Adam joined edX back in October 2017 as the COO and President. He came from a 13-year stint at Tripadvisor (it’s like Class Central, but for travel) where he was Senior Vice President of Global Product and a member of the executive team.
This move is similar to how in 2016 Udacity promoted its then-president and COO Vishal Makhijani to CEO to take over from Udacity co-founder Sebastian Thrun.
Edx, Coursera, and Udacity were all founded within a few months of each other by professors from Stanford and MIT. Over time we have seen MOOC providers like Coursera and Udacity replace their founder CEOs with a professional CEO, while the founders moved into the role of Board Chairperson. In fact, those founders have all gone on to start their own companies.
With this move, a question arises. Will Anant Agarwal stay on? I believe so.
Anant will likely keep being the public face of the company as he has been doing over the years.
It is quite common for Anant to speak at numerous conferences and occasional TV interviews. I have bumped into him multiple times at different conferences over the years including smaller research conferences like the Learning With MOOCs (LWMOOCS) conference last week where both of us were lightning speakers.
It is rare for CEOs of other major MOOC providers to be present at these academic conferences and even rarer for them to stay around and mingle with the attendees, which I have seen Anant do on multiple occasions.
Anant’s stellar academic credentials and extensive network will be crucial for edX as it continues to launch more online degrees in partnership with universities.
Adam was originally hired to “assume the day-to-day management and oversight of edX’s operations, contribute to edX’s strategy and growth”. His responsibilities might expand after being promoted to co-CEO, but essentially I think Adam will continue to focus on these areas.