Cours­era raises $49.5m from Times In­ter­net

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Open online ed­u­ca­tion provider Cours­era Inc. has raised $49.5 mil­lion in ven­ture fund­ing from a group of in­vestors in­clud­ing Times In­ter­net Ltd, the online arm of Ben­nett, Coleman and Co. Ltd, co­in­cid­ing with the US-based firm's plans to tap the In­dian mar­ket to grow its user base.

The latest fund­ing, the first of a third ven­ture cap­i­tal round, was led by New En­ter­prise As­so­ci­ates (NEA), one of Cours­era's orig­i­nal in­vestors. Cours­era ex­pects to raise an ad­di­tional $10.5 mil­lion to close so-called Se­ries C fund­ing at $60 mil­lion by early au­tumn, it said on Tues­day.

Ex­ist­ing in­vestors Kleiner Perkins Cau­field and By­ers and In­ter­na­tional Fi­nance Corp. also par­tic­i­pated in the latest round. NEA's man­ag­ing gen­eral part­ner Scott San­dell has taken a seat on Cours­era's board as a re­sult of the in­vest­ment. Times In­ter­net was the only new in­vestor in the cur­rent round.

Ex­ist­ing in­vestors GSV As­set Man­age­ment and Learn Cap­i­tal will take part in the sec­ond phase of the third ven­ture cap­i­tal round. Cours­era will use the funds to source new con­tent, ex­pand its global reach, and con­tinue to im­prove the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for its users. Times In­ter­net will pro­vide Cours­era mar­ket­ing, advertising and strate­gic sup­port to "build aware­ness of Cours­era in In­dia".

"Cours­era is the gold stan­dard for the emerg­ing wave of ed­u­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies," Satyan Ga­jwani, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Times In­ter­net, said in a state­ment. "We are ex­cited to bring Times In­ter­net's growth ca­pa­bil­i­ties be­hind such a strong prod­uct, and bring high qual­ity, af­ford­able dig­i­tal ed­u­ca­tion to mil­lions of In­di­ans," he added.

With one mil­lion users, In­dia ties with China as the big­gest source of online learn­ers for the mas­sive open online course (MOOC) provider af­ter its home base, the US. Close to 75% of its users are out­side the US. Emerg­ing mar­kets in Latin Amer­ica, In­dia and China are Cours­era's fastest grow­ing sec­tors. Founded in 2012, Cours­era of­fers 1,100 cour­ses to nearly 15 mil­lion users world­wide. The cour­ses are avail­able to any­one free of cost, but users will have to pay a fee to earn a cer­tifi­cate of com­ple­tion.

"We are ex­cited to sup­port the growth of this high­im­pact en­ter­prise, which is trans­form­ing lives through ac­cess to the world's best ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions," San­dell said. The strate­gic in­vest­ment by Times In­ter­net in Cours­era is part of the Times Global Part­ner ini­tia­tive, where it ties up with in­ter­na­tional dig­i­tal prop­er­ties such as Uber, Gawker Media, Huff­in­g­ton Post, Busi­ness In­sider, Advertising Age, Askmen, Col­lege Hu­mor and Life Hacker, to build lo­cal part­ner­ships.

The com­pa­nies did not dis­close the size of the in­vest­ment by Times In­ter­net or the stake it would get in Cours­era as a re­sult of the part­ner­ship.

Times In­ter­net is a sub­sidiary of Ben­nett Coleman, which pub­lishes In­dia's big­gest news­pa­pers The Times of In­dia and The Eco­nomic Times.

"In­dian learn­ers on Cours­era are uniquely fo­cused on build­ing skills in busi­ness and tech­nol­ogy that are im­me­di­ately ap­pli­ca­ble in their ca­reers more so than in any other coun­try," Rick Levin, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Cours­era, said. "The new strate­gic guid­ance from Times In­ter­net will al­low us to ex­pand aware­ness of the af­ford­able cre­den­tials avail­able on Cours­era from top univer­si­ties to any­one with an In­ter­net con­nec­tion."

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