Just a year old, the online education startup Coursera is poised for a big growth spurt fueled by $43 million in venture capital, it announced Wednesday.
The Mountain View-based company is a dominant player in a rapidly evolving and competitive market without a clear business model. Since its launch in April 2012, the company has teamed with dozens of universities to offer about 400 college-level courses for free on its platform. A ticker on Coursera's home page boasts the enrollment of more than 4 million students, or "Courserians."
The latest infusion of cash -- roughly twice the amount it received last year -- could lead to even faster growth in the United States and internationally.
Coursera's plans for the money include developing mobile apps to let students without regular access to high-speed Internet take the course offline; translating more of its courses into other languages; creating more group projects; offering more classes for possible college credit on a paid, student identity-verifying "signature track"; and developing online tools for professors to incorporate in their face-to-face classes, said Daphne Koller, Coursera's co-founder and co-CEO.
The company's opportunity is the greatest in parts of the world where demand for education vastly exceeds the number of available seats, Koller said in an interview Monday. "They're going to have to leapfrog brick-and-mortar education in the same way that they leapfrogged landlines and went to cellphones," she said.
Investors include venture capitalist Yuri Milner, GSV Capital, Laureate Education, Learn Capital and International Finance Corp., the investment arm of World Bank.
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