Blackboard's Top Marks

Online education company Blackboard Inc. of Washington has snared a whopping $12.2 million of venture capital money.

Blackboard's investors include Carlyle Venture Partners of Washington, Novak-Biddle Venture Partners of Reston and Merrill Lynch Kecalp 1999 of New York. Individual investors in the group include Frank Bonsal, co-founder of New Enterprise Associates of Baltimore.

This second round is a large jump from Blackboard's first venture infusion, $3.1 million at the end of 1998.

Blackboard, which makes software that helps schools teach on the World Wide Web, has more than 200 college and university customers, which include Cornell University and Georgetown University.

In November 1998, Blackboard co-founder and chairman Matthew Pittinsky turned over the chief executive title to Louis Pugliese, who had been a vice president of Turner Educational Services in Atlanta.

Pain by E-Mail

Conveying bad news by e-mail is more accurate and less painful than phoning or giving it face to face. That's the basic finding of a study published by the Linthicum-based Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

Organizations suffer from the "the mum effect," says an article in the institute's journal Information Systems Research. Because bad news is unpleasant not only for the recipient but the messenger, people often delay conveying the news or distort it. But getting the bad news out can be a plus for an organization.

Delivering unwelcome news electronically goes against convention, by which face-to-face delivery is a signal that the messenger cares, the authors say, but they predict that may change.

Use of e-mail may also make subordinates more willing to give bad news -- and give it straight -- to their superiors.