing technology” helping to address “the shortage of virtual training tools in demand among higher education institutions and employers focused on the preparation of highly skilled workers.”

Emily Foote, co-founder of ApprenNet and the combined company’s chief customer officer said: “We hear from employers every day that new hires lack both soft skills and technical ability. This merger helps employers and educators tackle both aspects of today’s skills gap through a mobile-friendly solution.”

ApprenNet says its cloud-based online soft-skills development platform is currently used by 50 of the country’s largest pharmacies, retailers and colleges. Handsfree Learning developed a mobile app for learners of hands-on skills like culinary arts and cosmetology. They say it’s much better than watching “How To” videos on YouTube.

“We know that for many fields, learning-by-doing is critical to preparing learners for the workforce but has traditionally been limited to in-person programs. Our new capabilities make it easier for employers and educators to offer this training at scale,” said Freedman.

Jacobs, 39, is survived by her husband and two-year-old son. Her family asked for memorial donations to go to two different charities.