Although not directly related to Blackboard's *popularity* per se, the open letter to Blackboard's CEO by Desire2Learn's CEO is just one of the things I just have to note down for further reference... http://www.desire2learn.com/Million/ I haven't tracked the thing itself, so I don't know what happened next, but that's a pretty nice letter, I would say. For the sake of information preservation, I am copy-pasting the contents of this link here, because I recently had a case of permanently loosing a link and it's just one of these upsetting situations... If this is offending anyone or anyone's rights, please let me know. I believe quoting its entirety (including the link it came from, the date and the author) should be enough to preserve the author's rights and intentions.
26 March 2009 Mr. Michael Chasen President and CEO Blackboard Inc. 650 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., 6th Floor Washington, D.C. 20001-3796Re: Proposal for EducationDear Michael, We at Desire2Learn Incorporated have a vision for a world without barriers to education. It is my hope that you share this vision. We have both built companies to meet the needs of students and educators. Our clients, educators from around the world, work with us tirelessly to put education first. There is no greater need today than for education to develop leaders, visionaries, scientists, humanitarians and entrepreneurs. Take a stand with us to further the pursuit of education for all. Our clients want us to work collaboratively with them as they strive to provide the best teaching and learning technology, especially in these uncertain and fiscally-challenging times. If you drop your recent lawsuit, both of our companies will be saved unnecessary expense and a great deal of unproductive energy. We will also help avoid needless distraction in the educational community. We are prepared to donate $1,000,000 to non-profit schools and other educational organizations if you stop the litigation before this money goes to lawyers. As we both know, the only winners in the last litigation were our law firms. Education lost. Indeed, I urge you to show your goodwill and commitment to education by having Blackboard make a donation and by ceasing senseless litigation. We do not infringe, and do not want to infringe on, your latest or any, Blackboard software patents. $1,000,000 from Desire2Learn can make a significant difference for thousands of students through the purchase of laptops, technology, supplies and other much needed educational support. Blackboard can contribute to that impact and, perhaps with matching grants, the effect can be multiplied. In fact, we commit to placing up to 50% of the $1,000,000 that we donate to schools in need within and around your head office area, Washington, D.C. Michael, please join me in this mission. It's your choice. Support education or litigation. By taking this immediate action together we can make a positive and lasting impact on education, while still respecting each other's intellectual property. I await your timely response. Sincerely, /s/ John Baker President and CEO Desire2Learn Incorporated cc: Blackboard Board of Directors (regular mail):Mr. Matthew S. Pittinsky, Chairman of the Board Mr. Joseph L. Cowan Mr. Frank Gatti Mr. Thomas Kalinske Ms. Beth Kaplan Mr. Roger Novak Mr. William Raduchel
2013 update: I found this list of know issues browsing about Blackboard: http://west.wwu.edu/atus/blackboard/status.shtml
About patents and open source Blackboard said:
Blackboard Announces Patent Pledge in Support of Open Source Software and Home-Grown Course Management Systems
WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB), a leading provider of enterprise technology to the education community, announced today a "Patent Pledge" in support of learning institutions worldwide that use or develop open source and home-grown course management software as well as the commercial entities supporting them.
In summary, the Blackboard Patent Pledge is a promise by the company to never assert its issued or pending course management system software patents against open source software or home-grown course management systems. The Blackboard Pledge is legally binding, irrevocable and worldwide in scope.