Top Hat Announces Executive Appointments with Gene Murray from Blackboard and Matt York from Achieveres

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Top Hat Moves to Campus-wide Adoptions, Brings in Education Sales and Technology Veterans to Drive Innovation and Growth

There is considerable momentum from educators already, and I look forward to working with the team as we make Top Hat the campus-wide solution to drive student engagement at universities around the world.

Top Hat, the leading provider of web-based classroom response systems, announced today that two new executive team members joined its ranks. Education technology veteran Gene Murray joins the team as Vice President of Sales, and SaaS engineering expert Matt York fills the role of VP of Technology. These appointments will guide Top Hat’s next stage of development as the company ramps up efforts to drive campus-wide adoptions.

Murray comes to Top Hat with over 12 years of experience in sales at Blackboard, the global leader in learning management systems. He most recently served as VP of Global Sales for Blackboard Learn, which brought in 40% of the company’s overall revenue in 2012.

Murray joins Top Hat at a time of tremendous growth. The web-based classroom response system is used on over 350 campuses worldwide, and it already has garnered interest from over 30 schools regarding site-wide implementations.

“I am excited to be coming on board at such a transformative stage for Top Hat," said Murray. "Its technology is second to none, and its user base is already impressive. There is considerable momentum from educators already, and I look forward to working with the team as we make Top Hat the campus-wide solution to drive student engagement at universities around the world.”

Until recently, Top Hat’s sales strategy relied on individual professor adoptions to drive revenue. After receiving a number of inbound requests from institutions interested in campus-wide licenses, however, Top Hat adjusted its approach. It began to complement the individual professor outreach with a comprehensive top-down strategy.

“Gene understands the education space better than anyone,” said Top Hat’s COO, Andrew D’Souza. “He is particularly attuned to the priorities of university Provosts and CIOs, and he knows how Top Hat can help them attain their goals of student engagement and success. He joined Blackboard when it was just a startup, and we’re thrilled to have him on board to help us scale at this critical phase.”

As the company focuses on these university-wide deployments, Top Hat’s newly appointed VP of Engineering, Matt York, will ensure the platform has the architecture and manpower to support this rapid growth while simultaneously continuing to innovate and drive change. Before joining Top Hat, Matt managed a team of engineers at Achievers, a SaaS platform which builds enterprise-class solutions for employee engagement.

CEO Mike Silagadze said, “At our current rate of expansion, it is imperative that we have an experienced, visionary VP of Engineering. Matt will focus on scaling our engineering team and process so we can continue to build innovative products which meet the needs of our rapidly growing client base. In parallel with that, he and his team will build out scalable architecture to meet the user growth accompanying that adoption.”

Top Hat leverages students’ own mobile or web-enabled devices to increase engagement, retention and comprehension. Working over WiFi or SMS, Top Hat enables students to respond to real-time questions and polls asked by their instructor, participate in discussions, compete in class-wide tournaments, run interactive simulations and more. Case studies and data from current professors indicate grade increases of 3-5% and attendance increasing upwards of 30% when using TopHat.

About Top Hat

Top Hat is the leading web-based classroom response provider. It makes the classroom experience more engaging, rewarding and effective for instructors and students at over 350 universities worldwide. Top Hat is headquartered in Toronto, with offices in San Francisco and Chicago.

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Shaya Fidel
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