[this letter was sent via email on the morning of March 19, 2015]
Dear OverDrive Library & School Partners,
OverDrive announced today that Rakuten, Inc. has agreed to acquire OverDrive from Insight Venture Partners, our private equity partner and majority owner since 2010. In a few weeks after the sale is complete, we will be part Rakuten USA, the US operating division of Rakuten, Inc. As you are an important partner of OverDrive, I am excited to share this news and describe what this will mean for you and your readers. Our announcement and FAQs can be found here.
OverDrive has grown significantly in the past decade due to our drive to constantly improve our service and deliver proven value for our library partners. Over the past four years we drew upon resources from Insight Venture Partners and its global portfolio of 90 technology-based companies. I am very excited about the new technologies, content, and innovations we expect to bring to our library partners and your readers as a result of this transaction. Rakuten is one of the world’s leading Internet services companies. Its business interests include eReading (Kobo), e-commerce (Rakuten.com, formerly buy.com and EBATES), instant messaging (Viber), and other B2C and B2B businesses in the US, Canada, and around the world. Since 2012, Rakuten (http://global.rakuten.com/corp/about) has been ranked among the world’s ‘Top 20 Most Innovative Companies’ in Forbes magazine’s annual list.
This change in ownership will not affect our commitment to connect your readers with books and libraries by supporting all popular devices and apps. We remain committed to continue advancement of open industry standards, deep library integration, and other industry best practices. We will remain strongly aligned with your mission to uphold reader privacy, library branding and control of lending policies, and local curation of your digital collections. OverDrive will continue to be a strong advocate for library and school access to the best collections of digital materials with library-friendly terms and new and more flexible access models from publishers.
I will be meeting with library and school directors, management, and staff over the coming weeks and months to further outline our roadmap for 2015 and beyond. As proud members of ALA, we are in close communication with ALA leadership and the technology and information policy and advocacy units.
While competitors or others may speculate what this news may bring, we will continue as before to work hard and provide the best selection, service, device compatibility, with measurable benefits for your communities.
We are preparing to work closely with Kobo (headquartered in Toronto) to add eBooks from their vast supply network of international publishers and content providers. To better serve our Canadian library and school partners, I am also pleased to announce we are preparing to open OverDrive Canada offices in Toronto in the coming months.
I am very proud of the relationships we have developed with many of you, the world’s greatest librarians, educators, and public servants. I look forward to making 2015 another record year of enabling service to your communities with increased efficiencies and respect for your resources. My team and I welcome a chance to answer any questions you may have. If we don’t connect before the summer, please plan to schedule a meeting with me and Team OverDrive at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco, or consider joining us and hundreds of librarians, educators and publishers this summer in Cleveland for Digipalooza 2015 (www.digipalooza.com). Thank you for your partnership and for the trust you have placed in us.
Steve Potash, CEO OverDrive, Inc.