Update: Please see new post with updated information.
Update: I heard back from the company that part of the discrepancy in numbers is that public statements about employee count may have changed in whether they included the call center employees (which vary seasonally). If I can get some hard numbers from Blackboard, I will publish a new post with more accurate information. For now, please note that the 26% number may be based on inconsistent definitions. Accordingly, I have changed the post title and am bumping this post.
The Washington Post ran a piece over the weekend about Blackboard’s reorganization efforts since Jay Bhatt took over as CEO.
Blackboard has upended its corporate structure and strategy behind closed doors since chief executive Jay Bhatt took over the private company a year ago with a mandate to reinvigorate one of the District’s oldest and most recognized technology brands.
The changes come after years of eroding market share for Blackboard, a pioneer in online learning management software. Bhatt said the changes made in the past year provide a foundation on which to grow the business.
Michael and I have both noted some of the layoffs that have taken place as well as the reorganization and removal of silos. Alert former employee George Kroner, however, noted on Twitter just how significant the layoffs have been. This nugget from the WaPo story is the key:
Blackboard today is completely reorganized, compared with a year ago, a process that required layoffs in some departments and new hires in others, Bhatt said. The company counts roughly 2,200 employees to date.
Compare this to the first story on company layoffs from September 2012, from Bill Flook at the Washington Business Journal. Note that Michael Chasen was still CEO at this point, as Jay Bhatt took over at the end of December 2012.
In a statement, Blackboard spokesman Matthew Maurer said the company has “seen strong growth this year in terms of revenue and in the acquisition of new businesses that have opened up new markets for us.” The company’s total workforce now stands at 3,000 globally, “even with the recent elimination of a small number of roles,” he said.
That is a significant change, if these stories are accurate, going from 3,000 employees to 2,200 in less than 18 months – a reduction of more than 26% of the workforce [see update above].
I’m sure that not all of these losses have come from layoffs, as a fairly significant number of employees have likely left of their own volition. This is fairly typical within companies making such significant changes, however.
For now, it’s worth noting that there are big changes happening at the two biggest commercial LMS providers (Desire2Learn recently laid off 7% of its workforce).