Inkling, a software platform specializing in creating multimedia e-books for the iPad, has reached major agreements with Pearson and Elsevier to create “next generation,” digital educational content using its Habitat authoring tool. In addition, the company has secured $16 million in series C funding from Sequoia Capital’s Growth Fund and additional funding from its other investors. Inkling also announced the hiring of three new executives to direct its marketing, business development and finance and operations activities.
Pearson and Elsevier have signed on to use Inkling’s Habitat, a multimedia authoring tool that allows the creation of media-enriched content distributable through a variety of online channels, as their primary platform for creating digital-first educational content. Although both publishers have been working with Inkling to convert some of their content using Habitat, the new multi-year agreements mean the publishers “are licensing the software as cornerpiece of a digital-first authoring platform,” said Inkling CEO Matt MacInnis during a phone interview. “Publishers are transitioning to creating content in digital formats first rather than in print. No more shipping CDS, no ink and paper, they don’t start in InDesign, you start with Habitat—you can also output to print—the value chain is changing,” MacIness said.
The company also announced the hiring of Gus Gostyla, former head of business development at Flipboard, who has been named v-p of business development; Hema Padhu, previously v-p of marketing at ModCloth, has been named v-p of marketing; and Stephanie Panier, previously with Google and GoodData, has been named v-p of finance and operations. Macinnis said Inkling has a staff of about 110 employees and that it is “growing.”
MacInnis also emphasized that the publishers will be using Habitat to create “next-gen digital products,’ not simply converting print texts into a new digital format.While using Habitat to create digital-first multimedia-enabled educational content, the publishers will also make use of Inkling’s Content Display Platform, a technology developed in partnership with Google that allows Inkling to structure Habitat multimedia content so that it shows up in Google searches, allowing consumers to click through on those links directly into the desired online content and purchase it directly in whole or in chapters or even smaller “chunks”—and all the content’s multimedia features—video, sound, animation and interactivity—work in the online version.
While MacInnis declined to provide specific numbers for the amount of content Pearson will be creating on Habitat, he said the publisher will be “producing a large, but unspecified backlist, and new digital content, some of which is traditional textbook content and some of which is digitally native (has never and will never be a book.)” Elsevier, on the other hand, will bring more than 650 medical titles into the Inkling platform, making them available via its Student Consult, an online store for students to purchase digital textbook content and Expert Consult, an online site for medical professionals to purchase digital content. Both sites will be supplied by Inklings Content Display Platform. McInnis said Elsevier is slicing that content into more than 600,000 discrete chunks of content and its organized sematically, not by pages, so it is searchable in Google. Consumer’s can buy access to the all the content or buy it on a chunk by chunk basis, often for as little as $5.
MacInnis said traffic and revenue on the Inkling Content Display Platform, shows a “ double digit growth rate, compounded week over week.”