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Online learning is ‘here to stay’: Coursera shares soar in its public debut

The online learning platform's highly anticipated IPO opened 18% above its initial target.

Online learning is ‘here to stay’: Coursera shares soar in its public debut

Daphne Koller, Jeff Maggioncalda and Andrew Ng ring the opening bell.

Photo: Coursera

Coursera's market debut is proof that the future of education is online. The company went public Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, opening 18% above its initial target of $33 per share. It closed the day up 36% at $45, giving the online learning platform a market cap around $5.1 billion.

In 2017, Jeff Maggioncalda became Coursera's chief executive. Before then, he served as founding CEO of Financial Engines Inc., an online retirement advice platform, that he also took public. He was drawn to Coursera because of its size, and pointed to the growing need for the platform's services as the perfect catalyst for going public now.

"This is another financing event," he told Protocol. "We have to make sure that [Coursera] is resourced to provide our products and services. We don't know what the new normal is going to look like, but we believe online learning is going to stick around for individuals, governments and universities."

By working with more than 200 universities and industry partners, Coursera offers self-paced learning content and certificates at a cheaper cost than traditional four-year colleges. Prices start around $9,000 to complete a bachelor's or master's degree. It has around 77 million users, with 3.6 million paying for at least one course. Because the coursework is online, it allows flexibility for students to learn at their own pace. Around 80% of its user base is outside the U.S., in large part from India, Mexico, Brazil and China.

Coursera generated $294 million in revenue in 2020, up 59% from the year prior. Last year, about two-thirds of the company's total revenue was generated from consumers taking courses and working to obtain industry certifications.

"The courses on Coursera come from great educators with great brands," he said. Those brands include Google, IBM, Facebook and Salesforce. "They're also creating courses that are not just content-based, but [users] also gain professional certificates and specializations that can help advance their career — and that's what sets aside from other platforms that just show videos."

Post-IPO, Maggioncalda is looking to continue to grow Coursera's reach and "to provide the best service for customers and operate differently than our competitors."

"The truth is we all will not go back to offices, we all will not go back to campuses. And so, online work and online learning —among other things — are here to stay. And we believe our job to meet those individuals and institutions embracing online learning will be bigger than ever," Maggioncalda said.

The metaverse is coming, and Robinhood's IPO is here

Plus, what we learned from Big Tech's big quarter.

Image: Roblox

On this episode of the Source Code podcast: First, a few takeaways from another blockbuster quarter in the tech industry. Then, Janko Roettgers joins the show to discuss Big Tech's obsession with the metaverse and the platform war that seems inevitable. Finally, Ben Pimentel talks about Robinhood's IPO, and the company's crazy route to the public markets.

For more on the topics in this episode:

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

After a year and a half of living and working through a pandemic, it's no surprise that employees are sending out stress signals at record rates. According to a 2021 study by Indeed, 52% of employees today say they feel burnt out. Over half of employees report working longer hours, and a quarter say they're unable to unplug from work.

The continued swell of reported burnout is a concerning trend for employers everywhere. Not only does it harm mental health and well-being, but it can also impact absenteeism, employee retention and — between the drain on morale and high turnover — your company culture.

Crisis management is one thing, but how do you permanently lower the temperature so your teams can recover sustainably? Companies around the world are now taking larger steps to curb burnout, with industry leaders like LinkedIn, Hootsuite and Bumble shutting down their offices for a full week to allow all employees extra time off. The CEO of Okta, worried about burnout, asked all employees to email him their vacation plans in 2021.

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Stella Garber
Stella Garber is Trello's Head of Marketing. Stella has led Marketing at Trello for the last seven years from early stage startup all the way through its acquisition by Atlassian in 2017 and beyond. Stella was an early champion of remote work, having led remote teams for the last decade plus.

Facebook wants to be like Snapchat

Facebook is looking to make posts disappear, Google wants to make traffic reports more accurate, and more patents from Big Tech.

Facebook has ephemeral posts on its mind.

Image: Protocol

Welcome to another week of Big Tech patents. Google wants to make traffic reports more accurate, Amazon wants to make voice assistants more intelligent, Microsoft wants to make scheduling meetings more convenient, and a ton more.

As always, remember that the big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future

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Karyne Levy

Karyne Levy ( @karynelevy) is the West Coast editor at Protocol. Before joining Protocol, Karyne was a senior producer at Scribd, helping to create the original content program. Prior to that she was an assigning editor at NerdWallet, a senior tech editor at Business Insider, and the assistant managing editor at CNET, where she also hosted Rumor Has It for CNET TV. She lives outside San Francisco with her wife, son and lots of pets.

Protocol | China

China’s edtech crackdown isn’t what you think. Here’s why.

It's part of an attempt to fix education inequality and address a looming demographic crisis.

In the past decade, China's private tutoring market has expanded rapidly as it's been digitized and bolstered by capital.

Photo: Getty Images

Beijing's strike against the private tutoring and ed tech industry has rattled the market and led observers to try to answer one big question: What is Beijing trying to achieve?

Sweeping policy guidelines issued by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party on July 24 and the State Council now mandate that existing private tutoring companies register as nonprofit organizations. Extracurricular tutoring companies will be banned from going public. Online tutoring agencies will be subject to regulatory approval.

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a reporter with Protocol | China. She has spent six years covering China from inside and outside its borders. Previously, she was a fellow at Asia Society's ChinaFile and a Beijing-based producer for CNN. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. Shen Lu is a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, a community serving and elevating Chinese professionals in the global media industry.

It’s soul-destroying and it uses DRM, therefore Peloton is tech

"I mean, the pedals go around if you turn off all the tech, but Peloton isn't selling a pedaling product."

Is this tech? Or is it just a bike with a screen?

Image: Peloton and Protocol

One of the breakout hits from the pandemic, besides Taylor Swift's "Folklore," has been Peloton. With upwards of 5.4 million members as of March and nearly $1.3 billion in revenue that quarter, a lot of people are turning in their gym memberships for a bike or a treadmill and a slick-looking app.

But here at Protocol, it's that slick-looking app, plus all the tech that goes into it, that matters. And that's where things got really heated during our chat this week. Is Peloton tech? Or is it just a bike with a giant tablet on it? Can all bikes be tech with a little elbow grease?

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Karyne Levy

Karyne Levy ( @karynelevy) is the West Coast editor at Protocol. Before joining Protocol, Karyne was a senior producer at Scribd, helping to create the original content program. Prior to that she was an assigning editor at NerdWallet, a senior tech editor at Business Insider, and the assistant managing editor at CNET, where she also hosted Rumor Has It for CNET TV. She lives outside San Francisco with her wife, son and lots of pets.

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