Felicis Ventures

Inkling: The tablet textbook breakthrough

March 23, 2011: 3:01 AM ET

The Silicon Valley startup reveals its establishment investors, an intriguing business model, and the future of interactive textbooks -- on iPads and beyond.

Some technology advances change everything for their users in a way that is deeply visceral and memorable. I still remember, for instance, when I started using a Palm Pilot in 1997. The clunky device certainly was radical and all, but the epiphany for me was the sync-able desktop software that went with it, digitizing my calendar and contacts (but not email). I immediately realized that Palm had re-invented and obsoleted my Rolodex and Filofax, constant professional and personal companions for me at the time.

I had the same feeling recently when I saw an iPad app from Inkling that replicates a college textbook in a digital format. Inkling, a San Francisco startup, recently added textbook giants McGraw-Hill (MHP) and Pearson (PSO) to its roster of investors, which includes Sequoia Capital as well as Felicis Ventures, Kapor Capital and Sherpalo Ventures. Interesting though the business story of Inkling is, what's amazing is how the company has re-invented the textbook experience. Or, in the words of company founder and CEO Matt MacInnis, Inkling is "gently deconstructing the textbook and rebuilding it." More

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