HubEdu Departs San Diego’s Downtown Incubator After Bay Area Buyout

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operate as a division of Rafter. BookRenter has been growing fast, establishing partnerships for its online book rental services with 560 campus bookstores serving six million students. As my colleague Wade Roush reported last year, BookRenter also faces some stiff competition in Santa Clara, CA-based Chegg, which has a customer base about five times larger than BookRenter’s. Like Rafter, Chegg also has been expanding beyond a narrow focus on textbook rentals into more of a full-service technology platform for colleges and universities.

Chegg also has raised more cash—between $150 million and $195 million—from investors that include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Insight Venture Partners, and Gabriel Venture Partners. In comparison, Rafter has raised at least $56 million from investors that include Storm Ventures, Adams Capital Management, and Norwest Venture Partners.

HubEdu deal was Rafter’s first strategic acquisition. Terms of the deal, which Simkin described as more of an asset sale, were not disclosed. One key asset—if not the key asset—that Rafter sought was pricing analytics technology the HubEdu had developed to help campus bookstore managers compete more effectively with online pricing.

The Web-based analytics, rebranded as Rafter’s “Price IQ,” enables a bookstore to compare the price of every title in its inventory with prices available to students from other sources. The free service is intended to help managers identify books that are priced below the online market and increase overall revenue by adjusting the price of those books.

As part of the transaction, three of HubEdu’s four employees, including Simkin, have moved to the Bay Area to join Rafter.

“It’s exciting to be the first graduate of EvoNexus,” Simkin says. “It’s sad to leave San Diego. I absolutely love it here and I definitely plan on coming back.” Although the Bay Area continues to attract some of San Diego’s more-promising tech startups, he says, “It’s good to know that San Diego companies can succeed and we can do good work.”

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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2 responses to “HubEdu Departs San Diego’s Downtown Incubator After Bay Area Buyout”

  1. I think the draw of San Fran for developers and startup founders is a kin a draw as fly’s to bug zappers. The dream of not only having a successful startup but to enter the Silicon Valley community and to create relationships with or become the darlings of the Tech Sector is something that we all may deep down want. I went house hunting last year when I was still in school and realized that for family reasons San Diego was the best place for me to make my money, but I still try to make my yearly Mecca trip to all of the great conferences at least once a year if not more for what is always an exciting pilgrimage.

  2. Steven Cox says:

    Congrats to the team, but selfishly would love to see them stay in SD and build another company. Wishing the guys all the best.