Naspers Ventures Commits $60 Million to Udemy

(Photo: Axelle B, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Axelle B, Creative Commons)

Udemy, a global marketplace for online learning and teaching, has announced a $60 million investment from Naspers through its Naspers Ventures division.

Udemy said the funds will be put toward increasing its international efforts such as adding to its localized course content library and product offerings in order to meet the current demand for online learning that is rising worldwide. In addition, Larry Illg, CEO of Naspers Venture, will join the board of directors for Udemy.

Originally launched in San Francisco in 2010, Udemy has looked to gain momentum from the growing popularity of MOOCs, massive open online courses, through a number of courses in a variety of subjects including languages, photography, and pet care, among thousands of others, writes Paul Sawers for Venture Beat.  Users are able to find other people with an expertise in a particular topic, as well as people who are looking to learn more about a topic or gain a new skill.  Experts can make and sell their courses with the help of Udemy’s tools and market. Udemy then takes a percentage of their sales.

The company has seen a significant amount of growth over the past year, particularly involving its international market.  Udemy currently offers users access to the largest selection on online course content with over 40,000 courses in 80 languages.  Udemy boasts over 11 million students and 20,000 teachers across the globe, with 75% of its students located outside of the United States.  It has also attained over 50 million enrollments from students in over 190 countries.  While the company has not offered information pertaining to its revenue, it did say that revenue from its non-English courses was up 300%, writes Leena Rao for Fortune.

The investment is an addition to a $65 million Series D round of financing from June of last year, bringing the total amount raised by the company over $170 million.

“With two-thirds of our students and over half of our instructors located outside the U.S., Udemy has made huge strides in opening access to learning and teaching opportunities worldwide, yet we are just at the beginning of realizing the full potential of online learning,” explained Dennis Yang, CEO of Udemy, in a press release. “We’ve reached a critical juncture in our global economy where everyone needs to embrace lifelong learning and take initiative for up-skilling themselves.”

A number of online learning startups have raised large sums of money over the last year, with Duolingo gaining $45 million and Coursera pulling in $49.5 million.  Meanwhile, Math Crunch, a tutoring startup focusing on math, raised around $4 million, which it used to expand its offerings into the science section under a new brand.

Many of these companies have been looking to increase their offerings in international markets, where great opportunity to teach skills exists.  In just this past year alone, Udacity branched out with localized versions of its technical degree programs, known as nanodegrees, in India and China.

Udemy differs from these companies in that it offers users a certificate upon completion of a course rather than moving toward an alternative method for attaining a traditional degree.

Kristin Decarr

Kristin Decarr

Kristin Decarr

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