Business

Chegg shares fall 23% on first day of trading, but key investor unfazed

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Chegg’s¬†(CHGG) shares are limping along on its first day of trading, down 22% from the initial price of $12.50.

The textbook rental site’s stock fell to $9.64 a share, at the time of publishing, but board member Paul Holland is optimistic that the stock will ultimately go up. Holland is a partner at Foundation Capital,

“I’ve been an operator and a venture capitalist for the past 25 years and been through a number of IPOs,” Holland said in an interview. “What happens on the first day, or week, or month, doesn’t have a whole lot to do with what ends up happening with the company.”

Chegg is an online hub where students rent textbooks. Seven million students used the service to rent or buy 5.5 million textbooks and e-textbooks in the past year. Chegg claims that 40 percent of college-bound high school seniors and nearly 30% of all college students in the U.S. use its platform.

Chegg is growing fast in terms of users and revenue, and Holland said Chegg has significant potential in the long-term and that value will become clear to the public over time.

He estimates that Chegg has saved college students more than $1 billion since it entered the marketplace

Chegg first filed to go public in August 2013, with plans to raise $150 million in its initial public offering. Chegg priced its shared on October 31st, intending to sell 14.4 million shares at between $9.50 and $11.50.

Its initial public offering priced shares above the expected range, raising Chegg $187.5 million and valuing at company at $1.1 billion.

Chegg pulls in an average of $108 per student member. It generated $213.3 million in revenue in 2012, but retained a net loss of $49 by investing heavily in the business. Chegg’s S-1 filing said that it does not expect to be profitable in the near term because it plans to continue building out its Student Hub and Student Graph, and development more products and services for students.

College textbook prices are soaring at an alarming rate — faster than tuition, medical services, and even new homes. The average college student spends a burdensome $655 a year on books, and that’s on top of tuition.

Chegg was founded in 2005 to give students greater access to affordable textbooks. It provides a quick way to buy, rent, and resell textbooks online. In 2011 the company was leading the pack of textbook rental sites and unveiled a host of new features designed to support students in other areas of their education. It also made a number of acquisitions to support these initiatives.

The updated platform helps students select and schedule classes and ask for homework help. There are also tools for searching for college and scholarships, and university-specific course reviews and planners.

Chegg’s Student Hub is the result of that effort. It offers required and supplemental content, products, and services to students so they can get the most out of their education and prepare for the workforce. The Student Graph, along the lines of Facebook’s social graph, collects data about students so over time the system can offer more personalized, relevant content.

The goals are to reduce the cost of education, match students with the most appropriate colleges, support their mastering of material, ultimately produce better outcomes.

“Media is moving more and more digital, and we think that shift will happen in education,” Holland said. “Digital services is where we see the company growing. Chegg wants to be the nexus point between people who are learning and they things they are learning.”

Chegg’s public debut comes closely after Twitter’s, which saw its stock soar by 72% on the first day of trading. Its a tough act to follow, but today’s slump doesn’t mean that Chegg won’t as a public company. Merely that traders weren’t quite as excited about making education more affordable, as they were about tweets.

Chegg previously raised about $200 million in venture capital. Backers include Insight Venture Partners, Foundation Capital,Gabriel Venture Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

More about the companies and people from this article:

Chegg, the student hub, is transforming the way millions of students learn by connecting them to the people and tools needed to succeed in college. As a part of the company's philanthropic efforts, Chegg is dedicated to its Chegg For... read more »

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