Welcome Our New VP of Content Grégory Boutté!

Udemy_VPContent_GregoryBouttePlease join us in welcoming Grégory Boutté to the Udemy team as our vice president of content! Grégory will be responsible for how we work with instructors to acquire great content and how we manage our library to deliver the best content to our students.

Grégory most recently was the chief revenue officer at Sidecar and also built and grew international and U.S. teams over 13 years at eBay. Our CEO Dennis Yang says, “Grégory truly understands what it takes to build out the supply side of a large-scale, international business and is very passionate about our mission of helping people fulfill their potential.”

Grégory chatted with us about his plans and expectations about his new role.

Q: Why did you choose to come to Udemy?
A: The companies that I dream of working for have certain characteristics, and Udemy checked the boxes for all of them. Something I always look for in a company is a bigger purpose that goes beyond just making revenue. I feel like if we deliver the numbers, we can make the world a better place. A second characteristic I look for is a product that I can use. While at eBay, I was a power buyer. At Sidecar I was a rider and driver. I like that Udemy allows me to use the product and tell my friends about it. Lastly, I wanted to work for a company with great business fundamentals in terms of growth, funding, and size of opportunity, all of which Udemy encompasses. Udemy has an amazing team, culture, and set of values.

Q: What are your priorities for your new role?
A: My priorities are meeting the team, meeting the customer, and setting business goals. I am spending most of my time getting to know the team, but meeting (and being) a customer is a high priority for me. I want to get on the phone with our students to find out about their experiences, as well as create a course myself to understand the processes our instructors go through. I am currently taking Complete Guitar System and SQL for Newbs. I want to explore and dig deeper into the Udemy interface.

Q: What gets you the most excited when thinking of Udemy?
A: The opportunity here is enormous. The vibe and energy in the teams gets me so excited. I feel Udemy is at a point where we have figured out how to make learning accessible for customers and have a good community of instructors, which I want to continue to grow over my time here.

In his free time Grégory enjoys spending time with his four children, surfing, and learning the guitar. We are excited to have Grégory share his years of experience at marketplace companies with Udemy, as well as his drive to see the company grow. Welcome, Grégory!

July 24, 2015: Friday News Roundup

So, what did you learn this week? Check out our collection of notable news and ideas, and you might pick up some more knowledge.

Has E-Learning Gone Wild Again?
We’re longtime followers of Josh Bersin, one of the leading voices in the field of corporate learning. Here, he puts the current surge in the e-learning space into historical perspective, looking at how the current wave of providers is taking advantage of better technology to deliver better student experiences. Bersin’s takeaway: the future looks very bright!

The Real Reasons Why YouTube’s 5 Biggest Stars Became Millionaires
For a while now, YouTube has been fertile ground for launching the careers of would-be entertainers, entrepreneurs, and personalities of all stripes. But it’s not just about achieving viral fame. Check out the current top five YouTube stars — all under age 30 — and how they’ve turned their video stylings into real money.

Think Outside the Valley: How Startups Can Change the World
We at Udemy recognize how lucky we are to be working for such a civic-minded company located in one of the most beautiful and prosperous parts of the country. Our VP of Engineering, Claire Hough, explains the responsibility tech companies in Silicon Valley have to help share their good fortune with others, such as by extending access to high-speed broadband. You can find a deeper discussion of this topic, with differing points of view, as part of the NY Times’ Room For Debate series.

Are You Ready for the Workplace of the Future?
Do you hate cubicles and love open offices? Do you prefer to work solo or crave group collaboration? Your answers may depend on your age. Different generations have different attitudes toward how, when, and where they work, and companies will be challenged to cater to all.

Welcome Our New VP of Product Rob Wong!

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We are excited to announce a new member of the executive team, Rob Wong! Rob is joining as the vice president of product and will be managing Udemy’s product and design initiatives. As our CEO Dennis Yang put it, Rob “had the rare combination of product vision, team-building chops, and the humility to be part of something bigger than [himself].”

We sat down with Rob to chat about his past experiences and plans for his new role at Udemy.

Q: What motivated you to join the Udemy team?
A: I’m really passionate about education. When I think back to my career, I wish there was a Udemy around to help me. The team also really impressed me; I love how they think about things. The company culture is really strong and I wanted to be a part of that.

