Blackboard owners reportedly seeking $3B sale
- According to a report from Reuters, Blackboard majority owner Providence Equity Partners LLC is considering selling the ed tech company for up to $3 billion, including debt.
- The private equity firm has hired Deutsche Bank AG and Bank of America Corp to oversee the sale, according to Reuters' sources.
- Blackboard is used by 1,900 institutions in 100 countries, and its growth in the learning management space has slowed amid increasing competition in the last several years.
Founded in 1997 and quickly becoming a leader in the space, Blackboard has been privately held since 2011, when Providence paid $1.64 billion and assumed its $130 million net debt. It recently launched a redesign of its flagship LMS, focused on student experience and spurred in part by criticism leveled at it over the years by students and educators alike, as chronicled in a recent piece by Wired that dubbed it a "classroom pariah."
Since CEO Jay Bhatt took over in 2012, the company has also been noted for its "acquisition spree" as it has worked to build out its presence in the growing K-12 LMS marketplace. During that time, it was also rumored as a potential buyer for Pearson's PowerSchool SIS — though that was one acquisition it didn't end up making.
What happens to Blackboard next — whether it is indeed for sale or not — remains to be seen. While plenty of private equity firms have made ed acquisitions lately, including the $2 billion acquisition of Skillsoft by Charterhouse Capital Partners, some are also looking to have their ed investments go public again, as seen with McGraw-Hill Education and Apollo Global Management.
Reuters reports that for-profit education providers ITT Educational Services Inc and Education Management Corp are among Providence's previous education investments.
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