Media

Inkling scores $16M, partners with Pearson and Elsevier for its digital book platform

With another hefty round of funding, Inkling’s plans to dominate the e-book world are one step closer to reality.

Back in February, Inkling announced Inkling Habitat, an all-encompassing publishing environment for digital books. The company’s ambition seems to have clicked with investors — Inkling announced today that it has raised a $16 million third round from Sequoia Capital’s Growth Fund and others.

“It’s really clear when we started raising capital that investors understood the immense opportunity here,” said Matt MacInnis, Inkling’s founder and chief executive, in an interview with VentureBeat.

Additionally, Inkling also announced that it has partnered with top publishers Pearson and Elsevier to use Inkling Habitat as the primary way to build their e-books. Inkling will also serve up Elsevier’s reference and other learning content on mobile devices and the web.

Inkling has spent the past few years building up a marketplace for textbooks and other instructional e-book content — but now the company is aiming big. It will use the funding towards building up its relationships with publishers, as well expanding its e-book channel for consumers.

The company’s big draw for publishers is its unique ability to make e-books searchable by Google and other search engines. Inkling had to spend years developing a secure web reader, a method for structuring content, and pulling together deals with publishers before it could make its library indexed by search engines. That’s something Amazon can’t do with its Kindle storefront (which MacInnis has referred to as “glorified $10 text files”).

MacInnis tells me the company is seeing “double-digit” compound growth in traffic and revenue coming from Google searches. San Francisco-based Inkling has raised more than $33 million altogether. Other investors include Felicis Ventures, Tenaya Capital, and Kapor Capital.

While it seems like Inkling is becoming an increasingly ripe acquisition opportunity by the likes of Amazon, MacInnis made it clear he’s far more interested in building up the company rather than selling it off.

“We’re in this for the long haul … our goal as a company is to build something lasting and standalone,” he said. “We’re in it to define the standard for how people find something in digital content. There’s a huge market opportunity there to become a SalesForce for publishing.”

As for Inkling’s next big challenge? “Honestly it’s about the land-grab, it’s about how quickly can we execute to become the standard,” MacInnis said. “The market is big enough that there will be competitors … the sooner we can bring the publishing world over to Habitat as a platform, the sooner we’ll be able to declare victory.”

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