The fast-growing online education service Coursera today announced that it has raised a $49.5 million Series C funding round led by New Enterprise Associates. Other investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and International Finance Corporation. Times Internet Limited (TIL), which owns the Times of India and other media properties, also participated in this round.
In a somewhat unusual move, Coursera also announced that it expects a second closing of this round in the fall that will bring the total funding to $60 million. GSV Asset Management and Learn Capital will participate in this second closing.
Coursera did the same thing with its Series B round back in 2013, and the company’s CEO Rick Levin tells me that the reason the company decided to announce this first closing now was “a matter of convenience.” Some of its partners simply needed a bit more time because they were in the process of raising new funds themselves, for example.
The company says it currently offers 1,100 courses to almost 15 million users. Half of these learners are looking to gain new skills to “advance their careers and livelihoods” and 1 million of the company’s users are currently in China. Given its fast international growth trajectory, it’s no surprise that the company expects to use the new funds to fuel its international growth (as well as to expand its content offerings).
While 98 percent of the company’s staff is currently in Silicon Valley, the largest number of its users are outside of North America. Its largest international markets are currently China and India with about a million users each, followed by Brazil and then all of Latin America.
With Times Internet, Coursera now has a strong partner in India that can provide it with plenty of marketing power thanks to that company’s vast media portfolio.
Coursera’s CEO also stressed that a lot of the new funds will go toward building out the service’s product. “Internationalization is high on the agenda, but also continued product innovation,” he told me. “We’re doing interesting technology and are constantly improving the product and doing so for an important social purpose.”
He noted that he thinks Coursera’s platform is “the best in the field,” but he also acknowledged that he wants to improve the way the company does assessments and provide better learner interactions.
Levin tells me that the company also plans to use this additional runway to test alternative monetization strategies. Its recently launched multi-course paid specializations program, which focuses on users who already have jobs and want to advance their business and technical skills, is currently one of its main revenue sources. The company plans to launch a number of new specializations soon and is looking at new ways to work with industry partners to create these courses.