Chegg begins to roll out the first phase of its new AI-powered user experience
SANTA CLARA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Chegg, Inc. (NYSE:CHGG), the leading student-first connected learning platform, today reported financial results for the three months ended September 30, 2023.
“Chegg is in a great position to build the most impactful, scalable, AI-enabled, personal learning assistant, which will expand our opportunities to serve more students, in more ways, and at a lower cost per customer,” said Dan Rosensweig, CEO & President of Chegg, Inc. “We are moving quickly and have already started to roll out our new simple user interface and unified asking experience, delivering faster and more relevant solutions.”
Third Quarter 2023 Highlights
- Total Net Revenues of $157.9 million, a decrease of 4% year-over-year
- Subscription Services Revenues of $139.9 million, or 89% of total net revenues, a decrease of 4% year-over-year
- Gross Margin of 47% driven lower by a one-time content and related assets charge of $38.2 million
- Non-GAAP Gross Margin of 74%
- Net Loss was $18.3 million
- Non-GAAP Net Income was $23.2 million
- Adjusted EBITDA was $38.8 million
- 4.4 million Subscription Services subscribers, a decrease of 8% year-over-year
Total net revenues include revenues from Subscription Services and Skills and Other. Subscription Services includes revenues from our Chegg Study Pack, Chegg Study, Chegg Writing, Chegg Math, and Busuu offerings. Skills and Other includes revenues from Skills, Advertising, and any other revenues not included in Subscription Services.
For more information about non-GAAP net income, non-GAAP gross margin and adjusted EBITDA, and a reconciliation of non-GAAP net income to net (loss) income, gross margin to non-GAAP gross margin and adjusted EBITDA to net (loss) income, see the sections of this press release titled, “Use of Non-GAAP Measures,” “Reconciliation of Net (Loss) Income to EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA,” and “Reconciliation of GAAP to Non-GAAP Financial Measures.”
Fourth Quarter 2023
- Total Net Revenues in the range of $185 million to $187 million
- Subscription Services Revenues in the range of $164 million to $166 million
- Gross Margin between 73% and 74%
- Adjusted EBITDA in the range of $62 million to $64 million
For more information about the use of forward-looking non-GAAP measures, a reconciliation of forward-looking net income to EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter 2023, see the below sections of the press release titled “Use of Non-GAAP Measures,” and “Reconciliation of Forward-Looking Net Income to EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA.”
An updated investor presentation and an investor data sheet can be found on Chegg’s Investor Relations website https://investor.chegg.com.
Prepared Remarks – Dan Rosensweig, CEO & President Chegg, Inc.
Thank you, Tracey and welcome everyone to our 2023 Q3 earnings call. Chegg had a good quarter, delivering better than expected results, as we saw stabilization in new accounts and increases in overall retention and in the take rate of Chegg Study Pack. In addition to our academic services, we continue to invest in skills where we are seeing very strong growth, all of which is good for the future of Chegg.
Six months ago, leveraging the breakthroughs of artificial intelligence, we began to completely reinvent what we offer, how we offer it, and to whom we offer it. New technology platforms create a lot of hype and noise but, as the hype gives way to facts, we believe Chegg is in a great position to build the most impactful, scalable, AI enabled, personal learning assistant, which will expand our opportunities to serve more students, in more ways, and at a lower cost per customer.
The history of the internet has shown us that verticals win. Leading companies with a strong brand, category expertise, scale, and resources, can invigorate growth and create new opportunities when they move quickly and embrace change. In the world of AI, Chegg has particularly valuable and proprietary assets for education and learning, including our student-first brand, a reputation for quality and accuracy, and our unique content and dataset. Chegg also has a proven track record for improving student outcomes and now, by combining the best of what Chegg has to offer with the advancements in artificial intelligence, we are creating new opportunities to better serve our students.
It has been nearly a year since ChatGPT launched. We have all learned a lot and are experiencing how AI is impacting our lives. We know that students are using ChatGPT but what is interesting is that they are using it for a variety of things in addition to education. Because Chegg is verticalized for learning, what isn’t surprising is that when students try us and compare us to more general AI solutions, Chegg outperforms. That has led to incredibly high retention rates and we are maintaining high customer satisfaction, such as 91% of students report when they use Chegg they get better grades, 89% say Chegg helps them learn their course material, and 90% say they work more efficiently when using Chegg to understand their coursework. And we are now introducing new AI capabilities and features, which we expect will do even more for students.
