The big news of the past two days has been Blackboard’s announcement that they have received an offer to be acquired. A lot of the chatter is based on speculation on who the potential acquiring company is. At this stage, all the chatter is just that – speculation. Well-educated, perhaps, but speculation.
What I haven’t seen discussed is how this announcement could change the LMS market. I’ll first explore the potential impact on Blackboard’s near-term customers.
In one dramatic shift, Blackboard has gone from the known to the unknown. For years, one of Blackboard’s greatest sales strength was the message that it was here to stay. Unlike that pesky Desire2Learn, who might succumb to lawyer’s bills and the patent fight, Blackboard was a solid investment with the corporate muscle to be here for the long haul. Unlike those pesky open source providers, who might disappear or stop developing, Blackboard presented “one throat to choke” and was reliable. Now, can anyone reliably guess what’s going to happen to Blackboard, who will provide services, whether the roadmap will completely change?
This sales advantage is now gone.
In the long term, if Blackboard is acquired, then there may be a better company and set of software and services. I’m sure the potential acquirer is banking on this projection. But, in the short term, there are now a lot of unknowns about Blackboard’s future which their competitors are likely to exploit. Even if the deal falls through, I think the market’s perception of Blackboard just changed in a dramatic way.