WebCT and Blackboard are both private companies but are both far ahead of eCollege in this marketplace as far as user base is concerned. That is not to say however that eCollege is not a good buy as this multi-billion dollar marketplace will be dynamic and chash rich for all companies that survive.WebCT: WebCT's major investors are Thomson publishing, Chase Manhattan, Meryll Lynch, Bank Boston and SCT Corp among others that are undisclosed. They are being used by some of the biggest online schools in the world such as UCLA, UGA, Berkeley, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, Yale and so on. It is also being used by Sun Microsystems and a number of other major companies/institutions outide of higher ed such as the US army, but they currently have over 2000 institutions in higher ed using them for online training which is far beyond the numbers that eCollege is seeing. They can be looked at at www.webct.com.Blackboard: Blackboards major investors are Pearson publishing, Microsoft and KPMG. As you can see, they are also a major player in this market space and have large accounts such as the University of Texas at Austin and University of Denver (eColleges back yard!). They are in head to head competition with WebCT for the locally hosted eLearning market (eCollege is centrally hosted and as a result loses about 90% of the market immediately as most institutions prefer to be self sufficient in order to maintain autonomy) Blackboard also has over a thousand institutions and is being used for coroorate and K-12 institutions as well. Blackboard has also enetered into the business of competing in the campus portal and card systems markets which may prove very lucrative as well. They can be viewed at www.blackboard.comThis market space is one that I would buy into next year as it shakes itself out and some of the big players like WebCT and Blackboard go public. I am watching it like a hawk. The eLearning market is one of the killer aps of the internet age and as a result, many large companies like Oracle, Microsoft and Sun are heavily involved in its future so bank on some big mergers and a lot of activity. Keep your eyes open and you can make a lot of money in this sector! Fools that we are... ; )
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