Daniel L. Rosensweig ’83 was recently featured in The New York Times for announcing he is leaving Activision Blizzard’s Guitar Hero franchise, where he is president and CEO, to take the same position at start-up Chegg.com. The company, according to the Times, is “a well-financed start-up that is applying the online rental model pioneered by Netflix to college textbooks.”
The article quotes Rosensweig, “Textbook rental is a great concept,” Mr. Rosensweig said in an interview. “It is just a great business model.”
During his time as a Hobart student, Rosensweig was a political science major as well as a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. He studied abroad in London. Rosensweig’s accomplished professional life has been focused in media communications and Internet industries, including roles as Chief Operating Officer of Yahoo!, President of CNET, and CEO of ZDNET. While working in those roles, he created internships for HWS which provided the opportunity for a number of students to work directly with him and offered them job opportunities following graduation. He dedicated the Rosensweig Learning Commons at HWS in 2008.
The full story about Rosensweig and Chegg.com follows.
The New York Times
“Rosensweig Lands at Textbook Renter Chegg.com”
Miguel Helft • February 2, 2010
The veteran Silicon Valley executive Dan Rosensweig is leaving his job as president and chief executive of Activision Blizzard’s Guitar Hero franchise to take the same title at Chegg.com, a well-financed start-up that is applying the online rental model pioneered by Netflix to college textbooks. Previously, Mr. Rosensweig served as chief operating officer of Yahoo under Terry Semel, then the chief executive.
Mr. Rosensweig spent just 10 months leading Guitar Hero, the top gaming franchise, during a difficult year for the entire industry.
Mr. Rosensweig is taking over a fast-growing company. I wrote about Chegg.com, the leading player in the fledgling online textbook market, last summer. Since then, the company has raised an additional $112 million in debt, credit and equity financing, bringing its total to nearly $150 million. It counts marquee Silicon Valley firms like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers among its investors.
“Textbook rental is a great concept,” Mr. Rosensweig said in an interview. “It is just a great business model.”
Mr. Rosensweig declined to discuss Chegg’s sales, but that the company grew about sevenfold in the last year. He said it did as much business in January 2010 as in all of 2009.
Chegg has rented more than two million books to students on 6,400 campuses. Mr. Rosensweig said that Chegg would use much of the money it has raised to buy books, not to finance its operations. “The faster we grow, the more capital we need to acquire books,” he said.
But Chegg.com has also had some hiccups. Its former chief executive, Jim Safka, who had joined after a stint as chief executive of Ask.com, left in September after just four months on the job. He handed the reins on an interim basis to Osman Rashid, the co-founder and chairman.
“We are thrilled that Dan is joining us as our president and C.E.O.,” Mr. Rashid said in a statement. “We know he is the right person to lead Chegg.com through the next phase of its growth.”
Activision said that David Haddad, the chief operating officer of Guitar Hero, would assume operational responsibility for the unit.