Web textbook company Chegg Inc. has opened an Israeli R&D center on the basis of 3D3R Ltd., which it acquired, reportedly for $1.1 million in shares, in November 2011. 3D3R founder Ohad Eder-Pressman was appointed Chegg director for R&D, and the company's employees are the core of Chegg's center.
Chegg is not familiar to Israelis, but it is a large company that has garnered huge popularity in the past few years in the US. It has raised $220 million to date and works with 6,400 academic institutions in the US. The company's raison d'être is to save students the cost of textbooks, which can cost more than $100 each. The company operates a warehouse in Kentucky and a massive logistics operation similar to that of Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN).
3D3R developed HTML5 formatting, and, last month, helped Chegg launch its eTextbook Reader platform for browsers and cellphones. Eder-Pressman, who is in Israel for the inauguration of the R&D center, told "Globes", "Chegg opened an R&D office in Israel to house its engineers from the 3D3R acquisition and to further tap into the great talent available here in Israel. Chegg hasn't set an explicit head count target for Israel but considers it an engine of R&D growth with great potential. As a matter of fact, Chegg has already recruited beyond the original 3D3R team."
The R&D center currently has ten employees. Eder-Pressman says, "The relationship started when Chegg investor Oren Zeev introduced me to the company's CTO, Chuck Geiger. This introduction led me to teach an HTML5 workshop at Chegg, begin a consulting relationship and eventually the acquisition." They met at an event organized by Yossi Vardi.
He added, "Our team was very excited to be part of such a talented engineering organization working on innovative projects to help students on a global scale."
The digital textbooks industry is heating up. Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has entered the field through joint ventures with publishers to produce iPad compatible versions of their books. Apple is focusing on school textbooks, but it cannot be ruled out that within a year or two, it could challenge Chegg in digital college textbooks for all devices, and not just for iPads.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 8, 2012
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