Chegg, a College Hub. Togas Not Included

After nearly going broke, textbook rental site Chegg builds a hub for academic life
Photo illustration by 731; Jim Belushi photograph by Universal Pictures/Everett Collection

When it launched in 2007, Chegg quickly became known as the Netflix for textbooks. Rather than spending $100 or so on a physics or biology tome used for one semester, students turned to Chegg to rent books for as much as 80 percent off the cover price. The startup’s bright orange boxes became as recognizable on college campuses as Netflix’s red envelopes are in living rooms. Chegg received glowing press coverage for disrupting a stodgy industry and saving students hundreds of dollars a year. Venture capitalists fell for the idea, putting more than $140 million into the company by early 2010.

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