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June 2, 2015

Udemy – a Transformational Company

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Udemy announces $65M financing led by Stripes Group with participation from Norwest Venture Partners and other investors.


Today Udemy, the leading online education marketplace offering 30,000 full-length courses by over 17,000 instructors in over 80 different countries, announced a $65M financing round. Udemy has over 7 million consumers and hundreds of corporations using Udemy to learn new skills in a wide variety of subjects including web development, social media marketing, and many unique courses such as Bikram yoga, the basics of the blockchain, growth hacking 101, and even Greek mythology and surfing!

In February, the company also announced that their top 10 instructors have earned $17M in earnings on Udemy, and top instructor, Rob Percival exceeded $2.8M in earnings. Udemy has been growing at around 200% per year. By all accounts, these are all very impressive metrics, which remind us of other network-effect businesses I have been involved in both as an investor and operator/entrepreneur; these include eBay, PayPal, Lending Club, and RetailMeNot.

What sets Udemy apart from all other incredibly successful high-profile network effect marketplaces is its potential for game-changing impact on one of the largest problems our society faces today. To me, this problem is income inequality due to the ever-expanding skills gap. It is no mystery that low-skill jobs are disappearing around the world largely due to rapid improvements in automation and technology. Think of the largest employer in the United States, the US Postal service. The emergence of email and other technologies have bankrupted the organization, yet we are seeing very little effort to retrain those capable workers in order to “pivot” them into new careers.

By not addressing the issues head-on, we are creating an even wider skills gap between the existing available workforce and the available jobs. For only $20-$100 per course, Udemy allows these folks to get the proper training to gain the skills necessary to close the skills gap and get a new job. It’s really not a stretch to say that Udemy gives you the chance to realize the American dream.

Examples of courses that could help retrain these workers to capitalize on today’s demand-based economy include:

– Be a Richer and Higher Rated Uber, Lyft, or Sidecar Driver
– Career Makeover Bootcamp: Make Money and Get Hired

There are many other courses that allow students to increase their earning potential and/or teach them how to invest, purchase a home for the first time, or invest in investment property. These are important classes that can, to some degree, close the income gap.

This is why I am so passionate about Udemy and believe that not only can they create a multi-billion dollar public company, but the company has the potential to change the world. I am so proud of the mission and the team behind this company.