We are excited about what we are building, and we are moving quickly and rolling out the first phase of our new user experience. In September we started to show our first cohort of users the updated capabilities, with a new simple interface and unified asking experience. This means Chegg can provide answers from our proprietary database, our more than 150,000 subject matter experts and now with generative AI. We are focused on usage, quality, accuracy, and speed, and are on track to introduce our own large-language models trained on Chegg’s unique data. In the coming months, you will see us offer more features including multi-turn chat, which will create a simple and conversational experience, and introduce personalized AI enhanced learning aids, such as practice tests, assessments, study guides, and flashcards. We also plan to let students connect to each other and share content. Over time all of this is designed to expand our TAM and increase our relevancy to millions more students than we serve today. It’s truly an exciting time at Chegg. We are executing well against our plan and are on track to roll-out even more features to more students in Q1 of 2024.
We have only one agenda – to serve the student. What we do is incredibly hard to replicate, giving us a powerful moat. The combination of our successful learning taxonomy, over 100 million solutions generated by Chegg’s subject matter experts, and now the ability to leverage artificial intelligence means we can do what generic AI platforms cannot do.
Our vision for a truly personalized learning assistant is coming to life. To make it easier for you to see what we are building, we’ve created a video for you that is available on our IR website, where you can see how the product is evolving. We believe this will give you a sense of just how powerful Chegg can become, including our ability to blend our academic support and skills efforts, by integrating career pathways into the student experience.
We are beginning to see the investments we have made in skills pay off. By leveraging the latest advances in AI to accelerate our program development, we are able to create relevant, customized, high-impact programs, faster and at a lower cost. We will also be releasing a suite of AI training programs over the coming months. Through our B2B partnerships and direct-to-student efforts we continue to see Chegg Skills grow and expect it to become a meaningful contributor in the years ahead.
We are widening the aperture for Chegg and we hope to reach a much larger audience of learners – one that, historically, we haven’t been able to serve before. This is where much of our future growth will come from and our plan is to continue to execute each quarter towards this vision.
And before I turn it over, I want to acknowledge Andy, as he plans to retire once we hire his replacement early next year. I am deeply grateful for the incredible contributions Andy has made during his 12-year tenure at Chegg. Under his leadership, we have grown from a physical textbook rental business to a global, online, learning platform that has supported more than 22 million students over the last decade. He guided us through our transition to a fully digital business and, in doing so, grew our digital revenue from $0 to over $700 million annually. In fact, when Andy took on the role of CFO, Chegg was unprofitable but today Chegg is profitable and is expected to generate nearly $220 million in adjusted EBITDA and approximately $170 million in free cash flow this year. These are remarkable accomplishments and none of them would have been possible without Andy’s leadership and vision. On a personal note, I want to thank Andy for his partnership, guidance, and friendship over the last decade. He has truly left an indelible mark on this company and will forever be a part of the Chegg and Rosensweig family.
And with that I will turn it over to Andy…
Prepared Remarks – Andy Brown, CFO Chegg, Inc.
Thanks, Dan, for the kind words, it’s been an amazing journey over the past 12 plus years, and I am extremely thankful to you and the Chegg team and proud of what we have collectively accomplished. Also, a big shout out to Tracey and Diana, you are the best IR team I have had the pleasure to work with. You are just awesome. Our company has become an industry leader, a cherished brand that is loved by millions of students worldwide, with a future that is incredibly exciting. Having the opportunity to work for a mission-driven company that is integral to helping students learn has been super rewarding, and I thank you. Now back to business.
Q3 was a good quarter, exceeding our revenue and adjusted EBITDA guidance, and as Dan mentioned, we are encouraged by continued positive trends, such as increasing retention rate and Chegg Study Pack take rate. Total revenue was $158 million, driven by Subscription Services revenue of $140 million, where we had 4.4 million subscribers during the quarter. Skills and Other revenue was $18 million, driven by strong growth in Skills, offset primarily by the change in the Required Materials model, which is now a revenue share, as well as some advertising softness. We remain disciplined on the expense side, aligning investments with our AI-focused strategy, which supported another adjusted EBITDA beat this quarter versus guidance, coming in at $39 million, or a 25% margin.
We had two one-time items that impacted our GAAP gross margin and net income for the quarter. First, during the design of our new generative AI experience, we determined that certain content and system types were no longer necessary. As a result, we have taken a charge of $41.8 million, of which approximately $38.2 million was included in cost of goods sold, which impacted gross margin, and $3.6 million was included in G&A. The second item is that we recorded a gain of $32.1 million from the repurchase of some of our outstanding convertible debt at a discount during the quarter, which was recorded in Other Income.
