Two Equity Firms Buy Blackboard to Merge It with Anthology, a Company They Already Own

IBL News | New York

The private equity firms that currently own Anthology, Veritas Capital, and Leeds Equity Partners, will acquire the majority of shares of Blackboard Inc. from Providence Equity Partners LLC investment company for an undisclosed amount.

With that equity stock, Veritas Capital and Leeds Equity Partners will create a merged company, which will be lead by Jim Milton, current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Anthology.

The combined company (as yet unnamed), valued at about $3 billion dollars including debt, will be majority-owned by Veritas Capital.

Providence Equity Partners — which bought Blackboard in 2011 for $1.64 billion — will hold a minority stake in the combined company. The transaction is expected to be closed by the end of 2021, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

“Once the deal closes, Blackboard will no longer exist as a standalone EdTech company,” wrote expert Phil Hill on its blog.

The merge of Anthology and Blackboard will result in one of the industry’s largest LMS management firms, with a workforce of 4,000 employees and over 4,000 colleges and universities as clients.

Anthology — which is the recent gathering of Campus Management, Campus Labs, and iModules — accounts for 2,000 higher ed institutions in 30 countries.

Blackboard claims it currently serves 150 million users in 80 countries.  For years, Blackboard was the dominant provider of learning management systems (LMSs) until Canvas LMS surpassed it.

“Upon the completion of this merger, we will have a data-driven product portfolio that seeks to touch every constituent at the institution and will aim to transform the way education uses technology to engage, connect, teach, learn and drive efficiencies across the institution,” Milton said. “We are fully aligned around a deep focus on learner success.”

“Together, Blackboard and Anthology will lead the next wave of EdTech innovation,” said Bill Ballhaus, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President of Blackboard.

According to Bloomberg, the resulting company will be valued at several billion dollars. A Bloomberg reporter was told that Blackboard was valued at $2 billion and Anthology at $1 billion.