Udemy-Online-Education-Learning

Popular marketplace Udemy that offers around 150,000 different online learning courses from business analytics to ukulele lessons has picked up a $50 million from a single investor, Benesse Holdings. This is the Japan-based educational publisher, which is also Udemy’s partner in the country. According to the agency, the investment was made at a $2 billion pre-money valuation.

This investment is a big jump since Udemy last raised a staggering $60 million round in 2016 that valued it at around $710 million. With this round, Udemy raised around $200 million in funding, with other investors including Stripes, Naspers (now Proses), Learn Capital, Insight Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, and several others.

The plan for the raising is to use it for funding and expand the various aspects of Udemy’s businesses. It will expand its San Francisco headquarters as well as grow its offices in Denver, Colorado, Dublin, Ireland, India, Brazil and Turkey. In recent years, Udemy also has expanded to enterprise services, where it collaborated with companies like Adidas, General Mills, Toyota, Wipro, Pinterest, and Lyft and others to develop and administer subscription-based professional development courses.

Udemy will also look at improving the process of the deliverance of courses from 57,000-strong network of instructors, and also expand to new areas. The bigger picture is that Udemy will be investing to address better what Udemy president Darren Shimkus said is the biggest challenge not just for the company, but for the global workforce overall:

‘The biggest challenge for learners is to figure out what skills are emerging, what they can do to compete best in the global market. We’re in a world that’s changing so quickly that skills that were valued just three or four years ago are no longer relevant. People are confused and don’t know what they should be learning. That’s a challenge that also stands for businesses, he added, which are trying to work out what he described as their “three to five-year human capital roadmap’, Shimkus said.

Udemy also has a vision of expanding to international operations, starting with Japan but also venturing into other markets where Udemy has seen strong growth, like Brazil and India. ‘We’ve worked closely with Benesse for several years, and this investment is a testament to the strength of our relationship and the opportunity ahead of us,’ said Gregg Coccari, CEO of Udemy, in a statement. ‘Udemy is on a mission to improve lives through learning, and so is Benesse. 2020 will be a milestone year where we serve millions of more students and enable thousands of businesses and governments to upskill their employees. This growth wouldn’t be possible without our expert instructors who partner with us every step of the way as we build this business.’

Benesse’s business covers providing instructional materials for children to courses for adults, both online and in-person training centers. Udemy has been developing content alongside Benesse both in Japanese as well as English, Shimkus said, targeting both consumer and business markets. “Access to the latest workplace skills is crucial for success everywhere, including Japan, and Udemy is the world’s largest marketplace enabling professional transformation. With this partnership, we envision a world where more people can continue to learn continuously throughout their lives,” said Tamotsu Adachi, Representative Director, President and CEO of Benesse Holdings Inc.  “Udemy and Benesse are incredibly synergistic businesses. This investment is the next progression in our business relationship and demonstrates our confidence in what we can accomplish together.”

Udemy’s expansion comes at a time when online education overall has generally continued to grow.