On Friday, Blackboard closed its acquisition of rival Angel Learning, amid complaints by Angel customers.
Several college technology administrators said they were surprised and upset when Blackboard announced last Wednesday that it planned to purchase Angel Learning. The company had marketed itself as an alternative to Blackboard, a company whose aggressive tactics have upset some college officials.
Immediately after learning of the pending deal, Janet Mayer, an IT project manager for the State University of New York at Fredonia, started a Facebook group called “Free ANGEL LMS from the Bb Monopoly,” which now has more than 60 members. “Blackboard might think that they bought us, but I’m not so sure,” said Ms. Mayer, in an interview with The Chronicle. “Angel recruited a lot of us and sold us the software based on not being Blackboard.”
Sicco Rood, instructional-technology administrator for Washington State University at Spokane, posted a note to the group — and to an e-mail list for Angel customers — calling on his colleagues to contact the U.S. Department of Justice to ask them to block the deal. “Here is a direct line to the Department of Justice, department that deals with these cases,” he wrote, posting a phone number.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment.
Matthew Small, Blackboard’s chief business officer, said Blackboard’s acquisition of Angel Learning was too small a transaction to trigger an automatic review by the department. When Blackboard purchased a larger rival, WebCT, in 2005, the deal was large enough to spark a routine review by Justice Department officials before the sale officially closed, he said. “I don’t think that there’s any anti-trust concern with this combination,” said Mr. Small. —Jeffrey R. Young