Market Dynamics

LMS Market is dominated by Blackboard and open source providers such as Moodle, and Sakai.  There are other proprietary providers such as Desire2Learn.

Bb is 1.58 billion enterprise. till recently it was a public company but has now been acquired by a private equity firm.

It has grown pseudo-organically and through acquisitions.

Bb’s 10K indicates that it acquired company called CourseInfo in 1990s which gave it the initial functionality for delivering online courses.

It has developed proprietary tools such as Bb Learn, Collaborate, Connect etc.

In parallel, it has acquired firms such as  Angel, Collaborate, Edline, and open source providers such as Moodlerooms and NetSpot.

The proprietary tools serve the upper-end market segment.  This is the cash cow for Bb and comes with a high margin.

Open Source acquisitions provide it the access to low-end of the market segment which has a lower margin.

The acquisition strategy reminds me of Oracle.  Based on its subsequent financial results, Oracle seems to have been largely successful in integrating diverse product lines Siebel, PeopleSoft, Retek etc.

There are differences

  • Bb has decided to appease customers of the acquired products and has reversed its decision to sunset Angel and promised to do the same with its open source acquisitions,
  • Bb has more aggressively moved into open source than Oracle

Will Bb be as successful as Oracle or will it be strecthed too thin trying to support multiple products that come with significantly different customer base concurrently?

The other question: Does acquisition of Moodleroom present new opportunities to other Moodle service providers?  Or will proposed integration of proprietary Bb products with Moodlerooms make it Moodlerooms far more attractive to customers?


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