|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.
Michael Chasen grew up in Cheshire, Connecticut. He developed an interest in computers at age 10, and he began writing programs on his father’s Radio Shack TRS Model III. He later used his skills to offer local businesses computer consulting while still in school. Also during high school, he was an active member of BBYO (B'nai B'rith Youth Organization).
Chasen attended American University and completed a degree in computer science in three years, graduating in 1993. While at American, Chasen worked part-time doing technology work for the FBI. He met future Blackboard co-founder Matthew Pittinsky in the American University dorms when Pittinsky wanted to borrow Chasen’s laser printer.
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. 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. In 1996, Chasen left law school after completing one year to join KPMG as a consultant in the Higher Education Group.
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.
Chasen and Pittinsky left KPMG in 1997 to launch their e-learning business. 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.
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. 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. The effort resulted in the company’s first, angel investor, contingent on its merger with CourseInfo., Ching-Ho Fung, and a consulting contract with IMS Global.
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.")  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"  They released their first platform product, Blackboard CourseInfo, later that year. 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.
In its first round of financing from angel investors, Chasen and team raised about $500,000. Later Chasen and team led five rounds of investing between August 1998 and April 2001, raising a total of $103 million for Blackboard. Investors in the company included Novak Biddle, followed by ICG Group, Aurora Funds, Carlyle Ventures, Edison Ventures, and Merrill Lynch. Strategic partners included AOL, Dell, Microsoft, Pearson and Kaplan.
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. 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.
Chasen became chief executive officer (CEO) of Blackboard in 1999, and became one of the youngest CEOs of a publicly traded company when he orchestrated Blackboard’s initial public offering in 2004. 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.
As CEO, Chasen and the management team led Blackboard through over 20 successful mergers and acquisitions. In 2006, Chasen oversaw Blackboard’s purchase of WebCT, earning the company an estimated 70-75% share of the education software market. Other notable additions included ANGEL Learning in 2009; Elluminate Inc. and Wimba Inc. in 2010, forming Blackboard Collaborate; Edline, a K-12 software company, in 2011. 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.
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. In December 2012, Chasen announced he would be stepping down as the CEO of Blackboard. Jay Bhatt was named as his successor.
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. He is the CEO of the new company.
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. SocialRadar’s app is planned to enter beta testing in July 2013 according to Tech Cocktail and will initially be developed for iPhone, followed by Android and Glass.
On January 30, 2014, SocialRadar was released to the Apple AppStore.
Awards and recognition
Chasen was included in Forbes’ list of “America's 15 Most Powerful CEOs 40 And Under” and Washington SmartCEO named Chasen as its first CEO of the Year in 2006. Other recognition received by Chasen includes being named Ernst & Young's "Entrepreneur of the Year for Emerging Companies in Washington, D.C." and being honored as a "Young Innovator" by the Kilby Foundation. 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".
Chasen is an active angel investor. His portfolio includes Parchment, EverFi, SubjectMatter, and Popexpert. After announcing his departure from Blackboard, it was reported that Chasen would be pursuing additional investment opportunities.
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