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Coursera Raises $43 Million to Boost Staff, Global Push

Coursera Inc., a provider of free online classes taught by university professors, said it raised $43 million in financing to double employees, develop mobile applications and bolster global expansion.

The funding was led by GSV Capital Corp., along with Learn Capital, Laureate Education Inc. and International Finance Corp., the investment arm of the World Bank. Russian investor Yuri Milner, who manages DST Global, also participated, Mountain View, California-based Coursera said in a statement today.

After shunning education-related technology for much of the last decade, venture capitalists have been pouring money into Web learning, betting that improved Internet speeds and the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets will lead to profitable business models. Venture investing in education jumped 41 percent in 2012 to $632.3 million, the most since the dot-com bubble’s peak in 2000, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

Coursera’s financing follows a $22 million round last year from investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates. They also contributed to the new funding.

A Coursera representative declined to comment on a valuation.

Coursera offers about 400 classes from 83 institutions. Some new courses are in subjects such as data management for clinical research, the Holocaust and the global business of sports. More than 4 million people have enrolled since Coursera was founded in 2011 by Stanford University computer-science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng.

The startup competes with Udacity Inc., founded by Sebastian Thrun, another Stanford professor. Udacity, based in Palo Alto, California, raised $15 million in October from investors including Andreessen Horowitz and Charles River Ventures. Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is an investor in Andreessen Horowitz.

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