Blackboard Inc., the ed-tech company best known for its learning management system software, has announced the sale of its shares to private investment group Providence Equity Partners for $1.64 billion.
The investment group will also assume $130 million in debt, according to a press release.
The sale makes Blackboard the latest (and perhaps most notable) in a string of education technology companies to be sold. It's a trend that Karen Billings, vice president of the Software and Information Industry Association's education division, said has been building for about the past year, in a discussion with EdWeek during this week's annual ISTE conference in Philadelphia.
Those transactions include, but certainly aren't limited to, last fall's sale of Wireless Generation to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., and Pearson's spring acquisition of SchoolNet. There was some speculation that News Corp. might also purchase Blackboard, but Joel Klein, leader of News Corp.'s education division, refuted that in a recent Financial Times story.
Blackboard's work in K-12 education is just one prong of its business. The company is perhaps best known for its work with postsecondary institutions, but also makes software for trade schools, corporations, governments, associations, and even the military.
Its sale concludes a process of more than three months, according to the release, one that began when the company formed a committee of outside, independent directors to review its strategic options.