Michael Chasen

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Michael Chasen
Michael Chasen
Nationality American
Alma mater American University, Georgetown University
Occupation CEO of SocialRadar
Known for Co-founder of Blackboard Inc. along with Matthew Pittinsky, Stephen Gilfus, Daniel Cane

Michael Chasen is an American businessman and entrepreneur. He is a co-founder and former CEO of Blackboard Inc., a position he held from 1999 to 2012. In April 2013, Chasen co-founded SocialRadar, a technology startup company developing a location-based social app.

Early life[edit]

Michael Chasen grew up in Cheshire, Connecticut.[1][2] He developed an interest in computers at age 10,[1] and he began writing programs on his father’s Radio Shack TRS Model III.[1][2] He later used his skills to offer local businesses computer consulting while still in school.[2][3] Also during high school, he was an active member of BBYO (B'nai B'rith Youth Organization).[4]

Chasen attended American University and completed a degree in computer science in three years, graduating in 1993.[5][6] While at American, Chasen worked part-time doing technology work for the FBI.[2] He met future Blackboard co-founder Matthew Pittinsky in the American University dorms when Pittinsky wanted to borrow Chasen’s laser printer.[1][7]

Following his undergraduate degree, Chasen earned an MBA with a focus in accounting from Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business in 1995.[1][8]


Early career[edit]

While still at Georgetown, Chasen was inspired by the application process to multiple undergraduate and MBA programs to start Search and Apply Group, a company that offered a computer application allowing colleges to accept online applications.[5] After hearing about Search and Apply Group, Greg Baroni, who was Matthew Pittinsky’s manager at KPMG Peat Marwick (now KPMG Consulting), offered Chasen a job.[1][5] In 1996, Chasen left law school after completing one year to join KPMG as a consultant in the Higher Education Group.[1][9]

During their time at KPMG, Chasen and Pittinsky observed that colleges were investing in connecting classrooms and dormitories to the Internet, but there was a gap in the adoption of software to aid learning.[9]

Chasen and Pittinsky left KPMG in 1997 to launch their e-learning business.[10] In an oft-cited anecdote, Baroni allowed them to borrow their computers while they got themselves set-up, a situation that Chasen and Pittinsky used to then steal their office chairs.[2][11]


Chasen and Pittinsky founded Blackboard LLC, a consulting company developing IMS (Instructional Management System) standards for elearning based on a contract from EDUCOM and the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative, in 1997.[12][13][14] To gain investors and publicize his new company, Chasen networked in the business community by attending events, meeting with investors and entering business plan competitions.[11][15] The effort resulted in the company’s first, angel investor, contingent on its merger with CourseInfo., Ching-Ho Fung,[7][16] and a consulting contract with IMS Global.[7]

In 1998, the company, Blackboard LLC., merged with CourseInfo LLC, a cutting edge software provider founded by Daniel Cane and Stephen Gilfus that originated at Cornell University, Gilfus wrote the business plan, introducing annualized license pricing for the first time, while an undergraduate at Cornell after, founding CEO the Cornell Entrepreneur Organization. CourseInfo had developed an innovative new platform for internet and networked learning, a "Course Management System" platform they called it, and had already sold 15 clients including: Cornell University, Yale Medical School, University of Pittsburgh, UCLA and several others. ("It's a Web course-management tool," explains Stephen Gilfus, CourseInfo's founder and vice president for sales and marketing. "The entire structure is set up to provide areas where you can input your own information. It supports all file types, including multimedia.") [17] In 1998, Gilfus and Cane decided too merge CourseInfo with Chasen and Pittinky's Blackboard LLC. company in order to raise money and scale the business.

