Last week, we shared part one of our conversation with Michael Chasen, who will be a Keynote speaker at the 21st Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference, Technology Showcase and DealSource.
Mr. Chasen co-founded Blackboard Inc., an e-learning software company used by 20 million students and faculty at over 20,000 institutions in more than 70 countries. The company was sold in 2011 to Providence Equity Partners for an impressive $1.7 billion.
In 2013, Michael founded SocialRadar, and he currently serves as the company CEO. In part two of our conversation, Mr. Chasen describes the acquisition process, from identifying a buyer to possible challenges. He also gives readers insight into what makes SocialRadar such a promising company, and teases what you can expect to hear at the conference.
Here is what he had to say:
CGCS: Can you tell our readers about the process of identifying a buyer for the company and getting the valuation you wanted?
Michael Chasen: We were a public company and were trading at just over a billion dollars when two private equity firms had approached us about buying the company and offered a substantial premium. The board decided to research that as an option and set up a formal process. A number of parties came to the table and Providence Equity Partners ended up being the highest bidder for the company.
CGCS: Did the acquisition create any challenges or issues? If so, how did you overcome them?
Michael Chasen: Any time there’s a large transaction – in this case an entire company changing hands – you end up facing challenges of working with new people, and the company had reached a certain size, so we were now a more mature organization and adjusting to that. They actually came in at an ideal time because they had experience with large companies and mature markets and were able to help us maximize our profitability and expand internationally.
CGCS: Can you tell our readers about your new company, SocialRadar? Why is the market right for an application like SocialRadar today?
Michael Chasen: One of the great things of being the CEO of Blackboard was that I got to work with a lot of millennials at college campuses. I would see trends often and early; we saw Facebook gather traction at Harvard and spread to other colleges, we saw less college students showing up to their dorm room with TVs and just watching videos on their computers. Similarly in my last year at Blackboard, I saw the potential of location services to do more than help people stay connected and find each other. I knew that location services were going to be a core part of the technology that everyone would use on their smartphone.
So we decided to make an app that gave you real-time information on where your friends were and provide info on other people around you. Since then, it has expanded; we began developing SDK, which other developers can put in their apps. So we have become experts in location technology at a particularly opportune time, since half of the apps on the market use location services in some way, and we’ve built out a whole set of tools for developers to be better able to utilize this technology.
CGCS: Where do you see location technology and SocialRadar going in the future?
Michael Chasen: I think the smartphone is going to be about giving you relevant information based on where you are at that particular moment and location technology will be critical to that end. SocialRadar can play a big role in that.
CGCS: You’ve had a very storied and successful career across a wide range of industries. You’ve started, run, sold and sat on the board for many companies. There are many things you could share with the ACG membership and guests in attendance at the Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference. What do you plan on speaking about, and what can listeners expect from your address?
Michael Chasen: Starting a company with a college friend and growing it into an organization of 3,000 employees, tens of thousands institutions, and hundreds of millions of students and worldwide is perhaps obviously a learning-intensive journey. What was always most interesting to me has been the unconventional wisdom that I picked up along the way.
I’ll be sharing the top five pieces of unconventional wisdom I learned while a growing a $2 billion dollar public company, and hopefully save the membership the trouble of starting their own billion-dollar company to learn those same things.
Check back next week for additional 21st Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference, Technology Showcase and DealSource content. To attend Mr. Chasen’s keynote presentation and to register for the conference, click HERE