Class Technologies Inc., which adds teaching and learning tools to Zoom, has recently announced that it has reached a definitive agreement with Anthology, a provider of education solutions that support the entire learner lifecycle, to acquire its Blackboard Collaborate virtual classroom tool.
While the company did not disclose the financial details, the deal is reportedly closed for $210 million.
Anthology’s Blackboard Collaborate is a leader in the synchronous virtual classroom space with deep integration into Blackboard Learn Ultra. It currently serves over 10 million users across more than 1,300 institutions in over 75 countries worldwide. Class brings the classroom online by adding teaching and learning tools to the Zoom platform. Class said the combined business will serve over 1,750 institutions representing higher education, K-12, and corporate learning & development teams around the world.
Commenting on the development, Michael Chasen, Co-founder & CEO of Class, said,
"COVID forced millions of learners and instructors online overnight and fundamentally changed the face of education and training. 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."
According to a press statement, the acquisition will 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 where the company is uniquely positioned to support global education community.
Jim Milton, Chairman and Chief Executive of Anthology, said,
"Learner expectations have shifted and education is experiencing transformational change that calls for a renewed focus on pedagogical best practices. This strategic partnership enables us 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, ultimately driving learner and institutional success. It also will provide us the opportunity to partner more broadly with other synchronous providers in the EdTech ecosystem."
Class said it will continue full support for its current and Blackboard Collaborate customers. It added the companies will also partner to build a tight integration between the two platforms to bring the best of both to promote student success.
Class raised a combination of equity and debt from new and existing investors to finance the acquisition, including SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Insight Partners, Salesforce Ventures, Owl Ventures, and Emergence Capital among several others.
The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022. After closing, Blackboard Collaborate will be known as Class Collaborate. Class said a number of employees from Anthology who currently support Blackboard Collaborate will join the company. Until then, it said, both businesses will continue to operate as usual and as separate entities.