- Coursera, a decade-old MOOC platform, plans to continue growing its degree business, CEO Jeff Maggioncalda said during a call with analysts Thursday to discuss the company's annual earnings.
- The company has launched 13 new degrees with colleges since 2021, bringing the total number of bachelor's, master's and postgraduate degrees up to 38, according to Maggioncalda. "Students want the flexibility to learn online, and universities are responding by scaling online degree programs using partners like Coursera to meet demand," he said.
- Overall, the company's revenue grew to $415.3 million in 2021, a 41% increase from the year before, according to filings with the SEC. Even so, net losses more than doubled to $145.2 million as the company increased spending on research and development as well as sales and marketing.
Maggioncalda said the company is still in the beginning stages of building its degree business.
But this segment has recently seen major growth, with revenue from degrees reaching $13.3 million in 2021's fourth quarter — a 43% increase from a year ago.
Still, other companies bring in much more revenue performing similar services. 2U, another publicly traded company that helps colleges launch and manage online programs, saw $152.4 million from its degree segment in 2021's fourth quarter, about 11 times the revenue Coursera brought in from its degree business over the same period.
However, the total number of students enrolled in Coursera's degree programs is ballooning. Its enrollment rose to 16,204 students in the fourth quarter, up 36% year over year. The company also recently announced five new degree programs, including a bachelor's in general business from the University of North Texas and a master's in engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder.
The company expects this part of the business will grow 20% in 2022, with slower expansion in the first half of the year that accelerates as Coursera launches fall programs.
Like several other education companies, Coursera helps colleges launch and market online degrees in exchange for a portion of those programs' tuition revenue. But the company announced last year it was lowering its cut of revenue to support the growth of online degrees.
Under the new structure, Coursera takes 40% of tuition revenue from degree programs but progressively lowers that amount to 25% as the colleges it works with grow their annual tuition revenue on the platform.
Maggioncalda stressed the importance of Coursera's consumer segment in helping to grow these parts of the business by funneling learners registered for the platform's free content into paid programs. The company's number of registered learners recently reached 97 million, roughly doubling from pre-pandemic levels.
"Our consumer segment is vibrant and growing," Maggioncalda said. "But in addition to its substantial financial contribution, the consumer segment is also an important strategic asset."
Last year, Maggioncalda said, around half of degree students came from Coursera's registered learner base — enabling the company to recruit students for these offerings at a low cost. "Generally, the model is working the way that we had expected," he said.
Coursera isn't the only company banking on this strategy, which company leaders describe as a flywheel effect. 2U, for instance, recently acquired edX, a MOOC platform that competes with Coursera, in order to lower marketing costs and expand the company's reach.
Company leaders bill this strategy as a way forward in the online education business, where market competition has been heating up and student acquisition costs have been climbing.
Maggioncalda's sights are set on international expansion. He argued that the platform's degree programs will reach more foreign learners once it has more offerings from universities with branding and languages local to them.
"That's why we are really looking for degree programs that are more global than where we started," Maggioncalda said.
The company is working on bolstering other parts of its business as well, including offering employee training and development for companies and governments. It groups that work into a segment that also includes Coursera for Campus, which allows colleges to use the platform's content in their classes.
Coursera now has more than 800 paid enterprise clients, which is double the number it had a year ago. Revenue from enterprise clients reached $120 million in 2021, rising 70% year over year. This segment is expected to grow at an even faster clip this year than the degree business, with company officials sharing growth projections of 50%.