This is a story about companies buying each other. Class is software that sits on top of Zoom and tries to position itself as a perfect and necessary add on for online teaching. Some of what it does is just visually managing the zoom windows, but a lot of it is much more in line with what an Online Program Manager does (we discussed OPM’s in our article from last week). Class is a new and extremely well funded EdTech startup who managed to raise $164 million since the start of the pandemic.

Blackboard Collaborate is the video conferencing part of the OPM Blackboard, which functions in a pretty similar way to Zoom, but designed to work especially with the Blackboard program. You can see in the link above that it visually looks quite a bit like the zoom interface, with a slightly cleaned up design. Class currently only builds on top of Zoom, but plans to make the same services available on top of Blackboard Collaborate, and it seems like this acquisition gives them a standalone video conferencing product that they didn’t have to develop from the ground up.

Though there are no official numbers released, an investor told techcrunch that the purchase price was $210 million, and that there was a financing round held “solely to fund this deal”. This looks like Class is aware of the dangers of staking your entire company’s future on a platform that you have no control over (like Spotify’s frustrations with Apple) and the acquisition gives them an alternative to hand to customers, especially those looking for more integration into the video conferencing system. Of course it could go the other way too, the acquisition could be a pathway to ensure that a large customer base flows through Class and into zoom, bypassing WebX or Microsoft Teams, as EdSurge speculated.

However that plays out, it is an interesting outcome in the embattled EdTech startup space.

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