There's a rumor going around the Internet playground that Google
Why not? With Yahoo!
1. Product relevance
Blackboard's robust suite of interactive products and services for the educational market offers various types of communication and collaboration solutions. This technology is exactly in line with many of Google's current and proposed projects. The search giant has dabbled in educational products (including its Back-to-School Guides and educational apps), and Blackboard's customers and end users certainly would provide access to a key Google demographic. In that light, it's easy to see why Google might come a-courtin'.
2. Market leadership
Blackboard has been making its own smart acquisitions over the past several years, gobbling up competitors while expanding its innovative software and service offerings. It now leads the entire educational market, including universities, corporations, and associations. If Google were to acquire Blackboard, it would absorb a massive customer base, allowing Big Goo to pretty much own the space in one quick transaction. What's more, Microsoft has shown some interest in course-management systems -- its SharePoint has this capability. Teaming up with Blackboard would put Google in an excellent competitive position against its Redmond rival.
3. Solid financials
Blackboard has been growing at an impressive clip over the last several years, substantially increasing annual revenues and more than doubling software licenses in five years. What's more, Blackboard has weathered the recent market downturn (and subsequent decrease in educational spending) quite well, even acquiring key competitor ANGEL Learning in May 2009. Google would be picking up a profitable business with modest debt and strong growth potential. What's not to love?
Someone has to make a move
Blackboard is clearly a leader in its space, and it doesn't have any obvious bloopers on its balance sheet. However, it's a bit pricey at the moment (not that Google couldn't afford it). And though it's remained profitable, Blackboard's return on equity has been inconsistent. That said, if Google is interested in getting into the education space, it couldn't do much better than Blackboard.
Of course, this is all still speculation – no love notes or chocolate candies have been handed out yet. Given Blackboard's strong growth, passionate leadership, and continuing innovation (no excuses for missing homework when the assignment was sent to your iPhone), the company may very well have no interest in being acquired. If it did, I'm sure it could send out some signals of their own. After all, Google is one handsome suitor. We'll keep our feet in the sandbox and let you know what we hear.
Tanya Carlson owns shares of Blackboard. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google is a Rule Breakers pick. Blackboard is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. The Fool's disclosure policy that loves playing on the monkey bars.
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