As Coursera Evolves, Colleges Stay On and Investors Buy In (CHE)

As Coursera Evolves, Colleges Stay On and Investors Buy In (CHE)

August 25, 2015


Three years ago everyone was talking about Coursera, which had begun partnering with some of the world’s most elite colleges to offer free courses. There was overheated hype, as pundits speculated that it could be a magic bullet to bring down college costs. And there were tough questions, as people wondered what the goal was for partner colleges, and how the Silicon Valley company could make enough revenue on free courses to survive.

Today the MOOC hype has dissipated, but the company’s leaders say Coursera has found a way to make money, and that partner colleges have found a clear reason to participate. Those answers, the company announced on Tuesday, were enough to convince investors to give a fresh infusion of $60 million in venture-capital funds.

Richard C. Levin, the company’s CEO and former president of Yale University, said in an interview that the new investment would be used to further expand the company’s reach to students outside of the United States, and that it would extend the company’s “runway” to try new experiments.

So far the secret to bringing in revenue, or what Mr. Levin called a “product-market fit,” has been professional development. The company has created a series of courses that add up to mini-degrees that students can earn quickly, and pay a small fee to certify that they successfully completed them. “It’s mostly people in their 20s and 30s who are interested in learning more skills and making themselves prepared for better jobs,” said Mr. Levin.

[full text here.]