BIDDING FOR BLACKBOARD: Blackboard has been on a buying spree, snapping up 10 companies in recent years. Now the script has flipped: Reuters' sources say Blackboard is exploring a sale that could potentially be worth $3 billion. Deutsche Bank AG and Bank of America have reportedly been hired to run an auction.
Founded in 1997, Blackboard was acquired by Providence Equity Partners for $1.64 billion in 2011. E-Literate's Phil Hill says the deal shouldn't be terribly surprising, given that Providence has done what private equity firms do best: cut employees, restructure and sell. He writes: “Blackboard has gone through several rounds of layoffs, and many key employees have already left the company due to new management and restructuring plans.”
Claiming users in 1,900 education institutions across 100 countries, Blackboard has long been a market leader in the learning management system market. But the company is losing ground to upstarts like Instructure, whose tools some users say are more intuitive and easy to use. Recognizing that it does not enjoy the best reputation among teachers and students, Blackboard recently unveiled a “New Learning Initiative” that promises a more streamlined, user-friendly product experience.