Blackboard, Inc., Acquires NetSpot, Moodlerooms: Sell A Business

Blackboard acquires Adelaide-based eLearning company NetSpot

By Michelle Hammond
Tuesday, 27 March 2012

US-based enterprise software company Blackboard Inc. has acquired Adelaide company NetSpot for an undisclosed sum, but NetSpot will continue to operate independently.


NetSpot provides eLearning technology services to education organisations, and is an official Moodle partner.


Moodle is an open source learning management system, used as an enterprise-level application by higher education institutions, including more than a third of Australian universities.


In July last year, NetSpot unveiled a $200,000 fund at Australia’s annual Moodle conference, designed to support eLearning innovations in the higher education sector.


Now NetSpot has been acquired by Blackboard Inc., a Washington-based company primarily known as a developer of education software, in particular learning management systems.


Blackboard was founded by chief executive Michael Chasen and chairman Matthew Pittinsky in 1997, and became a public company in 2004.


In addition to NetSpot, Blackboard has acquired Baltimore-based company Moodlerooms, which is also an official Moodle partner.


Moodlerooms primarily serves clients in North America, while NetSpot serves a client base in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific.


There will no changes to both companies’ leadership, support and service models.


However, each team will become part of Blackboard’s new Education Open Source Services group, which aims to support the use and development of open source learning technologies.


NetSpot is also an authorised reseller and service provider for Blackboard Collaborate. Managing director Allan Christie says the development is “extremely exciting”.


“Together, we will help to advance the Moodle project, which will lead to stronger options for clients,” Christie says.


“Our company has delivered on a model that blends the advantages of open source with high quality service and support.”


“We expect that by working as a combined team, this investment will be good for NetSpot clients and great for Moodle.”


Ray Henderson, Blackboard chief technology officer and president of academic platforms, said NetSpot and Moodlerooms have built strong reputations for high quality service and support.


“[This] aligns with our deep focus in these areas and our overall commitment to providing LMS services and hosting globally,” Henderson said in a statement.


“This direction allows us to provide the choice of an open source alternative, with the benefit of a team of leaders from the open source community to guide our sustained contributions.”


Martin Dougiamas, Moodle founder and managing director of Moodle Pty Ltd, said the decision by NetSpot and Moodlerooms to work under Blackboard “may sound very strange at first”.


“But it’s my understanding that these three companies have some good plans and synergies. Moodlerooms and NetSpot will remain Moodle Partners,” Dougiamas said in a statement.


“[Both companies] have promised to continue providing Moodle services, participating in the community, and contributing financially to Moodle exactly as they always have.”


All three companies have signed a Statement of Principles affirming that their work will continue to include regular contributions to the open source community in the form of code contributions.


They will also provide financial support to the Moodle Trust, and offer support for community gatherings, including Moodlemoots.

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