In 2010, Insight Venture Partners invested in OverDrive, Inc., which enables public libraries to lend e-books, audio and other digital content. At that time, the market for e-books was still small. However, Insight’s “thesis was that e-books would continue to grow and that library patrons and schools would need to follow the private market trend by providing digital reading materials for consumption on any device at any time,” firm managing director Hilary Gosher tells Women’s PE Briefs. That thesis paid off this week, when Japanese online retailer Rakuten, Inc., agreed to buy OverDrive for a price reported to be about $410 million. Hilary, who was part of the team that made the investment, had served on OverDrive’s board for the last five years.
The buyer, Rakuten, has become active in the United States, as it recently led the $530 million funding round raised by ride-sharing service Lyft. In 2011, Rakuten paid $315 million to acquire e-book seller Kobo, which is located in Toronto. Under the terms of the deal, Cleveland-based OverDrive will operate as a subsidiary of Rakuten USA, but will work with Kobo. Founded in 1986, it provides e-books, audiobooks, music and streaming video to 33,000 libraries, schools and retailers worldwide. Insight was OverDrive’s majority shareholder. The amount that Insight invested in 2010 has not been disclosed. It was only described as “major.” Hilary, who was a past speaker at the Women’s Alternative Investment Summit, co-manages Insight Onsite, the firm’s team of operations and growth experts who provide collaborative operational assistance and advice to its portfolio companies. Hilary founded the team in 2000, and has worked alongside more than 70 software and Internet companies, advising on day-to-day strategy, operations, M&A and post-merger integration. Additionally, she sits on the firm’s investment committee, manages due diligence and runs the firm’s marketing and PR activities. Hilary also serves on the board of directors, or works with, Datasift, Drillinginfo, Mimecast and Planview. She is also an adjunct professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, teaching entrepreneurship to MBA students and actively mentoring technology startups