Wow, consolidation is running rampart in the eLearning space as everyone continues to merge or acquire. Look to your left and look to your right; easily one of those will not be around in six months. Today BlackBoard announced plans to merge with WebCT; the two leading providers in the higher education eLearning space (BlackBoard alone forecasts US$150M+ for their fiscal year).
Now having gone through a "merger" myself (SkillSoft and SmartForce) it sounds like BlackBoard is really acquiring WebCT and it doesn't bode well for WebCT given that there is a tremendous amount of product overlap between the two companies (a similar comparision would be if SkillSoft and NETg, the leading providers in the corporate education space, merged). It also doesn't bode well for WebCT's willingness to play with open source (sorry Harold!) If you are a WebCT employee you may want to dust off your resume with comments like this:
The combined company expects to realize significant efficiencies by leveraging shared development infrastructure, and mitigating duplicative marketing initiatives and administrative expenditures.
This announcement comes on the heels of Saba acquiring Centra. Now this deal makes more sense as Saba continues evolve beyond its Learning Management Software (LMS) roots (Saba recently bought THINQ) by rounding out its services offering. Personally I like its focus on 'on-demand learning' and its Services Oriented Architecture as I think generic content is a tough business to be in. Plus Saba + Centra creates a US$100M revenue company which is not too shabby!
And of course back in August we had WebEx buying Intranets.com and SumTotal (created out of Docent + Click2Learn) buying PathLore as I discussed in this post.
Clark - you need to update your Chart of Consolidations!
The Resulting Big Five: (forecasted annual revenue)
* strangely none of the investors like any of these deals as the stocks of the related companies have all dropped when they have announced their news.
So whom do you think will be doing a merger or acquisition next?
What do you think of these recent ones?