Open-Source Textbook Publisher Raises $8 Million

Flat World Knowledge, a Nyack, N.Y.-based publisher of open-source commercial textbooks, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. Backers include Greenhill SAVP, High Peaks Venture Partners and Valhalla Partners.


Greenhill SAVP announced today it has invested in Flat World Knowledge (“Flat World”).  Greenhill SAVP partnered with Valhalla Partners and High Peaks Venture Partners on an $8m Series A financing.

Based in Nyack, New York, Flat World ( is the world’s first publisher of open source commercial textbooks.  Flat World’s textbooks are written by world-class authors.  The company makes its books available as free web-hosted textbooks.  It earns revenue and pays its authors royalties by providing students with options to purchase print-on-demand soft cover textbooks, audio textbooks, and self-print individual chapters at a fraction of the cost of traditional textbooks.  The company enhances the learning experience by offering low-cost digital study aids like mp3 study guides, interactive web quizzes, and digital flashcards.  Faculty prefer the open-source approach employed by Flat World because it gives them more control over the classroom experience by enabling them to customize books to better suit their teaching style.

Greenhill SAVP’s investment in Pontiflex represents the fund’s fourth online media and marketing services investment in the past year.

“The $8 billion annual college textbook publishing market is poised to undergo a radical transformation in the coming years similar to what we’ve experienced in the music and newspaper industries,” commented Brian Hirsch, Managing Director of Greenhill SAVP.  “College students are digital natives and are demanding the ability to consume and interact collaboratively with educational content anywhere, anytime and anyway.  Led by an impressive management team with deep roots in the college textbook publishing industry, we believe Flat World has created the best model to lead the textbook industry’s transformation.  We’re thrilled to be part of the Flat World team and look forward to helping the founders’ vision become a reality.

“The timing of this latest investment could not be better,” said Jeff Shelstad, co-founder and chief executive officer of Flat World Knowledge. “In these uncertain economic times, we all are looking for the best value for our preferred products and services.  Administrators, parents, faculty, and students are very intrigued by and attracted to the value provided by the Flat World Knowledge model.  With this further investment, we can continue to scale our sales and marketing activities, staff up our acquisition talent to attract more talented authors to Flat World Knowledge, and improve the overall experience for our customers.  We are very grateful for the financial support of our investors.”

About Greenhill SAVP

With over $100 million under management, Greenhill SAVP makes early stage venture investments in technology-enabled services and business information services companies.  Prior fund manager investments include LivePerson (NASDAQ: LPSN), OpenWave (NASDAQ: OPWV), YellowJacket (acquired by the Intercontinental Exchange, NYSE: ICE), UGO Networks (acquired by Hearst Corporation), and KnowledgeStorm (acquired by TechTarget, NASDAQ: TTGT).

Greenhill SAVP is an affiliate of Greenhill & Co., Inc. (NYSE: GHL), an independent global investment banking firm with offices in New York, London, Frankfurt, Toronto, Tokyo, San Francisco, Dallas and Chicago.   Greenhill SAVP leverages its deep domain expertise, a proven investment track-record, and a global corporate network to create significant portfolio value.    For more information about Greenhill SAVP, please visit