Second Boundless Co-Founder Leaves E-Textbook Startup

Another co-founder is leaving Boundless, a Boston-based e-textbook startup that has been battling a federal lawsuit from big textbook publishers.

Aaron White, one of three Boundless co-founders, says in a blog post today that he’s stepping down from his job as chief technology officer. He will remain on the board, but says he has no immediate plans for his next job.

That leaves CEO Ariel Diaz as the sole remaining founder at Boundless. Co-founder and former marketing chief Brian Balfour left the company last year, and is now an entrepreneur in residence at Trinity Ventures. Reached by e-mail, Diaz declined to elaborate on White’s departure, which was first reported by Walter Frick at BostInno.

Things change fast at startup companies, but it can’t be a good sign when a co-founder leaves. For his part, White writes that the company’s engineering team will remain in the hands of vice president Matt Hodgson.

“We took a bold idea, partnered with bold investors, had the good fortune to assemble one of the smartest teams in Boston, and willed into existence an important and transformative education company – one that will continue to shape the landscape for a very long time,” White writes on his blog.

Boundless is attempting to shake up the old-school college textbook publishing industry by offering free digital versions of common textbooks. The startup has raised nearly $10 million in private investment from backers including Venrock, NextView Ventures, Founder Collective, Kepha Partners, and SV Angel.

It’s part of a larger group of startups and education institutions, many of them based in the Boston area, that are trying to tweak the higher education system by making learning materials cheaper and more widely available.

Boundless’ mission, of course, doesn’t sound too appealing to an established textbook publisher, and three of those companies have hauled the startup into federal court. The lawsuit from Pearson Education, Cengage Learning, and Bedford, Freeman, & Worth says Boundless veered over the line into copyright violation by making “versions” of their texts that aped composition and other original editorial decisions too closely.

In its most recent reply to the suit, Boundless says that the publishers’ claims are based on old, outdated, unavailable products.

Update, 3/27
Diaz has added a post on White’s departure to the Boundless blog.

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