Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and Bessemer Venture Partners Invest $15 Million in Flat World Knowledge
(Press Release) IRVINGTON, NY—Flat World Knowledge, the largest publisher of free and open college textbooks for students worldwide, today announced it has secured $15 million in Series B funding led by Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Bertelsmann AG, a leading international media company, and Bessemer Venture Partners, a top global investment firm. Also joining the round are returning investors Valhalla Partners, GSA Venture Partners (formerly Greenhill SAVP), High Peaks Venture Partners, and several angel investors.
"Flat World Knowledge has the potential to significantly transform the $8 billion college textbook publishing industry," said Keith Titan, a principal at BDMI, who will be joining the company's board. "Among the players in this space, Flat World is uniquely positioned to fully capitalize on the Internet with an open textbook model that dramatically lowers costs for students and provides professors with greater control over the content, which is written by top academic authors. Flat World represents a compelling and innovative model for the future of publishing in higher education."
Flat World is a commercial pioneer within the growing open content movement to make educational materials freely available online and accessible to everyone. Under its open textbook model, students can read peer-reviewed textbooks in their entirety online for free or purchase print and digital versions. The company generates revenue through the sale of print books, e-books for devices like the iPad and Kindle, audio books, PDF downloads and interactive study aids.
"This company is laser-focused on the fastest-growing sector of the higher education market—community and state colleges—where the financial pain of overpriced textbooks is greatest," said Christopher Gabrieli, a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, who will also join the company's board. "Expanding economic and educational opportunities for students has never been more important. Flat World has stepped up to the challenge with expertise, creativity, and a bold approach that removes a major barrier to student success."