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Blackboard to Sell Its Transact Business Unit

Blackboard has announced the execution of a definitive agreement to sell its Transact business unit to private equity firm Reverence Capital Partners. Transact's portfolio of campus engagement and payments solutions includes campus access, mobile credentials, stored value and point-of-sale solutions, security management, attendance automation, events authorization, electronic tuition payments and bookstore management.

The transaction will enable Blackboard to focus on its core teaching and learning products, according to the company. "As a market-leading, cloud-based education technology company, we are continuously examining all aspects of our portfolio and looking for ways to provide maximum value to our global client base and shareholders," said Blackboard Chairman, CEO and President Bill Ballhaus, in a statement. "This strategic move allows for the continued simplification of our business. Most importantly, it allows us to accelerate innovation in our teaching and learning platform, delivering unique value to our clients to drive learner engagement, improve academic effectiveness, and provide education insights."

Ballhaus elaborated in a company blog post: "Because of our focus over the past few years on investing in our products, improving performance and meeting our clients' expectations, we are now at a turning point. As we move toward a pure SaaS business model, we are greatly simplifying our business, allowing us to increase capacity for innovation and accelerate bringing new capabilities to market. We are now in a position to invest in our business to drive innovation in a way that no one else in the market can. That investment will go towards continuing to evolve our teaching and learning EdTech platform.

"While the LMS enabled the last wave of innovation, the needs of learners, academics, and institutions have evolved — and our clients are demanding more — specifically, a more engaging and personalized experience, new capabilities to drive better academic outcomes, and critical insights to enable improved institutional performance.

"For us at Blackboard, this means a shift from a product mindset where we think about building individual products like a Learning Management System to a cloud-based platform approach, where we bring together a wide range of educational capabilities, and make them available across multiple modalities, from a web browser, to mobile devices, to APIs called by a marketplace of third-party tool providers and developers. Our platform architecture also includes a comprehensive data and analytics capability through Blackboard Data, serving as the foundation for deriving data-driven insights to help achieve better outcomes."

Transact will continue as a stand-alone company led by David Marr as CEO. The sale is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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