The combined company became known as Blackboard Inc. Immediately the new Blackboard Inc. company announced that "the CourseInfo product will be among the first to implement emerging industry standards" [18] They released their first platform product, Blackboard CourseInfo, later that year.[1][14][18] Combining Blackboard LLC's knowledge of online learning standards and CourseInfo's experience in education developing online elearning applications, the two companies combined developed software products to support course instruction.[5][9]

In its first round of financing from angel investors, Chasen and team raised about $500,000.[15] Later Chasen and team led five rounds of investing between August 1998 and April 2001, raising a total of $103 million for Blackboard.[10][19][20] Investors in the company included Novak Biddle, followed by ICG Group, Aurora Funds, Carlyle Ventures, Edison Ventures, and Merrill Lynch.[7][20] Strategic partners included AOL, Dell, Microsoft, Pearson and Kaplan.[6][7]

Although financial institutions encouraged Blackboard to change its revenue model from annual subscription to an advertising-based one, the Blackboard board and management team refused to stop charging for Blackboard’s products.[14][15][19] This decision has been credited in media coverage as being one of the main reasons Blackboard outlasted the dot-com boom of the late 1990s.[15][19]

Chasen became chief executive officer (CEO) of Blackboard in 1999,[19] and became one of the youngest CEOs of a publicly traded company[7][21] when he orchestrated Blackboard’s initial public offering in 2004.[12][22] On June 18 of that year, Blackboard’s shares opened at $14 and closed at $20, making it the second most successful technology IPO of 2004.[7][14]

As CEO, Chasen and the management team led Blackboard through over 20 successful mergers and acquisitions.[23] In 2006, Chasen oversaw Blackboard’s purchase of WebCT, earning the company an estimated 70-75% share of the education software market.[2][7][19] Other notable additions included ANGEL Learning in 2009;[24] Elluminate Inc. and Wimba Inc. in 2010, forming Blackboard Collaborate;[10] Edline, a K-12 software company, in 2011.[12][23][25] In 2011, Chasen led the expansion of Blackboard into open-source software through the acquisition of open-source competitors Moodlerooms Inc. and NetSpot Pty. Ltd.[23][25][26]

Chasen guided the sale of Blackboard to Providence Equity Partners for $1.64 billion in 2011.[12][13][25]

Under his leadership, an the original Blackboard Management Team, Blackboard grew to more than 3,000 employees with 20,000 clients in over 65 countries, and earning $600 million in revenue in 2012.[2][11][23] In December 2012, Chasen announced he would be stepping down as the CEO of Blackboard.[11][25][27] Jay Bhatt was named as his successor.[23][27]


On April 29, 2013, Chasen announced via Twitter and LinkedIn that his next venture would be SocialRadar, a D.C. based mobile startup focused on building a social location app for smartphones and Google Glass.[28][29][30] He is the CEO of the new company.[29][31]

In June 2013, it was reported that Chasen had secured $12.75 million in a first round of investments from New Enterprise Associates, Steve Case, Ted Leonsis, and Dave Morin among others.[30][32][33] SocialRadar’s app is planned to enter beta testing in July 2013 according to Tech Cocktail[33] and will initially be developed for iPhone, followed by Android and Glass.[29][30][32]

On January 30, 2014, SocialRadar was released to the Apple AppStore.[34]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Chasen was included in Forbes list of “America's 15 Most Powerful CEOs 40 And Under”[3] and Washington SmartCEO named Chasen as its first CEO of the Year in 2006.[7] Other recognition received by Chasen includes being named Ernst & Young's "Entrepreneur of the Year for Emerging Companies in Washington, D.C."[35] and being honored as a "Young Innovator" by the Kilby Foundation.[36] Chasen was listed by Washington Techway Magazine as one of D.C.'s "most-admired bosses" and was featured in Washington Business Forward's list of the Washington, D.C. area's "rising stars".[8]


Chasen is an active angel investor. His portfolio includes Parchment, EverFi, SubjectMatter, and Popexpert.[37][38] After announcing his departure from Blackboard, it was reported that Chasen would be pursuing additional investment opportunities.[11][37]

Personal life[edit]

