It was in Twitterland that I heard the April 19th announcement that Blackboard was contracting with Barclays Capital to respond to non-binding offers to buy. And that’s all that Blackboard press release said and all it said it would ever said. But it did say offers plural. At the end of this listing will be sources so far who’ve engaged in this entertaining speculation.
My own speculations are informed by
- the April 14th, just prior, release from Blackboard, to whit, McGraw-Hill and Blackboard Launch Combined Course Solution Worldwide.
- a phone interview with OpenView Venture Partners who recently invested in Instructure.
- the fact that 700 current Blackboard clients must change their LMS to stay current, and not necessarily stay with Blackboard. (Casey mentions this too).
- oodles of reading. Check out those articles below.
Unlike Green and Kim, I think the bidders are not investment firms but companies who either are capitalized well enough to sustain a long term evolution into the educational space and have already indicated a desire to do so (Microsoft or Google, as Kim suggests) or companies who are already firmly entrenched in the higher education market (SunGard or even Oracle) and may already have versions of their own of the Blackboard product types (analytics, notification, point-of-sale, content management).
Kenneth C. Green (aka Casey Green), InsideHigher Ed Blog U: http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/digital_tweed/buying_blackboard
Josh Kim, InsideHigherEd, Blog U: http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology_and_learning/buying_blackboard_thoughts_on_questions_from_casey_green
Eric Savitz, Forbes: http://blogs.forbes.com/ericsavitz/2011/04/20/blackboard-who-are-the-buyers/
Jerry Bishop, The Higher Ed CIO, http://blog.thehigheredcio.com/2011/04/who-will-buy-blackboard.html
William J Raduchel, Resignation Letter, Board of Directors, Blackboard. Feb. 14, 2011 http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1106942/000095012311015777/w80900exv17w1.htm
Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, latest as of this date (but read priors as well) http://mfeldstein.com/the-changing-dynamics-of-the-educational-technology-markets/?utm_campaign=twitter&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitter
Phil Hill, Delta Initiative, http://www.deltainitiative.com/index.php/blog/50-karma-enters-the-lms-market and http://www.deltainitiative.com/index.php/di-insights-and-blog/23-blog-higher-education/51-visigoths-at-the-lms-gates