We have a strong balance sheet and drive significant free cash flow, which we expect will continue and for full year 2023, we now expect free cash flow to be approximately $170 million. We have opportunistically retired both convertible debt and equity, returning approximately $1.2 billion and $800 million, respectively, to investors through repurchases over the last three years. We ended the quarter with $674 million of cash and investments, with total convertible debt outstanding of $603 million at par value. We continue to believe that the combination of our operating model, balance sheet, and cash flows sets us up to deliver on our mission to serve students across the world, leverage AI to expand our offerings and our TAM, and ultimately return to growth while maintaining strong profitability.
Now, moving on to guidance. For Q4 we expect:
- Total revenue to be between $185 and $187 million,
- With Subscription Services revenue between $164 and $166 million,
- Gross margin between 73% and 74%,
- And adjusted EBITDA between $62 and $64 million, or 34% margin.
In closing, we expect the development of AI will allow Chegg to embrace a much larger opportunity over time. We believe there is nobody better equipped to meet the current or future needs of students, than Chegg. We have an industry-leading brand, proprietary data, strong operating model and balance sheet to extend our leadership in the future.
With that, I’ll turn the call over to the operator for questions.
Conference Call and Webcast Information
To access the call, please dial 1-877-407-4018, or outside the U.S. +1-201-689-8471, five minutes prior to 1:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (or 4:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time). A live webcast of the call will also be available at https://investor.chegg.com under the Events & Presentations menu. An audio replay will be available beginning at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (or 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time) on October 30, 2023, until 8:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (or 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time) on November 6, 2023, by calling 1-844-512-2921, or outside the U.S. +1-412-317-6671, with Conference ID 13741760. An audio archive of the call will also be available at https://investor.chegg.com.
Use of Investor Relations Website for Regulation FD Purposes
Chegg also uses its media center website, https://www.chegg.com/press, as a means of disclosing material non-public information and for complying with its disclosure obligations under Regulation FD. Accordingly, investors should monitor https://www.chegg.com/press, in addition to following press releases, Securities and Exchange Commission filings and public conference calls and webcasts.
Millions of people all around the world Learn with Chegg. Our mission is to improve learning and learning outcomes by putting students first. We support life-long learners starting with their academic journey and extending into their careers. The Chegg platform provides products and services to support learners to help them better understand their academic course materials, and also provides personal and professional development skills training, to help them achieve their learning goals. Chegg is a publicly held company based in Santa Clara, California and trades on the NYSE under the symbol CHGG. For more information, visit www.chegg.com.
Use of Non-GAAP Measures
To supplement Chegg’s financial results presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States (GAAP), this press release and the accompanying tables and the related earnings conference call contain non-GAAP financial measures, including adjusted EBITDA, non-GAAP cost of revenues, non-GAAP gross profit, non-GAAP gross margin, non-GAAP operating expenses, non-GAAP income from operations, non-GAAP net income, non-GAAP weighted average shares, non-GAAP net income per share, and free cash flow. For reconciliations of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures, please see the section of the accompanying tables titled, “Reconciliation of Net (Loss) Income to EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA,” “Reconciliation of GAAP to Non-GAAP Financial Measures,” “Reconciliation of Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities to Free Cash Flow,” and “Reconciliation of Forward-Looking Net Income to EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA.”
The presentation of these non-GAAP financial measures is not intended to be considered in isolation from, as a substitute for, or superior to, the financial information prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP, and may be different from non-GAAP financial measures used by other companies. Chegg defines (1) adjusted EBITDA as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization or EBITDA, adjusted for print textbook depreciation expense and to exclude share-based compensation expense, other income, net, acquisition-related compensation costs, content and related assets charge, restructuring charges, loss contingency, transitional logistic charges, and impairment of lease related assets; (2) non-GAAP cost of revenues as cost of revenues excluding content and related assets charge, amortization of intangible assets, share-based compensation expense, acquisition-related compensation costs, restructuring charges, and transitional logistic charges; (3) non-GAAP gross profit as gross profit excluding content and related assets charge, amortization of intangible assets, share-based compensation expense, acquisition-related compensation costs, restructuring charges, and transitional logistic charges; (4) non-GAAP gross margin is defined as non-GAAP gross profit divided by net revenues, (5) non-GAAP operating expenses as operating expenses excluding share-based compensation expense, amortization of intangible assets, acquisition-related compensation costs, content and related assets charge, restructuring charges, loss contingency and impairment of lease related assets; (6) non-GAAP income from operations as (loss) income from operations excluding share-based compensation expense, amortization of intangible assets, acquisition-related compensation costs, content and related assets charge, restructuring charges, loss contingency, transitional logistic charges, and impairment of lease related assets; (7) non-GAAP net income as net (loss) income excluding share-based compensation expense, amortization of intangible assets, acquisition-related compensation costs, amortization of debt issuance costs, the gain on early extinguishments of debt, content and related assets charge, the income tax effect of non-GAAP adjustments, restructuring charges, loss contingency, the tax benefit related to release of valuation allowance, transitional logistic charges, and impairment of lease related assets; (8) non-GAAP weighted average shares outstanding as weighted average shares outstanding adjusted for the effect of shares for stock plan activity and shares related to our convertible senior notes, to the extent such shares are not already included in our weighted average shares outstanding; (9) non-GAAP net income per share is defined as non-GAAP net income divided by non-GAAP weighted average shares outstanding; and (10) free cash flow as net cash provided by operating activities adjusted for purchases of property and equipment, purchases of textbooks and proceeds from disposition of textbooks. To the extent additional significant non-recurring items arise in the future, Chegg may consider whether to exclude such items in calculating the non-GAAP financial measures it uses.
