Udacity: Be In Demand

Today marks one year and one month since our first students started in the Udacity Nanodegree program—credentials designed to give individuals the skills they need to be in demand for jobs that changes their ability to contribute to society and improves their economic future.

In the last year, we have had over 11,000 students enrolled in the Nanodegree program across 168 countries and have recently hit our 1,000th graduate with Momen Zakaria, an Egyptian living in Saudi Arabia. Students are getting new jobs like Kelly Marchisio who landed an engineering position at Google while working on her Nanodegree. Over the past 12 months, we have seen strong and sustainable revenue growth, which enabled us to hit profitability earlier this year.

To scale the business, we have secured financing of $105 million in our Series D round from marquee global investors. The round was led by international media, services and education company Bertelsmann with Scotland’s Baillie Gifford, Emerson Collective and Google Ventures joining as new investors. Existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures, and Drive Capital also participated in the round. As a part of the round, Kay Krafft, CEO Bertelsmann Education Group will join our board. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.This latest round values our company at $1 billion, making it an exciting yet humbling moment in our history.

Our mission at Udacity is to democratize education making it affordable and accessible to billions of people around the globe to get the jobs they want to improve their lives. While we have made great strides, we have a long way to go in reaching our goal. As our CEO Sebastian Thrun likes to say, world-class education should not be limited to the one percent but be available to everyone. With the new funding, our passionate team, strong partners, and most of all, our amazing students, we are on our way to reaching the 99 percent.

Nanodegrees and Beyond

Udacity’s mission is democratizing education

At Udacity, our mission is to democratize education, making it accessible and affordable to anyone who wants to get a new job or advance a career.

The world demand for computing skills is increasing at a historically unprecedented rate with supply unable to keep up, regardless of the best efforts by academia, companies and governments. This phenomenon is not limited to Silicon Valley alone. Technology is transforming every industry, be it food, retail, healthcare or transportation. Companies from Columbus to Cologne and Sao Paolo to Sapporo are hungry for technical talent.

In our effort to bring education to a greater number of professionals, we are excited to have closed a financing round of $35 million with investors from around the globe. The lead investor in this financing is Drive Capital, a fund with a large presence in the American Heartland. Mark Kvamme, founder of Drive Capital, will join our board. We are fortunate to have Bertelsmann in Germany; Recruit in Japan and Valor Capital in Brazil join us to further expand our presence for students around the globe. Cox Enterprises is also participating in this financing. Our partners from the start, technology stalwarts Andreessen Horowitz and Charles River Ventures with Peter Levine and George Zachary complete the round.

The new investment will mainly be used to double down on our work with nanodegrees, a new type of credential for students to gain skills recognized by employers around the world. In fact, today we are opening our first nanodegree, built with AT&T, to an initial group of students. In time, the program will be open to everyone.

We currently have close to three million enrollments from 119 countries for our classes thatare built with industry leaders like Google, Facebook, AT&T, Cloudera and MongoDB amongothers. These classes, available on any device anywhere, come with personalized coachingand a project to demonstrate mastery of skills — something no other company does today. We often say at Udacity, we are built by industry for industry.

In many ways, we are still at the start of our journey. With the strong interest and passion for learning we are seeing from students and partners, we are fully committed to bring education to millions of people to help them get jobs and advance their lifelong learning. When a store clerk goes from shelving cans to getting a job in technology, raising his standard of living, because of a Udacity class, we know we are on the right path. As we march towards more of these, we want to thank the Udacity team, our partners, investors and most importantly, our students, for joining us on this audacious journey.

Vish Makhijani