National Harbor, Md. — This week Blackboard got into the iPhone-application business, purchasing a company that designs phone-friendly software for colleges.
At Blackboard’s annual user conference just outside Washington, officials announced they had acquired Terriblyclever Design LLC, which has built iPhone applications for a handful of colleges and high schools. The company, whose product is called MobilEdu, was started by two Stanford University students just last year.
Blackboard paid about $4-million for the company, said Matthew Small, the company’s chief business officer.
That means the founders, Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein, who have been friends since they were in kindergarten, are now millionaires and leaders of a new division of Blackboard that will develop services for mobile phones, including the MobilEdu product.
“We could not be more proud and happy,” said Mr. Beykpour, in an interview. “There’s only so much you can do with five of your buddies. We see this as an opportunity to make a change in education.”
What led Blackboard to invest so much in such a young company?
“Every single school is going to have an iPhone application,” said Mr. Small, in an interview. “For Blackboard, the question is, How do we bring teaching and learning to where students are, which is on mobile devices?”
“If you’re going to hire top iPhone development experts,” he added, “they’re going to be students.” —Jeffrey R. Young