In my Udacity’s 2017: Year in Review, I mentioned that out of all the MOOC providers Udacity probably had the best 2017. Early this week, Udacity gave us an indication of how well they are doing.
Udacity made a stunning announcement – the company’s revenues touched $70M in 2017, up from $29M in 2016. Revenue grew across the board in “consumer, business, government and non-profit customers and partners,” according to Udacity CFO Nikhil Abraham. Udacity still isn’t profitable, but it seems to be investing heavily in growth.
Udacity is a global company with over 400 employees and operations in seven countries. They are also hiring aggressively. When I wrote my year in review for Udacity, they had over 140 open jobs. International enrollments grew by 200% in 2017, and half of the students are outside of the US. The international expansion was led by Clarissa Chen, who became Udacity’s COO. She is been with Udacity since 2012 and has performed multiple roles at the company.
Without a doubt, the biggest hit was Udacity’s Self-Driving Car Nanodegree which received over 10,000 enrollments. Overall, Udacity has 50,000 Nanodegree students enrolled with 27,000 graduates. The company ended 2017 with more than eight million enrolled students across free and paid courses, up from five million at the end of 2016.
One of Udacity’s biggest innovations is an internal Uber-like platform for grading projects. Nanodegree alumni are paid to grade projects of the current Nanodegree students. In 2017, these project reviewers graded 300,000 projects.
In 2017, we saw Udacity make a number of changes including pivoting away from free. Udacity has now moved to a term based schedule, which means most Nanodegrees start and end on particular dates. If you don’t finish in the time allotted, you are given a four-week extension. As exclusively reported by Class Central, Udacity discontinued it’s freelancing platform Blitz.com, job guarantee, and money back guarantee programs. You can read more about these changes in detail in Class Central‘s 2017 year in review for Udacity.
This announcement makes Udacity the first MOOC provider to publically talk about its revenues. According to CEO Vish Makhijani, the reason financial details were released was to giving investors confidence in its business model when they potentially go public.
In the MOOC world, revenue numbers are scarce, but in Class Central‘s 2017 year in review for Coursera, I speculated that Coursera is now within striking distance of $100 million dollars in annual revenue. Although, in the case of Coursera, it shares half of its revenue with university partners.