Chasen lives in Bethesda, Maryland with his wife Randi and three children.[2][11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Hope Katz Gibbs. "Blackboard Rules: Advice from Two of the Smartest Kids in the Class". Beinkandescent. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Steven Pearlstein (18 November 2012). "Blackboard’s Departing Founder, An opportunist who made his own luck". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Helen Coster (2 December 2010). "America’s 15 Most Powerful CEOs Are Under 40". Forbes. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Nate Homan (28 February 2013). "Michael Chasen's new thing: SocialRadar". Brookline Patch. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d Anne Kelleher (1 July 2011). "Blackboard Founders’ Roots at American University". American Today. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Patricia Huan (7 July 2006). "America's youngest CEOs". Forbes. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Timothy Burn (May 2006). "Agent of Change: Blackboard CEO Michael Chasen erases the old way of learning" (PDF). SmartCEO. Retrieved 30 May 2013. [permanent dead link]
  8. ^ a b "Alumni Spotlight". georgetown.edu. Georgetown University. 26 October 2012. Archived from the original on 13 November 2015. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c Katy Finneran (20 January 2010). "In Pictures: The Greatest Risk They Ever Took". Forbes. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c Hope Katz Gibbs (September 2010). "Education + Technology = Michael Chasen's Blackboard.com". Beinkandescent. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Tong Zhang (15 November 2012). "Michael Chasen calls D.C. a top tech city". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d Leigh Buchanan (30 August 2012). "Private Again and On the Move". Inc. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Michael J. De La Merced (1 July 2011). "Providence to Buy Blackboard for $1.64 Billion". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c d William C. Taylor (16 July 2006). "Business Revolutionaries Learn Diplomacy’s Value". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c d Sara Wilson (13 February 2009). "Build a Billion-Dollar Business". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  16. ^ Thomas Heath (27 May 2012). "Capital Buzz: Parature’s former chief executive reprises role". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  17. ^ Michelle Nagler (October 16, 1997). "Senior's company helps to produce Web pages for college courses". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  18. ^ a b "Matthew Pittinsky And Michael Chasen - Fast 50 2003". Fast Company. 28 February 2003. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  19. ^ a b c d e Rip Empson (18 October 2012). "Blackboard: With Both Co-founders Now Gone, It’s The End Of An Era For The Education Software Giant". TechCrunch. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "An Interview with Michael Chasen, Co-Founder and CEO, Blackboard, Inc". The Entrepreneur Center @NVTC. 28 November 2005. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  21. ^ Matthew Kirdahy (12 October 2007). "Young Guns: America’s Youngest CEOs". Forbes. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  22. ^ Richard Gibbons (24 June 2004). "Blackboard's Screeching IPO". The Motley Fool. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  23. ^ a b c d e David Nagel (15 October 2012). "Blackboard CEO Chasen To Step Down". THE Journal. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  24. ^ Scott Jaschik (7 May 2009). "Blackboard Buys Angel". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  25. ^ a b c d Steven Overly (15 October 2012). "Blackboard CEO Michael Chasen to step down in December, firm says". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  26. ^ Bill Flook (30 March 2010). "Blackboard’s open-source play a major strategic shift". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  27. ^ a b Jeff Clabaugh (15 October 2012). "Blackboard CEO Michael Chasen to step down". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  28. ^ Aquala Bogan (9 May 2013). "Blackboard Co-Founder Michael Chasen Announces Launch of SocialRadar". WashingtonExec. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  29. ^ a b c Bill Flook (29 April 2013). "Michael Chasen's new thing: SocialRadar". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  30. ^ a b c Steven Overly (30 April 2013). "Michael Chasen launches new venture: SocialRadar". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 May 2013.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Overly13" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  31. ^ Bill Flook (30 April 2013). "Ex-Blackboarders join SocialRadar, Michael Chasen's new startup". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  32. ^ a b "Blackboard Co-Founder Michael Chasen Raises $12.75M Series A For SocialRadar, A New Take On Location-Based People Discovery Apps". TechCrunch. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  33. ^ a b Kira M Newman (19 June 2013). "SocialRadar collects $12.75M from investors". Tech Cocktail. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  34. ^ http://www.bizjournals.com/prnewswire/press_releases/2014/01/30/PH55782.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  35. ^ "University of Maryland Technology Start-Up Boot Camp". Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute. University of Maryland. October 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  36. ^ "Executive profile: Michael L. Chasen". Businessweek. 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  37. ^ a b Bill Flook (19 October 2012). "Michael Chasen ponders angel investing post-Blackboard". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  38. ^ "popexpert Raises $2M in Funding". FinSMEs. 21 May 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 

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