Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

MOOC Madness Continues: Coursera Raises $43M

Coursera, which launched just over a year ago to provide massive open online courses, is riding the wave of online education excitement to a significant chunk of funding.

CourseraThe Mountain View, Calif.-based company has raised $43 million in Series B funding from GSV Capital, the investment arm of the World Bank, Laureate Education Inc., Learn Capital and Yuri Milner, as well as previous investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates.

Coursera has registered four million students and started bringing in revenue around verifying students so they can take courses for credential credit. It competes with other MOOC providers like Udacity and EdX, which also have substantial funding and support from prestigious universities and respected professors.

Coursera’s big strength has been partnering with institutions — 83 schools around the world — said co-founder Daphne Koller in an interview on Tuesday. But the startup still has a long way to go on its platform, mobile support, social and group work, as well as assessments, she said.

Some may argue that MOOCs are not a proper substitute for college, but Koller noted that she would prefer to focus on the potential for students from emerging economies to get access to classes. “It’s about, do you have an education at all,” she said.

Though Coursera has been “frugal” with its previous $22 million Series A round, Koller explained the rationale for taking more money was born out of the size of the opportunity to change global education.

A Stanford engineering professor who helped originate the concept of the MOOC in 2010, Koller said, “If you talk to people in the know, there are relatively few sectors that have not yet been transformed by technology — arguably, healthcare, government, education and maybe energy. You basically run out. I think we are now at a point where we can make a significant change both in terms of access and quality.”

Today Coursera has 50 employees, and it plans to double that number this year.

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