Blackboard Inc. said it is set to go public today, expecting to raise $51.1 million at $14 a share.
The seven-year-old District company, which will trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market, provides online learning software to colleges and universities. It's among the first local technology companies to test the public markets since the Internet bubble popped four years ago.
Blackboard has raised $103 million through five rounds of venture funding. Stockholders have registered to sell 1.85 million shares in addition to the company's offering of 3.65 million shares.
Bethesda-based Novak Biddle Venture Partners, for instance, owns 1.4 million shares of preferred stock in the company. Oak Hill Capital Partners, a Fort Worth fund, owns 3.4 million shares. Other investors in the company include Microsoft Corp. and the Carlyle Group of the District. Kaplan Ventures, the investment arm of Kaplan Inc., a Washington Post Co. subsidiary, is also an investor in Blackboard. Kaplan uses Blackboard software.
The company's offering, which was priced last night, is being underwritten by Credit Suisse First Boston, Banc of America Securities LLC, Merrill Lynch & Co. and Thomas Weisel Partners LLC.
Blackboard will trade under the ticker symbol BBBB. A $14 per share offering price would put the company's market capitalization at $351.4 million.
Blackboard has grown quickly since it was founded by Matthew S. Pittinsky, now 31, and Michael L. Chasen, 32, in 1997. The company has 440 employees and more than 2,000 customers. It provides technology to colleges and some public school districts, such as helping instructors put class materials on the Internet.
According to industry analysts, its major competitor is WebCT Inc. of Lynnfield, Mass.
"Between them, Blackboard and WebCT have about 80 percent of the academic course management system market in North America, and it's roughly evenly distributed," Ronald Yanosky, a higher education analyst at Gartner Inc., said earlier this year.
In 2003, the company's revenue rose to $92.5 million from $69.9 million the previous year. Its loss in 2003 narrowed to $1.4 million from $41.7 million in 2002. In the quarter ended March 31, Blackboard earned $786,000 on $25.2 million in revenue, compared with a $2 million loss on $20.2 million in revenue during the comparable 2003 quarter.
This week, InPhonic Inc., a District wireless telecom company, filed to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering, and PRA International, a McLean health care company that runs clinical trials, registered to raise up to $143.8 million in the public markets.