Class Technologies – the Zoom-enabled learning platform founded in the US during the pandemic – has announced it will buy Blackboard Collaborate, a videoconferencing software owned by Anthology.
Anthology – founded in 2020 with a merger of three educational administrative software companies with roots stretching back to the 1980s – bought Blackboard in a merger last year. Blackboard is one of the biggest global edtech brands.
Class Technologies, operators of a Zoom-enabled synchronous virtual learning platform, announced on 19 May that it has agreed a deal with Anthology to buy Blackboard Collaborate.
Blackboard Collaborate currently serves 10 million users in 1,300 institutions and 75 countries worldwide. The combined business will serve over 1,750 institutions.
The deal is reportedly worth $210 million. Class Technology founder Michael Chasen co-founded and led Blackboard between 1999 and 2012. The Blackboard software was, said Class, “a leader in the synchronous virtual classroom space with deep integration into Blackboard Learn Ultra”.
Bringing together these two products and teams allows us to deliver the next-generation virtual and hybrid learning environment – better, faster, and stronger than we could as two separate entities
– Michael Chasen, Class Technologies
Class works by adding teaching and learning tools to the Zoom platform. After the deal completes, the platform will be known in future as “Class Collaborate”.
The acquisition would allow Anthology “to focus more resources on accelerating innovation within its flagship learning management system, Blackboard Learn Ultra, and in other areas of the business”, according to a statement on behalf of the company.
Jim Milton, chairman and chief executive of Anthology, said expectations had “shifted” amid a period of “transformational change that calls for a renewed focus on pedagogical best practices”. The sale would, said Milton, allow Anthology to “build on our momentum and deep investment in Learn Ultra and expand the impact it can have across more learning environments for our clients”.
Class will maintain full support for its current and Blackboard Collaborate customers. The firm said it aimed to build “tight integration” between the two platforms to “bring the best of both”. A statement on behalf of the firm said Class has experience of “large, stable synchronous video experiences” and Blackboard has “a large global user base”. Class would employ “a number” of current Blackboard Collaborate staff.
“Covid forced millions of learners and instructors online overnight and fundamentally changed the face of education and training,” said Michael Chasen, co-founder and CEO of Class. “At Class, our vision is to change the way the world learns – both in education and the workforce. Bringing together these two products and teams allows us to deliver the next-generation virtual and hybrid learning environment – better, faster, and stronger than we could as two separate entities.”
The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.