Q: What sparked your interest in ed-tech?
A: I’m a lifelong learner. I’ve jumped into different industries and I’ve had to pick up things quickly. I try to be very hands-on– when I was in business school I wanted to learn to cook better. Instead of paying for cooking classes, I volunteered at a restaurant. When I want to learn something new I jump right into it. Also, I’m a parent with two daughters, and in this role I get to learn about learning. It’s a great way for me to be a better teacher for my daughters.

Q: What from your past experience do you think would be most useful for you here at Udemy?
A: Everything I have done in the past will contribute to my role here in some way. As executive vice president of product at Sidecar I experienced a two-sided marketplace, similar to Udemy. When I spent five years working as head and VP of product Hulu, I got a lot of experience with a video service, which will be very helpful in this role too.

Q: What are you most excited about for your role at Udemy?
A: I am excited for the impact Udemy can have on the broader society and world — the opportunity Udemy has to unlock so much potential in so many people. It’s needed now because the workplace is so dynamic and you always need to learn new skills. The impact we can have is what gets me excited to wake up in the morning.

In his free time, Rob loves to cook, watch and play sports, and spend time with his two daughters. Welcome to the team, Rob!

How Tech Companies Can Change the World

claire-e1419977296895 Our VP of Engineering, Claire Hough, had a piece run on TechCrunch this past weekend, and her message deserves a broader audience. As technology companies have become more successful and powerful, they haven’t always used their growing influence on behalf of the less privileged among us. And yet most agree that access to technology tools and products, primarily high-speed Internet, is now critical to daily life. That’s why President Obama just announced the ConnectHome program to extend broadband access to people in public housing.

Read Claire’s full article, “Think Outside the Valley: How Tech Companies Can Change the World,” to learn how else tech companies could do more to improve individual lives and society as a whole.

July 17, 2015: Friday News Roundup

Wow, another week come and gone… is it just us or is this summer flying by? Enjoy this week’s roundup and hope you have fun in the sun this weekend.

Why Higher Ed and Business Need to Work Together
Some interesting research here from the IBM Institute for Business Value reinforces that there’s a skills gap between what’s learned in college and what’s required on the job. For example, about half of the survey respondents said the current higher ed system fails to meet student needs and an even higher percentage (60%) believe it fails to meet the needs of industry.

Is the On-Demand Economy the Future of Work?
As the so-called “sharing” or “gig” economy grows, there’s more and more debate (and lawsuits) over whether this model truly benefits 1099 workers or mainly just the companies putting them to work. This column explores the pros and cons and concludes by asking a lot of weighty questions about what the future holds.

One Entrepreneur’s Plan to Transform Africa
In this interview, entrepreneur and leadership development expert Fred Swaniker shares his thoughts on the business climate in Africa, how it differs from the image we see in American media, and why he believes “The only thing that drives prosperity and job creation and brings people out of poverty is entrepreneurship.” Education is the key to empowering today’s African teenagers to become “the next African Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.”

Rich Kids Study English
All the buzz seems to be about how we need to encourage more kids to study STEM subjects in order to fill the tech-driven jobs of tomorrow. So, who are the students majoring in liberal arts and humanities anyway? According to this article, based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics, it’s the children of wealthy parents, who don’t need to worry so much about being job-ready upon graduation.

Men Think They are Maths Experts, Therefore They Are
Speaking of STEM subjects, there’s a well-worn trope that men are better than women when it comes to numbers and that’s one possible reason why tech and science fields remain predominantly male. Turns out this is yet another example of the “confidence gap” — women are just as qualified and capable but lack self-belief and, therefore, are less likely to pursue careers in those areas. Imagine what could be accomplished if people let go of their stereotypes!

Designing Musical Interfaces

Today we’re featuring the words and wisdom of Pablo Stanley, one of the talented UX designers working on the Product team at Udemy.

Pablo has researched how music can be leveraged to signal activity (rather than the usual beeps and chimes), the role audio plays in our interactive experiences, and how sounds and visuals need to work in harmony when it comes to product design. Pablo’s a good one to explore this topic, given his personal passion for music, and he even shares his own compilation of 200 audio samples of harmonies, sequences, SFX, speech, and chord progressions on eight different instruments that readers can download and experiment with. Bonus: we’re now familiar with the term “earcon,” i.e., the auditory version of an icon — who knew!

