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Credly Is the New King of Digital Badging

A number of significant movers and shakers in the IT certification realm have turned toward digital badging in recent years. One company is holding the reins of this emerging technology for all of them.

Credly is the new sheriff in IT certification's digital badging world.When it comes to issuing digital badges — which some IT certification vendors are awarding to candidates when they earn a certification — one company has become the industry's top lawman. Digital badging, which we previously looked at in this article, is a recent trend in the IT training and certification industry that provides IT workers with a useful online record of their ongoing tech education.


Digital badges have rapidly increased in popularity in recent months. Microsoft is now awarding badges to candidates not just for earning certifications, but for passing individual exams. CompTIA just recently climbed on the bandwagon by adopting digital badges into its training and certification program. IBM, Oracle, ISACA, and other large organizations are also using digital badging to help IT professionals and others better display their training success.


What's interesting about all this digital badging, is that these IT credentials are all being administered by one company: Credly, a New York-based firm that has established one of the country's largest digital credential domains. Which begs the question, what is Credly? And how was it able to gain control over so much of the current digital badging landscape?


Birth of a Badger


Credly was founded in New York in 2012 by Jonathon Finkelstein, who also serves as the company's current CEO. Credly's mission, described in the words of its founder on the company's website, is to “connect people to opportunity based on their talent and capabilities."


While this may sound more like an undertaking for a staffing or executive search company, Credly's leadership believes that digital credentials are key to helping connect employers and workers. Interestingly, Credly goes a step further by equating the value of digital badges to virtual currency.


"Digital credentials are fast becoming the currency of choice in an international marketplace of knowledge and skills," the site's copy explains. "Credly and its community of users are building that currency and the underlying infrastructure."


Credly also extends the value of digital badges into the arena of social responsibility. "We believe that digital credentials will improve equity and expand access to opportunity, including for populations and individuals who have been traditionally underserved and overlooked." launched in 2013, and companies were quick to invest in the newcomer’s philosophy. Credly quickly signed up more than 1,000 organizations to use its digital credentials; today, the number of companies and associations using Credly's services has increased to over 12,000.


Buying Acclaim


In 2018, Credly engineered a significant expansion of its digital badging services by purchasing Acclaim, a digital badge platform created by Pearson, a multinational education giant operating for well over a century.


Pearson is best known to IT professionals as a publisher of high-quality tech education books and materials. Pearson's well-respected imprints include Peachpit, Que Publishing, Cisco Press, and Addison-Wesley Professional. IT pros who have earned certifications are also familiar with Pearson VUE, arguably the most influential computer-based testing company in the world.