Udacity, the online education company, is the latest to join the league of
extraordinary gentlemen unicorns after reaching a $1 billion post-money valuation. The company raised $105 million in its Series D, bringing its total funding to $163 million.
The round was led by German media group, Bertelsmann. New investors include Scottish investment firm Baillie Gifford, Emerson Collective and Google Ventures. Andreessen Horowitz, Charles River Venture and Drive Capital joined in as return backers.
As part of the funding round, Kay Krafft, CEO of Bertelsmann Education Group will join Udacity as a board member. The company plans to continue expanding internationally, and Bertelsmann has pledged its support. In a statement on the company’s blog, it revealed that it has seen sustainable revenue growth over the past 12 months, which enabled it to reach profitability earlier in 2015.
Last year, Udacity launched its Nanodegree program, a paid program that offers people the chance to earn degrees in tech related courses such as Android Development, Machine Language Learning, Tech Entrepreneurship and so on. Since then, the company revealed, 11,000 students across 168 countries have enrolled in the program and it only recently produced the 1,000th graduate.
Before the Nanodegree program started, Udacity was offering only college courses online. The company positioned itself as an alternative for students who couldn’t afford premium college education. It was partnering with several colleges in this wise, but the partnerships failed. Then it moved to offering certifications to workers looking to learn or improve their technical skills, partnering with Facebook, Cisco and Google to develop these courses.
Co-founder and CEO, Sebastian Thrun, told Fortune.com that he’s “confident that the nanodegree will produce different results” than the early college classes. “With the college classes, only 2% of students finished the series. With nanodegrees that come with feedback and mentoring, the completion rate is 90%.”