Chegg believes that these non-GAAP financial measures, when taken together with the corresponding GAAP financial measures, provide meaningful supplemental information regarding Chegg’s performance by excluding items that may not be indicative of Chegg’s core business, operating results or future outlook. Chegg management uses these non-GAAP financial measures in assessing Chegg’s operating results, as well as when planning, forecasting and analyzing future periods and believes that such measures enhance investors’ overall understanding of our current financial performance. These non-GAAP financial measures also facilitate comparisons of Chegg’s performance to prior periods.
As presented in the “Reconciliation of Net (Loss) Income to EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA,” “Reconciliation of GAAP to Non-GAAP Financial Measures,” “Reconciliation of Forward-Looking Net Income to EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA,” and “Reconciliation of Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities to Free Cash Flow,” tables below, each of the non-GAAP financial measures excludes or includes one or more of the following items:
Share-based compensation expense.
Share-based compensation expense is a non-cash expense that varies in amount from period to period and is dependent on market forces that are often beyond Chegg’s control. As a result, management excludes this item from Chegg’s internal operating forecasts and models. Management believes that non-GAAP measures adjusted for share-based compensation expense provide investors with a basis to measure Chegg’s core performance against the performance of other companies without the variability created by share-based compensation as a result of the variety of equity awards used by other companies and the varying methodologies and assumptions used.
Amortization of intangible assets.
Chegg amortizes intangible assets, including those that contribute to generating revenues, that it acquires in conjunction with acquisitions, which results in non‑cash expenses that may not otherwise have been incurred. Chegg believes excluding the expense associated with intangible assets from non-GAAP measures allows for a more accurate assessment of its ongoing operations and provides investors with a better comparison of period-over-period operating results. No corresponding adjustments have been made related to revenues generated from acquired intangible assets.
Acquisition-related compensation costs.
Acquisition-related compensation costs include compensation expense resulting from the employment retention of certain key employees established in accordance with the terms of the acquisitions. In most cases, these acquisition-related compensation costs are not factored into management’s evaluation of potential acquisitions or Chegg’s performance after completion of acquisitions, because they are not related to Chegg’s core operating performance. In addition, the frequency and amount of such charges can vary significantly based on the size and timing of acquisitions and the maturities of the businesses being acquired. Excluding acquisition-related compensation costs from non-GAAP measures provides investors with a basis to compare Chegg’s results against those of other companies without the variability caused by purchase accounting.
Content and related assets charge
As part of the design and build of our new generative AI experience, in August 2023, we streamlined our product experiences. As a result, we elected to abandon certain content and software assets that did not align with our AI strategy. The content and related assets charge represents a one-time charge consisting primarily of accelerated depreciation of certain content and software assets of $34.2 million, the impairment of our indefinite-lived intangible asset of $3.6 million, the impairment of certain in progress software assets of $2.6 million and other costs associated with abandoning these content and software assets of $1.4 million. The one-time expense is excluded from non-GAAP financial measures because it is the result of a discrete event that is not considered core-operating activities. Chegg believes that it is appropriate to exclude the content and related assets charge from non-GAAP financial measures because it enables the comparison of period-over-period operating results.
Amortization of debt issuance costs.
The difference between the effective interest expense and the contractual interest expense are excluded from management’s assessment of our operating performance because management believes that these non-cash expenses are not indicative of ongoing operating performance. Chegg believes that the exclusion of the non-cash interest expense provides investors with a better comparison of period-over-period operating results.