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Udemy Soars Amid Pandemic

Posted on Monday, Oct 26th 2020

According to a recent report, the global online learning market is estimate to grow at 9% CAGR to more than $319 billion by 2025. The current pandemic conditions will spur the growth to higher rates as people look to remote options for learning and skill enhancement.

Udemy’s Offerings

San Francisco-based Udemy was founded by Eren Bali, Gagan Biyani, and Oktay Caglar in 2010. Eren believed that online instruction did not need highly qualified professionals to be teaching students. Eren himself had grown up in Turkey where he learnt math by researching problems on the internet. He created a live streaming version of Udemy back in 2007 out of Turkey. But that version did not get positive results. Soon he quit and joined SpeedDate as an engineer out of Silicon Valley.

In the next two years, Eren and his cofounders bootstrapped to set up Udemy. Today, Udemy has become a leading online learning company helping students, companies, and governments acquire the skills needed to compete in today’s economy. It has a curated collection of business and technical courses that enables organizations, governments, and nonprofits to develop in-house expertise and cater to the employees’ needs for learning and development. Udemy provides the learners with access to a marketplace of 130,000 different online learning courses for all sorts of learning, from business analytics to ukulele lessons.

The company boasts of more than 110 million minutes of video taught on its platform in over 65 languages. It has 35 million learners, 57,000 instructors, and 400 million course enrollments. Companies like Adidas, General Mills, Toyota, Wipro, Pinterest, and Lyft are its customers who are developing and administering subscription-based professional development courses with Udemy.

The current pandemic conditions have been a boon to Udemy as more and more people are signing up to enhance both their technical and non-technical skills. Udemy revealed that portrait drawing and Reiki massage courses are among the popular courses during the pandemic. Online programming courses from companies like this can help people who aspire of becoming a data scientist one day.

Udemy is not the only player in the online learning space. Coursera and Lynda from LinkedIn are also delivering similar services. But Udemy’s biggest differentiating factor is the suite of instructors on its panel. Unlike LinkedIn and Coursera that work with university professors or screen instructors significantly before releasing their courses online, Udemy has a much simpler process. Instructors on its site need to meet six items on a checklist of minimum requirements that include conditions like posting at least 30 minutes of video content per course. Udemy also doesn’t restrict the number of courses that the instructors can teach. Hateful and disrespectful content is obviously barred, but instructors can teach anything they aspire to teach.

Udemy has become a big source of income for online instructors with a few making a million a year. A few hundred of its instructors earn six figure incomes from Udemy and Covid is expected to help double that number.

Udemy’s Financials

Udemy remains privately held so far. Its courses don’t translate into credits, and are priced from $10-$20 each. It shares 50% of the course fees it earns with its instructors. It claims to have paid $350 million in earnings to its instructors since inception. Besides individuals, organizations also access Udemy through a subscription-based model. Udemy does not disclose its financials, but analysts estimate that it will cross revenues of $400 million this year.

Udemy has raised $223 million in funding from investors, including Benesse, Manhattan Venture Partners, Prosus & Naspers, Insight Partners, Stripes, Norwest Venture Partners, Insight Partners, MHS Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, and Learn Capital. Its most recent round of funding of $50 million was held in February this year at a $2 billion valuation. Analysts believe that the company is planning for an IPO in February 2021, but Udemy has not divulged details on the timeline.

Photo Credit: Peggy_Marco / Pixabay

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