The Chronicle Analyzes Possible Sale of Blackboard: Pearson?

Dear Commons Community,

In light of the Reuters report yesterday that Blackboard was being put up for auction, The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article (subscription required) analyzing potential bidders. Pearson emerges as a possible buyer as well as 2u, or an equity firm. Here is an excerpt:

“Jeff Alderson, principal analyst at Eduventures, said that there would hardly be a bidding war for the company, which is losing some customers to newer players such as Instructure. But he said that because Blackboard had reported strong sales in overseas markets and is working to streamline its operations and update its products, it might command something like a $3-billion-plus valuation.

Who might buy it?

Mr. Alderson guessed it could be a major textbook company like Pearson, which just sold the Financial Times for $1.3 billion, and so has the wherewithal to be a serious bidder for Blackboard. Or he said it could be a major technology provider such as Oracle, or a private-equity firm that saw an opportunity for further growth.

Blackboard was last purchased by Providence Equity Partners, in 2011, for $1.64 billion. If another private-equity firm did buy it, that might result in little change in the company’s products, since the firm would essentially be betting that the current turnaround attempt will work.

Trace Urdan, an independent analyst, said that companies that help colleges build online programs, such as 2U, could also be interested in buying Blackboard. “It could jump-start an emerging platform,” he said.”

Those of us interested in instructional technology will be most interested to see how this plays out.




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