High-profile Silicon Valley startup Chegg just raised $75 million to keep expanding its core business of shipping used textbooks to college students. But CEO Dan Rosensweig said that the company is going to woo students every day of the year, not just when they’re checking off their curricula.
Chegg recently acquired CourseRank, a website that allows students to rate professors and download course requirements. The latter is a neat fit with Chegg’s textbook rentals, since it helps Chegg determine which books to order. But the hope is it will also give students a reason to visit Chegg more frequently than once a semester — at which point Chegg can market additional products, such as e-books and digital course supplements.
The business strategy is reminiscent of Netflix, which began with DVD rentals by mail, but is now increasingly emphasizing online video streaming.
Rosensweig wouldn’t answer directly a question about how many textbooks Chegg has rented. But he noted that Chegg plants a tree for every order a student places, and it’s planted 3 million trees to date.
Right now, Chegg’s business is heavily seasonal. The company has between 95 and 100 employees, Rosensweig said, a number that swells to 300 to 400 during the textbook-ordering seasons of January to February and August to September.