I guess it was inevitable. As much negative press as Blackboard garnered over recent legal actions (in addition to the negative experiences some of their customers are always complaining about), they had to do something abut it. I can see the board meeting now:
“We’re taking a beating over this lawsuit. What can we do to improve our image?”
“We need to do something that people like. And, Bob – no more stealing Start Trek jargon to name our new software versions, okay?”
“sighhh….. but NG sounded so futuristic and cool!”
“Maybe in the 90s! But focus – we need to do something good for our image.”
“I heard the other day that people like angels. Maybe that should be the new name for our next software version.”
“I like it! People want to make us out to be devils, let’s force them into calling us angels!”
“Oh, wait… I think we have a competitor named that already.”
“Even better! We can just buy them and get their image without doing any work! Just like we did with WebCT!”
I was really shocked when Katrina told me the news. Yes, she is still active in the Ed Tech world – even though we rarely hear from her here. She did recruit Shaun after all… so she is helping in some ways :)
But I just can’t see the logic behind this purchase, even from a twisted business CEO pointy-haired boss perspective. From what I have read, a huge chunk of the people using Angel chose Angel because they were fed up with Blackboard. Why do you want to acquire such a huge population of users that have proven that they will change software when disgruntled… and they were with the company you bought because they hated yours in the first place? Not to mention the fact that Blackboard is saying that eventually the two products will merge. How? They are so vastly different. That just doesn’t seem possible.
And let’s not forget how bad they botched the WebCT purchase. Oh, wait… they are saying they learned a lot from that and will do better. But… wait… WebCT wasn’t their first purchase. Prometheus anyone? If they didn’t learn enough from that one to help with WebCT, don’t count on them having learned enough from WebCT to make the Angel acquisition any less painful.
I just can’t help but thinking of Dilbert whenever I read anything from Michael Chasen of Blackboard. I love how he pointed out that there is more competition now in the LMS market than there ever was… because new ones are starting every year. Yep, there is a greater number of competitors, so that means greater competition, right? Nope – that means nothing for competition when those new options are just competing for the same small slice of customers that won’t go with the bigger options. Percentage-wise, this purchase essential creates a monopoly. One can only hope this will not be approved by the FTC. But, then again, they should have never approved of the WebCT purchase. So I’m not holding my breath on that.
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.