You’ve heard of strange bedfellows. An image publishing company, an online social networking company, and a sports franchise may seem an unlikely combination. However, their representatives are lending their expertise to a textbook-rental based educational firm as it heads toward an initial public offering.
Executives from Shutterfly whose stock is pegged at $52.50, from Facebook, whose stock is selling at $36.56, and from the 49’ers, whose sold-out tickets go for $95 to $1,494 in the secondary market, have been given seats on the Board of Directors for Chegg which is poised for a $150 million IPO. The company that provides a social education platform to students will be trading on the NYSE under ticker symbol CHGG.
Chegg, the textbook rental firm, illustrates how its business works.
While Chegg is trying to bring more students to its site for homework help, course selection, note taking, textbook and e-textbook rentals, Facebook is busy trying to lure celebrities rather than their publicists to interact directly with fans. Shutterfly is busy releasing Photo Story for the iPad so students and others can share their images. Meanwhile, the image of the 49er’s nearly nude quarterback, Colin Kaepernick is making the rounds.
While Colin Kaepernick lends his image to ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue, his boss, 49’er CEO Jed York will be lending his expertise to education-based Chegg’s attempt at an IPO.
Chegg’s Homework Help is a 24/7 online study assistance that promises to answer questions from students such as: "Solve the equation e^(x+4) = e^x + 9.” This particular query ended politely with “Thanks."
Shutterbug Jeffrey Housenbold, yearbook photog in college, now Pres and CEO of Shutterfly, snapped up a seat on Chegg’s Board of Directors.
Executives joining the Chegg team include Shutterfly President and CEO, Jeffrey Housenbold, who appropriately for his present employment was his high school and college yearbook’s photographer. He’ll share his personal opinions with the Chegg Board, such as the following quote from an earlier interview: “I strongly believe in having a singular business focus and the ability to quickly innovate.”
Marne Levine, VP of Global Public Policy at Facebook who stresses the importance of a free and open internet [but not necessarily free textbook rentals], will also add her expertise to Chegg. The third new member of the team is 49er’s CEO Jed York who began his career as a financial analyst at Guggenheim Partners, a diversified financial services firm. He could prove to be instrumental in moving Chegg through its initial public offering.
Chegg's IPO filing says, "We have approximately 180,000 unique titles in our print textbook library available for rent. We also offer more than 100,000 eTextbook titles. Our integrated platform, which we call the Student Hub, offers products and services that students need throughout the college lifecycle, from choosing a college through graduation and beyond.”
One way Chegg generates revenue is by repeatedly renting the same textbook for an academic term. Overall revenue as of June 2013 was reported at $116.9 million however, the company still noted a loss of $21.2 million. Last year, more than 4 million print and e-textbooks were rented or sold. With such high powered executives lending their expertise, the textbook lending business is hoping to soar that is so long as investors don’t take Clegg’s slogan “Don’t Buy It” to heart as they offer them stock in the company.