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Does more money for campus card vendors guarantee better products?

Last month, I suggested that one result of Blackboard’s IPO would certainly be the increased attention on the campus card market from the investment community. Well that was more correct than I knew. CBORD announced a recapitalization bringing, for the first time, outside investment into the privately-held company.

Both Blackboard and CBORD have more money in their pocket than they did a month ago, but what does that really mean? Will it translate into product enhancements? Better support? More sales? It is not possible to know.

In most cases, the ownership structure a company makes little real difference to the company’s customers. Cash infusion alone, be it via public markets or private sources, doesn’t make a product better or worse. It only opens doors while closing others.

If you compare the companies serving the campus card market, there are all types of financing structures represented. Some are publicly traded, some are privately owned. Some are small divisions within larger companies, some are wholly-owned subsidiaries of larger organizations. Some privately owned companies are closely held while others are externally funded.

And each of these companies, I would argue, has a large number of customers that are very happy and a smaller number that are dissatisfied.

Sure money is great and it can enable a company to do great things, but it can also cause misdirection. It is how the money is used that really matters. Use it wisely.

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