Blackboard founder transforms Zoom add-on designed for teachers into business tool

When Michael Chasen, the founder of Blackboard, was in college, he and a friend conceived the idea for an online classroom organizational tool. His original company was acquired for $1.64 billion in 2011. During the pandemic, Chasen developed Class, a Zoom add-on, to assist teachers in utilizing Zoom more effectively in a classroom environment, especially during the early stages of the pandemic.

However, users of Class expressed the need for a similar tool for business purposes. As a result, Class introduced ProFeatures for Zoom, catering specifically to business users.

ProFeatures allows multiple participants to edit documents in Microsoft Office or Google Docs, collaborate on a Miro whiteboard, or edit code together in Microsoft Visual Studio. If a desired SaaS tool is not included in the default options, there is a built-in browser for accessing any website or application.

Additionally, users can have multiple tabs open to share multiple screens rather than just one presenter's screen.

Chasen stated, 'I had numerous clients expressing interest in using this for their regular meetings, so I instructed my developers to modify our product by removing the learning tools and retaining the fundamental enhancements we made to Zoom.'

While Class was performing well, having raised $164 million according to Crunchbase, Chasen recognized the opportunity for business expansion. With the introduction of ProFeatures for Zoom, alongside Class for Zoom and Class for Microsoft Teams, the company is diversifying its offerings. ProFeatures has already generated $17 million in enterprise licenses sales, indicating strong demand for the advanced features among businesses.

Revenues are derived from enterprise licensing, providing features such as centralized IT control, single sign-on, and other functionalities essential for managing usage within large organizations.

The tool also benefits from a viral marketing approach, whereby participants using ProFeatures in a meeting can prompt others to download the tool for enhanced collaboration. Sharing permissions can be customized, allowing control over who can view, edit, or comment on shared content.

Furthermore, the ProFeatures AI Assistant can transcribe meetings, capture shared documents, files, and webpages, and provide insights on discussions held during the meeting. ProFeatures, including the AI Assistant, is now available through Class.

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