Coursera, A Startup That Offers Free Courses From Top Universities, Just Raised A Humongous Amount Of Cash

Business Insider

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Red-hot online education startup Coursera just closed a $43 million Series B round, following a $22 million Series A round last year.

Investors included Learn Capital, GSV Capital, International Finance Corporation, Laureate Education, and Yuri Milner.

Coursera launched in April 2012, but it has quickly grown to become the one of the dominant players in the $4.5 trillion learning industry. It currently works with 83 educational institutions across 4 continents to offer about  400 free college-level courses online.

"It's been surreal," Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller tells Business Insider. "That's the adjective I like to use. We thought we had a good idea, allowing people to get access to education that has been lacking in many parts of the world. We knew we had something significant, but I don't think we envisioned hitting 4 million members just a year out."

But that's not to say that Coursera hasn't had its fair share of hardships. It's hard to find a revenue model where you don't charge your users. At the same time, massive open online courses (MOOCs) need to be able to offer some value or return to universities. 

Since launching, Coursera had added career services, verified certificates for a fee, and courses for credit. But Koller says that Coursera has no intention of becoming a degree-granting business. Instead, it wants to work with universities to support  them in providing accessible, high-quality degree programs to their students.

Coursera plans to use the new funding to double its employees, release an API, launch a collection of mobile apps, and more. But the main thing is to expand internationally through things like distribution partnerships, Koller says. The goal is to address physical constraints, like capacity issues, in the developing world.



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