Backed by $16 million from two of Silicon Valley’s largest venture capital firms, Coursera launched today to deliver free online courses from elite universities to millions of people around the world.
Kleiner Partner John Doerr: “Elite education is too expensive, and it’s available for too few.”
The company is headed by two Stanford University computer science professors, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, who developed an online education platform last fall that served two courses that attracted about 200,000 students, despite having no marketing.
The project was such a success that Koller and Ng decided to spin it out of Stanford and create a company. New Enterprise Associates General Partner Scott Sandell, who backed a previous company founded by Koller’s husband, said he heard a brief pitch from Koller on a Saturday in October when the two families were eating lunch together at Sandell’s house.