You can read Pablo’s full story on Medium.

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July 10, 2015: Friday News Roundup

Check out some news from Udemy and other stories that piqued our interest this week.

Why a Mom from Nebraska Left Home to Join S.F. Coding Bootcamp
If you’ve ever wanted to learn coding but have been telling yourself you’re not the “programmer type,” you’re going to have to come up with a new excuse. Ginny Martin, a 47-year-old mother of three, had a successful career in venture capital, which exposed her to the engineering world and inspired her to step outside her comfort zone to learn more. And now we’re inspired by her example! Read on about how she became something of a hero and role model to her much-younger fellow bootcampers too.

The Next Mark Zuckerberg is Not Who You Think
Reinforcing the idea that generalizations don’t hold true once you get down to the individual level, the New York Times reports that “the average founder is 38, with a master’s degree and 16 years of work experience,” i.e., not a millennial college drop-out. The problem is that Silicon Valley’s leading investors are still hung up on the Zuckerberg stereotype and only field pitches from people they know.

US Edtech Brings in $240M in June
Investment in edtech companies was red hot last month, and Udemy led the way with our $65 million funding round from Stripes Group. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats, and we’re happy to see more interest (and money) going toward developing innovative learning solutions. Continuing that momentum, we announced a partnership with the career website Beyond to help job-seekers gain the skills they need to get hired.

U.S. Students Might Soon be Able to Use Federal Aid to Attend Coding Bootcamps
The U.S. Department of Education is exploring an expansion of its Pell Grant program that would let students apply funds to “alternative” learning models, such as coding bootcamps and online courses. As traditional institutions of higher ed become ever-more expensive, inaccessible, and impractical for today’s career-driven students, more will be going elsewhere to learn skills and get professional development. It makes sense to offer aid to all motivated learners, not just the ones who can find a way into a traditional university.

“Maria” is Leaving Sesame Street
A bittersweet note to end on: Sonia Manzano, better known for the past 44 years as her character Maria on “Sesame Street,” has decided it’s time to change her address. Lots of us grew up learning Spanish words with Maria, one of the first Latinas on TV, and while we’re sad to see her go, we wish her lots of luck. (We also feel really old now.)

July 2, 2015: Friday Thursday News Roundup

The news roundup comes a day early this week, as we take tomorrow off to celebrate July 4th. Have a fun, festive, and safe holiday weekend!

The fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in America
The typical narrative about entrepreneurs these days focuses on a young male building an app — and we wish those startup dreamers lots of success. But this new report will make you rethink your assumptions. In fact, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 74% between 1997 and 2015—a rate that’s 1.5 times the national average. And the number of businesses owned by African American women grew 322% since 1997, making black females the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S.

College must become more accessible and affordable — so here’s a start
We agree wholeheartedly with this article’s premise — that making college ever more exclusive and expensive won’t generate the number of qualified workers our economy needs. Yet that trend persists. We’re always interested in hearing how others are innovating in the education space, in this case by launching the Global Freshman Academy to let people take an entire freshman year’s worth of open online courses for credit.

Build it and they will come will not close the opportunity gap
Another perspective on closing the opportunity gap — extending access to quality education to lower-income students — holds that technology can only go so far in leveling the playing field. Companies also need to provide access to the technology itself. Then they need to offer support and encouragement to students who might not even know what learning options are open to them or how to make best use of these new tools and resources.

Does music give you math skills?
If the thought of math makes you break out in hives, you’re not alone. Maybe you should be cultivating your musical side to help get more comfortable around numbers. This research looked at how musical training and ability may be correlated with improved cognitive function in other areas.

100 percent is overrated
If you’re not a “math person” OR a musician, that’s okay too. As this article points out, “what matters for improving performance is that a person is challenged, which requires a mindset that is receptive to being challenged—if not actively seeking out challenge and failure.” If you want to learn and grow, you should be prepared to make mistakes. The secret is not to be deterred from your hard work but to embrace the whole experience.

Here’s How Udemy Gives

On June 26, all Udemy offices (San Francisco, Ankara, and Dublin) spent a day volunteering locally. At Udemy, part of our culture is to give back to our community, particularly around education and youth empowerment. We love interacting with our neighbors and helping them reach their goals, so volunteering isn’t a one-time thing for us. We plan volunteer projects regularly and encourage everyone to step away from their desks to get involved. Here’s a recap of how each Udemy office recently donated its time and energy.

