With $103M Raise, Edtech Firm Coursera Graduates to Unicorn Status

Online education company Coursera announced today it raised $103 million in a Series E equity funding round to expand the international reach of its coursework, degree offerings, and workforce training programs.

The fundraising round brings in new investor SEEK Group, an Australia-based job search, education, and workforce matchmaking firm whose affiliated businesses operate in 18 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, and Brazil. Previous Coursera investors Future Fund and NEA also participated in the round.

Investors in the Mountain View, CA-based company have now agreed on a valuation of more than $1 billion, TechCrunch reported. Coursera had raised a total of $210.1 million by the time of its last funding round in June 2017, when it raised $64 million, according to Crunchbase.

In a blogpost, Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda says the new capital will enable the company to extend its global role in preparing companies and workers for a “Fourth Industrial Revolution’’ driven by automation and artificial intelligence.

“As the future of work and the future of learning converge, there is an enormous opportunity for us to make the world’s best education available to hundreds of millions around the world and change the way they learn,’’ Maggioncalda states.

Coursera says its learning marketplace now serves 40 million students, offers coursework from more than 150 universities, and addresses the workforce needs of 1,800 companies.

Coursera, founded in 2012 by Stanford computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, began as an online platform where universities could make their individual courses available to any student in any location. The company still provides single, short-term courses for modest fees to students, who can earn a certificate on completion. One example is a machine learning course from Stanford University.

The company’s offerings have since expanded to include lengthier course sequences in subject matter specializations, such as the Data Structures and Algorithms series from the University of California-San Diego. Students pay for these on a subscription basis. Beyond that, students can earn university-recognized master’s degrees that take as long as three years, and cost as much as $25,000. These include a Master of Computer Science degree from the University of Illinois. Coursera also organizes workforce education programs for businesses, in collaboration with universities.

SEEK Group plays a related matchmaking role, connecting global learners with thousands of courses offered by universities in Australia and elsewhere. In 1998, the company started its mission by launching a website to circulate job postings.

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