Udacity Turns 5, by Sebastian Thrun

I can’t believe it. It’s been an exhilarating five years. Today, Udacity turns five!

Udacity started with a phone call to Peter Norvig. I wondered if it made sense to take our Stanford class CS223 “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” online, and make it available to all people in this world. Peter was enthusiastic, and along with my co-founders David Stavens and Mike Sokolsky, we made it happen. This wasn’t the first MOOC, but it was the one that put Massive Open Online Courses on the map. In a few weeks, we gathered 160,000 students. Our course taught Artificial Intelligence to more people than all other AI professors combined at the time.

Fast forward to today. Udacity is now rapidly becoming the place to go for lifelong learning, where millions are learning the latest skills that Silicon Valley has to offer. Tech giants like AT&T, Google, Facebook, Amazon, GitHub, and MongoDB are using us to reach any willing learner in the world. And companies are eagerly hiring our graduates. We have educated more students than many four-year colleges. And recently, we started placing our graduates in jobs in the tech industry and beyond, based on their Nanodegree program credentials.

Our fifth anniversary is a great moment of reflection. To many, education is a numbers game. It’s about tuition, graduation rates, enrollment. To me, education is all about people. Every time I receive a thank-you note from a student, a letter on how we changed a person’s career, I am in tears. I have this very deep belief that if we open up high-quality education, if we truly democratize it, if we give every human being on this planet a fair chance, we will make a huge difference. Today, high-quality education is a privilege of the few. Our vision at Udacity is to make high-quality education a basic human right. If we do this, I truly believe we can double the world’s GDP.

I look back at the past five years and feel we did the impossible. We created a company that allows eager learners of all geographies and all ages to engage in meaningful education, and to live their lives’ dreams.  

First and foremost, Udacity is a story of our amazing students. Many have stayed with us through the years, assisted us in improving our offerings, and helped us spread the word. I really want to thank every single student who has been willing to trust us as a source of learning. Udacity would not exist without you, and you are the focus of our work.  And yes, every single student who discovers their dream career through Udacity makes me believe life is worth living.

It’s also the story of our partners like AT&T, Google, and so many others who are bravely standing with us to redefine education, with the singular vision of giving every human being in this world an equal chance. We are humbled by the level of dedication and friendship that has developed over the past five years.

Finally, Udacity is our team—a team that is united in the vision to make higher education accessible to everyone in the world. The amount of sweat and dedication of every single member of the Udacity family is beyond belief and I am grateful and inspired by you every single day.

Thank you students, thank you partners, and thank you Udacity!

Udacity has a new ___!

Udacity was started with the mission to democratize education. I wanted it to be the place for people to get an education to get a job to change their lives. Today, we have achieved that with millions enrolled in our free courses and more students in our Nanodegree programs than many four-year colleges.

Now, it’s time to scale our operations rapidly and begin the next chapter of Udacity. Three years ago, I recruited Vishal Makhijani to Udacity. Vish had most recently served as Zynga’s COO and SVP, overseeing some of its rapid growth in the gaming industry. He had also spent years at Yahoo scaling their operations. When Vish joined Udacity, we just started tossing around the idea of Nanodegree credentials and working closely with Silicon Valley tech giants. Since then, Vish has been an amazing partner in building our product and business in the United States and overseas so that we could raise $105 million in our most recent round.

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A New Job Guarantee

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In 2010, we started Google x to pursue moon shots, moving impossible ideas into reality to change people’s lives forever. In education, the biggest moon shot is connecting learning to jobs. Get an education to get a job to change your life.

Today, we are launching a new program at Udacity, called Nanodegree Plus. Earn a Nanodegree credential and we will guarantee you a job within six months of graduation, or give you 100% of your tuition back.  

Over the last 18 months, our Nanodegree programs have begun to emerge as the place to go to learn technical skills to get a new job or advance a career. They are backed by companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, GitHub and AT&T among others—teaching students the latest technical skills for today’s workforce. Already, Udacity graduates are working at companies like Google, Nest, Accenture, AT&T, Amazon, Salesforce, Rakuten, Verizon, Goldman Sachs, Intuit and many others in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Over the past few months, we have actively placed Udacity students into jobs. Some have joined Udacity, others have taken jobs at our partner companies. While these initial placements were done quietly, today we are formally launching a job guarantee to eligible US students.

Initially, our new Nanodegree Plus program will be available for Android Developer,” “iOS Developer,” “Machine Learning Engineer” and “Senior Web Developer,” at $299 per month starting today. Students enrolling in these programs will work closely with our Career Services team, and enroll in our new Career Advisor program and Career Concierge services. In time, we plan to roll out the program to other countries and other Nanodegree tracks.

Today’s job landscape is changing with new types of jobs being created and job tenure shortening. The new Nanodegree Plus program offers students the latest technology skills for jobs that are most in demand today, like Android and iOS developers, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional education and a job guarantee at the end.


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Introducing the Android Developer Nanodegree

At Udacity, we are all about democratizing education to give people the skills they need to get a new job or advance their careers in technology. Today, with Android at one billion active users worldwide and growing, the demand for Android developers is staggering — from Palo Alto to Paris to Penang.

Introducing the new Android Developer Nanodegree, built by Google. via udacity.com

Given the remarkable rise of the Android platform worldwide, we are thrilled to be announcing the industry’s first Android Developer Nanodegree at Google I/O today. The new Nanodegree was built by Google with their curriculum, subject matter experts and developers to the standards they expect of Android developers. Google has committed $4 million and thousands of hours of developer time to this effort. The Android Developer Nanodegree, which takes 9-12 months to complete at $200 a month, will cover everything from fundamentals to advanced development skills, as well as Google Play services and Material Design. Real-life projects, like designing a media player and using Google’s services to build apps, will be graded by our global network of 300 code reviewers.  

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