Bertelsmann buys stake in Udacity

Bertelsmann buys stake in Udacity

Bertelsmann has acquired a stake in US online education provider Udacity as part of its aim to turn “education into a third mainstay of revenues”.

Bertelsmann, a parent company of Penguin Random House, contributed a “significant portion” to Udacity’s latest round of financing, which raised a total of $35m. As well as the investment from Bertelsmann, Udacity also received money from American fund Drive Capital, Recruit in Japan and Valor Capital in Brazil, among others.

Udacity, founded in Silicon Valley in 2011 by German computer scientist Sebastian Thrun, offers online vocational training courses with a focus on technology and IT, working with partners such as Google and Facebook. It has around 2.8m students in 119 countries at present.

The new investment will mainly be used on Udacity’s work on nanodegrees, a type of credential for students to gain skills recognized by employers around the world.

Thomas Rabe, chairman and c.e.o. of Bertelsmann, said: “The investment in Udacity is an important step for Bertelsmann, as it gives us access to one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative and best-known e-learning providers. We are very excited to participate in the company’s dynamic development as a strategic investor and to work with the team led by c.e.o. Sebastian Thrun.

He added: “We will continue to invest in education businesses, with the aim of turning education into a third mainstay of revenues for Bertelsmann, alongside media and services.”

Bertelsmann launched a €30m education technology fund in Brazil last March.