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Coursera Research 8 months 6 days ago #31

  • dsamraj
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Coursera is an online higher – education platform based in Mountain View, California [1]. The firm was founded in 2012 by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng who at the time were computer science professors at Stanford. [2]

Popular Courses

Coursera’s most popular courses in 2020 varied across many disciplines. Coursera’s #1 course in 2020 was “The Science of Well-Being” offered by Laurie Santos, a professor at Yale University. Coursera’s #2 course was “Covid-19 Contract Tracing” offered by John Hopkins University. A surge in coding skills was also seen in 2020 with the courses “Machine Learning” and “Programming for Everybody” came in 3rd and 4th. [6]

Shifting Leadership

Unlike most startups neither founder is currently CEO. In 2014 Richard Levin was named as CEO [3]. Previously Levin had served as president of Yale University for 20 years. [4]. 3 years later, in 2017 leadership changed hands again and Jeff Maggioncalda was named CEO. Prior to being named CEO, Jeff built a fin-tech firm known as Financial Engines. [3]s This shifting leadership can be seen as a positive in the fact that fresh perspectives are brough into the company but also a negative as there is increased instability within the company. Often new leadership requires new processes and methods for carrying out tasks.

Market Potential

In terms of market potential, while it is hard to determine a concrete number as the higher education market is so large, Maggioncalda has estimated the market to have a total valuation of $2T. [2] Due to the COVID pandemic an unprecedented amount of growth has occurred in the online higher education space with an approximate 400% growth rate in enrollments in 2020 year over year. [2] While there is certainly a chance for good growth in 2021 the space, there is also a possibility that the online higher education bubble may burst as vaccinations start rolling out and education shifts back in person. Certainly, the market is going to be extremely volatile in the next few years and interesting to watch.

Competitors and Partnerships

In terms of competition Coursera currently leads the space with an estimate revenue of $170M. [1]. It’s top 3 competitors are Udemi, Lynda and edX with Udemi being the closest. Udemi has an estimated revenue of $100M. [1] Continued growth for any of these companies rests on making key partnerships with top colleges, and companies around the world. With regards to key partnerships last month Coursera partnered with ImmixGroup to assist in online education for existing federal workers looking to learn hard technical skills [5]. Such a partnership may prove to be a competitive advantage that Coursera has against its competitors.


Coursera’s most recent funding round occurred in July 2020 with a cap raise of $130M. Venture capital firms NEA, Kleiner Perkins, and G- Squared were the major investors in this round with NEA leading. This round valued Coursera at $2.5B. To date Coursera has raised $464M. [2]


Coursera is a key player in an extremely volatile market that has experienced record growth in the past year. No doubt Coursera will be an interesting company to watch if it follows through and pursues an IPO in 2021.

Articles for Further Reading (and used in part to create this post)

[1]: (What Competitor): whatcompetitors.com/coursera-competitors-alternatives/
[2]: (Forbes): www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2020/07/...ion/?sh=5e9bc38b688f
[3] (EdSurge): www.edsurge.com/news/2017-06-13-new-ceo-...l-tech-not-higher-ed
[4] (Coursera): blog.coursera.org/leadership/
[5] (MeriTalk): www.meritalk.com/articles/coursera-servi...to-gsa-mas-contract/
[6] (FastCompany): www.fastcompany.com/90584981/what-course...es-reveal-about-2020  

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