Higher Education - Higher Stocks?

Wednesday, 16 May 2007 | 1:12 PM ET

Forget the ivy halls of learning, these days college students are just as likely to find themselves in a virtual classroom. It’s not uncommon to take tests, watch videos, or engage in discussions completely over the internet. Now here’s a pop-quiz for you; which company is already positioned to profit from this phenomenon?

At the forefront of this shift is a company called Blackboard (BBBB). Since they went public in 2004, shares have nearly doubled.

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A breakdown of higher education, with Blackboard Inc. CEO, Michael Chasen

Michael Chasen co-founded Blackboard ten years ago, when he was only 25 years old. Today he is Blackboard’s Chief Executive and he joins the guys for this conversation.

Chasen says colleges and universities are using BBBB technology to put their courses online. He explains students still go to class, but you get your course syllabus online, or tests are given on line and his company powers that.

“What do you actually provide?” asks Dylan.

We provide clients with the enterprise software, replies Chasen. Most schools download it and run it on their own servers. Blackboard also hosts it for some schools.

“What sets Blackboard apart from Google (GOOG) who might get into this business?”

We focus on education, Chasen says.

“And what percentage of universities are going online?”

3,400 institutions use Blackboard around the globe, Chasen replies. 2,000 in the U.S. He adds every institution will need a company like Blackboard in the future.

Tim Strazzini asks if Blackboard might be a take-over candidate.

We have a strong financial position and great partnerships and Blackboard plans to keep its position as leader, answers Chasen.

Also on Fast Money, Chasen reveals the state of Mississippi signed a $9.5 million dollar deal to provide Blackboard services to all 15 of its community colleges, estimated to be 65,000 students. It’s the largest deal in the company’s history.

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Trader disclosure: On May 15, 2007, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Macke Owns (SWY), (JWN);Strazzini Owns (WMT) (NWS-A), (SNDK), Strazzini Is Short (MU); Bolling Owns (DIS), Gold, Silver, Coffee, Sugar; Bolling Is Short S&P Futures; Bolling Is Short Nasdaq Futures NBC Universal Is The Parent Company Of CNBC

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