The venture arm of Naspers Ltd. has invested $60 million in Udemy, an online marketplace for education.
For the unfamiliar, Naspers is a Johannesburg-listed tech and media firm that operates robust online classifieds businesses in emerging markets, with a strong presence in India.
Udemy CEO Dennis Yang said that after closing a $65 million Series D round of funding in the spring of 2015, the edtech startup wasn’t actively fundraising and still had plenty of cash in the bank for growth.
Udemy originally sought to work with Naspers in partnership, somehow, to aid international growth the CEO said. The follow-on funding round resulted from other commercial discussions.
As a platform, Udemy now offers 40,000 user-generated courses in 80 different languages to “lifelong learners.” It does not offer courses that count towards a college degree. But it does offer some corporate training services.
According to a company statement, Udemy recently surpassed 11 million students and 20,000 instructors worldwide. Some students take many courses, and Udemy has also recently surpassed 50 million enrollments across 190 countries.
Naspers Ventures’ Larry Illg said he wanted to invest in education tech– this is Naspers’ second recent deal in the industry, after investing $15 million in the homework helper app Brainly earlier this month– because:
“Education is important to every economy in the world. But it hasn’t had its internet moment yet. The industry has some battle scars. We have not seen high profile exits like you’ve seen in other categories, food delivery, video, whatever. But the product is reasonably consistent, everywhere. If you are teaching a great math class, it will be valuable to students anywhere.”
Yang said Udemy intends to use the funding for hiring, product development and to ramp up the number of instructors, courses and paying subscribers it adds to its platform in international markets. It intends to work with Naspers to find channel partners, and perfect its marketing or customer acquisition efforts overseas.
Udemy faces a huge number of competitors online, including education marketplace Taobao Tongxue, and Yao Ming-endorsed TutorGroup in China, and other venture-backed startups based in the U.S. but open to learners and instructors around the world like Coursera and EdX, which work with universities to develop and offer courses or apps that aim to deliver career-specific training to international users such as Lynda.com, PluralSight and many more.