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The class agreed to acquire a partnership with Blackboard. That’s what it means


The fast-growing startup Class Technologies will acquire a tool for the Blackboard Collaborate virtual class, reports ad last week.

Technology class has become one of edtech’s best-funded new startups since the start of the pandemic, raising more than $ 164 million to create a number of features in the top-class Zoom class. This means that colleges, schools and corporate learning organizations pay Class for the opportunity to issue assignments, proficiency tests and attend Zoom, one of the largest video conferencing platforms on the market. Blackboard Collaborate is a video conferencing platform that runs on the popular Blackboard learning management system. Investors in the industry describe it as “also manageable” next to the much larger Zoom platform.

None of the companies will confirm the details of the price, but an unnamed investor who knows about the deal said Techcrunch that it closed at $ 210 million.

What is changing? Company executives say the Blackboard video conferencing platform will be acquired by Class sometime this year, but Blackboard’s learning management system will remain with parent company Anthology, which combined with Blackboard last year.

The name will also change. The Blackboard Collaborate will be called the Class Collaborate as soon as the ink dries. And an undisclosed number of people working on the Blackboard Collaborate team will join the Class. But, as companies say, they will continue to offer full support for both Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate features.

Officials say they see it as a long-term relationship rather than a quick connection, and executives comment that the deal is a “partnership” on which they intend to build, not just an acquisition.

The agreement also expands the scope of the Class: together, the Class and Blackboard Collaborate will cover more than 1,750 institutions of higher education, K12 and corporate learning and development, officials say.

For Blackboard Collaborate customers, the deal means a significant investment in a virtual classroom that would not otherwise have happened, says Anthology CEO Jim Milton. Milton also emphasizes that this will allow Anthology to invest more in LMS Learn Ultra, where, he said, they have tripled the number of developers focused on this platform.

For Class CEO Michael Chasen, it’s also something of a meeting. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Chaisen was actually a co-founder of Blackboard back in 1999, and he served as CEO for many years.

Uninvest and invest

When Anthology merged with Blackboard, the company was mostly interested in LMS, says Troy Williams, managing director of Achieve and University Ventures. The LMS helped them build a end-to-end solution, and the video parts of the Collaborate puzzle were not central to this.

At the same time, as interest rates rise, the sale gives Anthology the opportunity to unload Collaborate to invest in this LMS, and pay off any debt that may have been accumulated during Blackboard’s purchase and during Anthology Veritas Capital’s initial acquisition and rebranding, Williams says.

Class is a smaller company, he adds, and the purchase gives its leaders a chance to switch customers to their core product, which they might not otherwise get.

“In the long run, they may close the Collaborate product, but only after they are able to transfer these customers to their core product. [the Zoom add-ons]”- says Williams.

If Class still finishes consolidating and moving customers from Collaborate to Zoom, the deal will make it harder to choose Collaborate customers for competitors like WebX and Microsoft Teams because there is an easy way to switch customers between them and Zoom, Williams says.

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