“Students First” is Udacity’s mantra. It’s the first thing you see when you walk into our Silicon Valley headquarters. With our international expansion, our aim is to best serve our students to be in demand around the world. We took our first step last year in India, and today, we are launching in China.
Chinese companies made up 4 of the top 10 internet companies globally by market cap and 3 of the top 10 companies by revenue in 2015. There are an estimated 8 million developers working here already. And with continued high growth in Internet companies, together with more traditional industries in banking, healthcare, logistics, and manufacturing adopting technology, the demand for developers is expected to grow to 15-20 million workers by 2020.
To meet this demand, we are opening access to over 100 free, open online courses developed by leading Silicon Valley companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Github, and Cloudera to 1.3 billion people in China under our local brand and domain: 优达学城 at youdaxue.com.
In addition to our free, open online courses from Silicon Valley’s experts, we have localized some of our most popular Nanodegree programs—Beginning iOS, Android Developer, and Machine Learning—such that our Chinese students will also have access to coaching, a student community, and 1-on-1 reviews provided in Chinese by our local team as well as Chinese-speaking experts from Silicon Valley and around the world. We are working with companies in China, including launch partners JD.com, Youku-Tudou, Sina.com, Amazon AWS, Didi, and Google Android, to build great curriculum and customized projects for our Nanodegree programs in mobile, web, cloud, big data and machine learning technologies. Our goal is to ensure Chinese graduates from our Nanodegree programs will have the skills to succeed and be in demand at these top Chinese tech companies along with opportunities around the world.
On this front, we are excited that Didi Kuadi also announced the launch of a global machine learning hackathon with a prize of US$100,000 to identify a better passenger-driver matching algorithm… and perhaps more importantly, to identify great talent. They will be working with Udacity to promote machine learning at universities throughout China and hope to not only find and implement a better algorithm for their business but build a great talent ecosystem on both sides of the Pacific.
Over the next few months, we will continuously roll out more Chinese Nanodegree and course offerings. As a special offer, we will offer all of our Nanodegree programs with a free 1-month trial at launch in order to learn more from students and improve our product during this beta period. Regular pricing for Nanodegree programs will be RMB 980 per month. As with our global Nanodegree offerings, we will refund half the tuition back to students upon graduation. The program, which takes an average of 6-9 months, is designed to give students a boost in income with a new job, or a promotion, at a fraction of the cost or time it would take offline.
We have already seen the early impact and I’ve been inspired by our pioneer students in China who have achieved so much already. For example, Li Xinyang, who originally studied Economics but changed careers to become a Front-end Developer after taking Udacity’s program and now works at Rolls-Royce in Singapore; or Wang Zhe, an Electrical Engineer by training who has now advanced his career into software implementation at an online payment company and acts as one of our Udacity code reviewers; or Li Minjun who went from front-end to full stack developer through Udacity’s program. Each of these students has seen advances in their careers as as result of the hard work of learning-by-doing and the projects and skills they’ve built.
Since arriving in China last Fall, I’ve already learned so much from our partners, our first students, and from our new team members on the ground. We’re eager to build new features and products to best serve the market here, and potentially even bring learnings and innovations back to our team in California. Throughout, we remain focused on and inspired by our students. Students First! 学生至上！