Colleges & Universities

Coursera Files for IPO Amid Online Learning Boom

  • Coursera filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "COUR."
  • The education tech company saw 59% revenue growth year over year, largely due to a pandemic-induced boom in digital learning.
  • Net losses grew to more than $66 million year over year, according to documents filed with the SEC Friday.

Education tech company Coursera filed its IPO prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, and plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COUR."

The Mountain View, California-based company offers individuals access to online courses and degrees from top universities, a business that boomed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Coursera has made the CNBC Disruptor 50 list multiple times and most recently ranked No. 4 on the 2020 list.

The nine-year-old company brought in roughly $293 million in revenue for the fiscal year ended December 31 — a 59% growth rate from 2019, according to the filing. Net losses widened by roughly $20 million year over year, reaching $66.8 million in 2020.

"Our revenue significantly increased due primarily to an increase in the number of enrollments during the Covid-19 pandemic," the company's IPO prospectus stated. "Likewise, we have experienced a significant increase in our operating costs associated with our services, primarily driven by our freemium offerings and marketing efforts. As the pandemic made remote work and online learning more widespread, it is uncertain what impact the tapering of the Covid-19  pandemic could have on our operating results."

The company said it added over 12,000 new degrees for students over the two years ended December 31, 2020 at an average acquisition cost of under $2,000.

Total registered users grew 65% year over year in 2020.

According to PitchBook data, Coursera was most recently valued at $2.5 billion.

The company was started by former Stanford University computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng. When Coursera was founded in 2012, both had spent enough time in higher education to realize that change was overdue and that online learning was a good path forward.

As of December 31, 2020, more than 150 universities offered upwards of 4,000 courses through Coursera, which features over two dozen degree programs at prices that are lower than many in-person school offerings. A bachelor's or master's degree completed through Coursera can range in cost from $9,000 to $45,000, according to the prospectus.

During the pandemic, Coursera also has partnered with more than 330 government agencies across 70 countries and 30 U.S. states and cities as part of the Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative, which helps governments offer unemployed workers free access to thousands of courses for business, technology and data science skills from companies including Amazon and Google.

It also offers a wide variety of education certificates and professional skills courses that range in price from as low as $9.99 to $99.

"While the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is severe, widespread, and continues to evolve, it has accelerated the need for online-delivered education. Both individuals and institutions have relied and are continuing to rely on online learning to navigate change and disruption," the company's IPO prospectus states.

The number of shares and price range for the proposed offering have yet to be determined. Morgan StanleyGoldman Sachs and Citigroup are listed as the lead underwriters.

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