The global pandemic has been a boon to EdTech companies focusing on expanding learning capabilities through an online platform. According to recent reports, the global market for higher education is valued at $2 trillion. Even before the COVID crisis, education was moving online, but the crisis has accelerated that move significantly.
San Francisco-based Coursera was founded by Stanford alumni Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng in 2013. It is a social entrepreneurship company that has entered into tie-ups with several universities across the world to offer free courses online, globally. Coursera’s platform allows professors to conduct their classes online and allows universities and colleges the ability to open their education to any student anywhere through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
Coursera had started as a free service, but it soon realized that a lot of users signed up for courses but did not complete them. It shifted its model to charge users for courses on its platform. It currently has courses from schools including Yale, Duke, and University of Michigan. The company boasts of more than 4,500 courses provided by 160 universities and 40 organizations to over 65 million learners globally.
It is not just educational institutions that are looking up to Coursera. Companies like Novartis and Adobe are part of its 2,500 enterprise customer base accessing the various educational and training programs available on its platform. Last month, the Indian state of Tamil Nadu announced a tie-up with Coursera for the Tamil Nadu Skill Development Corporation that will make Coursera’s courses available to the 50,000 unemployed youth in the state to help improve their skills. Courses available to the youth will include high-demand programs like Google IT Support Professional Certificate program, data science, cloud computing, blockchain, AI, and the Internet of Things.
Coursera is not the only player in the online learning space. Udemy is one of the largest players in the field that offers over 100,000 courses ranging from technical skill enhancement to teacher training, test preparation, and even lifestyle classes. Some of Udemy’s courses are also available in local languages. Other players like EDX and Lynda through LinkedIn also provide access to several training and course materials to users for a fee.
Coursera’s course fee averages around $49 per ten hours of classes. Users can also sign up for an yearly subscription that costs them $399 a year and grants them access to the entire portfolio of courses. In keeping with its social roots, when the pandemic hit and physical classes had to shut down, Coursera launched its Campus Response Initiative that offers courses free to students enrolled in universities around the world. The initiative has attracted more than 1.4 million students. Coursera plans to monetize this user base with plans to start charging the students between $250-$400 per subscription. Colleges and students are aware that the pandemic is not going away soon, and the company is witnessing a sharp growth in its user base.
Coursera does not provide its financial details, but reports estimate that its sales grew from $140 million in 2018 to $225 million in 2019 and will most likely grow 30%-50% this year. Its profitability figures are not known.
Coursera has received $443.1 million in funding from investors, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and New Enterprise Associates. Their most recent round of funding of $130 million was held in July this year at a $2.5 billion valuation. An earlier round held in April last year had valued it at $1.7 billion. The growing revenue and users are driving its valuation upwards. Coursera plans to invest its funds in international growth. It is also planning for an IPO but has not divulged details on a possible timeline.
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