San Francisco
We partnered with HandsOn Bay Area, a group that organizes service projects for innovative companies, to beautify Buena Vista Horace Mann Elementary School in San Francisco’s Mission District. Buena Vista Horace Mann is colorful and airy, with students from kindergarten to 8th grade. Our team pitched in on several projects: building a greenhouse in the playground, painting an accent wall in the teachers’ lounge, organizing classrooms, and painting the school’s values at the building entrance. Because the school is in a bilingual community that serves both Spanish and English speakers, values such as perseverance (perseverancia) were painted in both languages. The SF volunteers had a great time building, painting, and organizing the school and enjoyed a day in the sun helping the community!

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Ankara
In Turkey, Udemy employees visited the “Village For Children With Leukemia,” an organization that’s building a Circle of Life facility to provide health and recreational services to families of kids with leukemia and other forms of cancer. It’s a home away from home for patients who have come to Ankara to receive treatment, complete with a guest house offering 5-star hotel service as well as K-12 school facilities, a restaurant, health center, fitness center, athletic facilities and much more. Udemy spent time with the young patients and donated much-needed items like clothes, bed linens, stationery, and toys. We also participated in some workshops that give family members a chance to learn skills like knitting, handicrafts, baking, and floriculture.

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Dublin
Volunteers from Udemy’s Dublin office worked with a children’s charity called Scouting Ireland, whose aim is to support and develop the social, physical, and intellectual skills of young children. We spent our time sprucing up their urban garden space, which was very overgrown and unusable. We put a lot of elbow grease into such physical activities as weeding, stripping ivy from walls, and clearing overgrowth, so that Scouting Ireland can now use the space for the club’s activities and skills training. Luckily, the weather was on our side, and we got a lovely sunny day while doing this outdoor work. There were many aching limbs over the weekend as a result, but it was all worth it!

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We value these opportunities to give back to our respective communities and look forward to more volunteer events in the future.

June 26, 2015: Friday News Roundup

Happy Friday and welcome to the latest batch of news that caught our eye this week. Have a great weekend!

The Rise of the Developer

Great data and insights in these survey results from InfoWorld, suggesting life and work are pretty good for most developers these days. Their influence is growing beyond the engineering pit, and they enjoy the fast pace of their chosen career. Biggest challenge? “Keeping up with new technologies/changing skill requirements.” JavaScript was the language developers were most interested in learning, while the top four skills developers felt they needed to acquire were cloud APIs, data analytics, security issues, and mobile technology. Mobile was ranked as the No. 1 skill needed to succeed among developers under 35.

Why Century 21’s Partnering with Udemy

With thousands of agents dispersed around the country and rarely, if ever, in an office, Century 21 recognized it needed a smart, efficient way to keep its workforce informed and engaged. Incorporating Udemy for Business into the company’s intranet has effectively put “all affiliates one click away from C21U, making it a one-stop shop for all learning.” It’s a great win for the Udemy for Business team and a perfect illustration of how corporate learning and development can adapt to our tech-driven times.

3 Things No One Tells 20-Somethings About Business Success

We’ve all read the usual complaints about millennials — they’re narcissistic, entitled, needing constant feedback. Of course, stereotypes are just that, and most millennials are just as driven, dedicated, and team-oriented as their older coworkers. Still, as this article explains, 20-somethings can help their cause by proactively debunking the negative generalizations and assumptions through their behaviors and attitudes.

Why We Love to Hate HR… and What HR Can Do About It

A pair of articles from the current issue of the Harvard Business Review look at the historical role of HR and how it’s evolved over time, along with the growing trend of giving job candidates assessment tests. About the latter, “Recent research shows that about 76% of organizations with more than 100 employees rely on assessment tools such as aptitude and personality tests for external hiring. That figure is expected to climb to 88% over the next few years.”

In-flight WiFi is About to Become a Thing People Actually Use

This article begins: “In-flight WiFi is basically the worst.” No kidding! While upgraded communications satellites promise to provide the same quality service as passengers have come to expect on the ground, on-board WiFi is notoriously expensive and there’s little hope that will change. Our recommendation: get the Udemy app for your phone or tablet and download your courses before you fly for full access while you’re offline.