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Silicon Valley textbook-rental company Chegg is chugging along

September 27, 2010 |  4:34 pm

Dan Rosensweig had plenty of reasons to be on top of the world Monday when he dropped by the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.

$75 million worth of them, to be exact.

That’s how much money his high-profile Silicon Valley start-up recently raised to expand its business of renting textbooks to college students.

It had already raised $84.2 million in equity plus $55 million in credit and debt from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Insight Venture Partners and others. The new funding reportedly comes from Hong Kong investment firm Ace Ltd.

Chegg is clearly swinging for the fences (and a big exit) as the frontrunner in the competitive, $12-billion textbook-rental business.

Rosensweig, Chegg's chief executive, wouldn’t say how many textbooks his Santa Clara company rents out each year, but he said that his company, which plants a tree with every order, has planted 3 million so far.

Chegg’s business is still very seasonal. It recently bought CourseRank, a website on which students can  rate professors, review classes and download course schedules and requirements. It hopes the move will prompt students to visit more than once a quarter or semester, to pick up items such as e-books or course supplements.

Chegg, a mash-up between chicken and egg, was born in 2005 at Iowa State University as a Craigslist for college students, renting textbooks and other things. Now it serves nearly 7,000 schools across the country with 120 employees.

“The company has blossomed,” Rosensweig said.

-- Jessica Guynn