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Coursera Co-Founder Daphe Koller To Join Alphabet’s Calico

Daphne Koller will leave her day-to-day responsibilities at Coursera in order to pursue a new challenge: she is joining Calico, the Alphabet subsidiary.

A couple of years ago, Andrew Ng, the other co-founder of Coursera, left to join Baidu. However, he did stay on in the role of chairman of the Board.

Daphne Koller recently announced in a blog post that she is set to make a similar move; she is leaving Coursera to join Calico, a subsidiary of Alphabet (Google’s parent company). Although she will leave her day-to-day role at Coursera, she will stay on as co-chair of the Board, a role she will share with Andrew Ng.

Here is what Daphne said about the move:

It is time for me to turn to another critical challenge – the development of machine learning and its application to improving human health. This field has been a passion of mine since 2001, when I first started working on it at Stanford. Machine learning is now in the midst of an important transformation, as a variety of high-throughput technologies developed over the past decade are providing unprecedented amounts of data that, when combined with the right analytic methods, can enable novel insights and the development of new therapies for human disease

— Daphne Koller 

There is a common thread: the current MOOC revolution was kicked off by three Stanford professors — Sebastian Thrun, Andrew Ng, and Daphne Koller — who all belonged to Stanford’s cutting-edge AI Lab.

AI and machine learning are really hot right now. Just this month, Apple bought the machine learning company, Turi, for $200 million. The company was started by Dr. Carlos Guestrin. He teaches a machine learning Specialization on Coursera, and he got his PhD from Stanford while working under Daphne Koller.

It’s only natural for those three to feel the pull back to their original field of expertise. Even Sebastian Thrun is rumored to be the president of a flying car startup funded by Google’s Larry Page. Thrun recently stepped down from the role of CEO to president at Udacity.

With these three MOOC pioneers moving on, there will be new leadership, vision, and (hopefully) positive advancements in the MOOC space.

Dhawal Shah Profile Image

Dhawal Shah

Dhawal is the CEO of Class Central, the most popular search engine and review site for online courses and MOOCs. He has completed over a dozen MOOCs and has written over 200 articles about the MOOC space, including contributions to TechCrunch, EdSurge, Quartz, and VentureBeat.

Comments 3

  1. Raymond Berger

    I feel like this isn’t a good sign to Coursera. They’ll only keep adding more paywalls. It’s a shame because they have such good content.

    • Turadg Aleahmad

      When you say “not a good sign to Coursera” do you mean it’s a sign that they’ll find a way to derive revenue from “such good content” so that they can continue to provide it?

      Coursera and its university partners have provided a tremendous learning resource in the world and always offered it for free to those without financial means. If it doesn’t earn money from those who have it to pay, it won’t be around to provide it to anyone.

      Some of the people who complain about Coursera charging definitely have the means to pay for the valuable education. I hope they remember that their money helps sustain the overall mission to provide universal access to the world’s best education.

      • Raymond Berger

        Close, I mean they’ll find a way to maximize revenue from the content so they can increase profits. I get it, Coursera is a for profit organization and there is nothing wrong with that.
        I don’t know many people who complain about the prices but I’m sure some of them could pay if they wanted.

        I’ve been following Coursera for years and have seen how they’ve changed.
        They took away statements of accomplishment, which makes sense as they shifted toward profitability and attracting new schools.
        Then they stopped letting you submit quizzes/assignments if you didn’t pay, which makes sense for stuff that’s manually graded. But why for stuff that’s auto graded?
        They recently removed many classes that were previously free as they moved to a new system. Yes, it cost money to host them but that’s very little compared to the cost to produce them.
        Specializations seemed pretty neat but some of them seem to be split up into that way without any good reason. For example the Introduction to Software Product Management course is $50 for less than an hour of someone just telling you what to expect in the next four courses. And you have to do that course if you want to participate in the capstone.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love Coursera and I hope they can stay profitable but I also want them to make sure they are producing quality over quantity and stay true to their mission.


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