10 million students: Big day at Udemy, bigger days ahead!


When you’re a fast-growing startup, you hit a lot of milestones, but we’re particularly proud and humbled by our latest achievement: We have officially welcomed our 10 millionth student to Udemy!

Why is this occasion extra-special for us? Because it’s all about our students. When students learn on Udemy, whether for professional advancement or personal enrichment, they are taking big steps toward building the lives they imagine for themselves. We don’t take this responsibility lightly. We are focused each and every day on evolving our marketplace so we can continue to be the best possible place for anyone in the world to learn, achieve, and succeed.

With 10 million students around the world now on board, it’s clear we’re on the right path. But we’ve never been the type of company to rest on our laurels either. We’ll take time to acknowledge this milestone, and a few glasses of champagne will likely be raised in our offices. But then we’ll get right back to work, collaborating with new instructors around the world to ensure our content is relevant and rewarding, and continually refining our course-taking experience to empower students to meet their goals.

Because here’s the thing — 10 million is a big number, but it’s just the start for Udemy. We’re already thinking about extending access to the next 10 million and to tens of millions of additional students after that. We believe learning is the key to empowering people around the world and helping them pursue their dreams and reach their goals — and we’re thrilled to have connected with our first 10 million.

There are more than 7 billion people on earth today. We still have lots of work to do.

Maintaining the integrity of our Udemy community

Udemy Community,

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, there has been discussion online about potentially plagiarized content on Udemy. We take these issues extremely seriously. I want to take a moment to share more specifics on this particular situation and also clearly detail our process for addressing allegations of copyright infringement.

As an open marketplace of online content, we, like other platforms, face bad actors that seek to profit by stealing intellectual property and reposting it as their own. This is in clear violation of our terms of use and against every principle we hold as supporting open marketplaces. We want to share more facts on this particular situation to shed light on our process to protect our marketplace.

First, we think a brief rundown of the timeline of events would be helpful:

  • On November 18, 2015, a course was uploaded on Udemy as “Learn Ethical Hacking: Hack Web Applications” by “Roy H.”;
  • On Thanksgiving day; Thursday, November 26, 2015, Troy Hunt tweeted at 1:02 p.m. pacific time that the course on Udemy had been plagiarized from his content;
  • Later that same day, at 4:43 p.m. pacific time, Udemy received a DMCA takedown notice related to such course; and
  • On Friday, November 27, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. pacific time, the unauthorized copy of Troy’s course was removed from Udemy.  

We take intellectual property rights seriously and act quickly to remove content when we suspect any potential copyright infringement. We stand by our process and pride ourselves in taking down potentially pirated content within 24 hours of notification.

Many of you have asked about what happened to the money received from Troy’s course. There was none. As the fraudulent instructor had created coupon codes to allow students free access to the course, no money was exchanged in this process.

Our biggest lesson learned from this experience is that piracy never takes a vacation. We understand the importance of having support teams available online 24/7 to assist our global student base and pay close attention to the escalation process at all times.

The good news is, the good actors in the Udemy system are much greater than the bad. On average, over 15,000 courses are uploaded to Udemy per year. So far in 2015, we have received 125 DMCA notifications as well as 45 “Hey, this looks weird maybe you should look into this,” notifications. Our copyright team has looked into every one of these complaints.

Our copyright policy outlines the process around how we handle notifications of copyright infringement, which can be found in its entirety at https://udemyblog.wpengine.com/terms/copyright/ – here are the highlights:

  1. Similar to platforms like YouTube and eBay, Udemy strictly follows the United States copyright law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and we have a dedicated DMCA enforcement specialist who swiftly addresses concerns about potential plagiarism and copyright infringement.
  2. We have an open door policy for any person to let us know of copyright and intellectual property issues by emailing copyright@udemy.com; we have and will continue to act swiftly to address all issues brought to our attention.
  3. As a marketplace, Udemy requires our Instructors to agree to our Terms of Service wherein they must confirm that the content they are uploading to our platform is their original content, or that they have the right to upload through licenses and consents for permission.

Our escalation team will be meeting after the holiday to review all of our copyright processes, including allowing people who do not have a Udemy account to use our flagging notification system. We know that sending an email can sometimes be a pain and we will look to making the reporting process easier.

As the Udemy marketplace continues to grow, we remain committed to creating and operating a marketplace where students and instructors from every corner of the globe can tap into their limitless potential – and will not let the actions of a few bad actors spoil the experience for others. We are thankful for our passionate community of Instructors and students who actively provide feedback and commentary that allow us to address issues quickly and efficiently, and welcome any person who has a question, comment or issue to be discussed to reach out to support@udemy.com.

— Dennis Yang, Udemy CEO

Udemy’s Teacher Tech Initiative

I had the pleasure of attending the White House Science Fair today for the announcement of Udemy’s Teacher Tech Initiative, in support of President Obama’s campaign to improve computer science education and put more Americans in tech jobs. Udemy’s Teacher Tech Initiative brings free and highly-discounted computer technology courses to K-12 teachers across the country, so teachers can better prepare students for the jobs of the future.

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In its fifth year, the White House Science Fair event celebrates the country’s most outstanding students in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. Special honor was given this year to girls and women excelling in these fields. Amongst the energetic buzz of student projects and experiments lies the undercurrent of a lack of computer science teachers in America and a need to equip more of our youth – especially girls – with the skills needed to fill the million plus technology jobs predicted to open in the next decade. Sixty-five percent of grade-school kids will have jobs that don’t exist today, and only one in 10 American public schools teach computer science. Udemy’s Teacher Tech Initiative seeks to help close this gap and make it possible for the next generation to take advantage of tech job opportunities.

Among the many amazing organizations joining this campaign is our Udemy for Business customer Esri. They will provide a grant to make its advanced mapping software running on cloud infrastructure provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS) available for free to the more than 100,000 elementary, middle and high schools in the United States. Esri is the global leader of mapping technology and Geographic Information System (GIS) software. Esri uses Udemy for Business to create content that educates people on their technology platform ArcGIS.

At Udemy, we believe that people can be and do anything if given the opportunity to learn. We see our students and instructors embody this notion every day. Take 15 year-old Moksh Jawa, a sophomore at Washington High School in Fremont, California, who is passionate about computer science although there are no related classes offered at his school. He self-studied for the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science exam, founded a computer science club on campus, and last month created an AP computer science exam prep course on Udemy with the aim of making computer science education, and the opportunity of passing the AP computer science exam, accessible to high school students around the globe.

Stories like Moksh’s, coupled with attending today’s Science Fair and meeting some of our country’s most innovative and creative young minds, re-confirms this belief that the opportunities and possibilities for success in technology are infinite. Through Udemy’s Teacher Tech Initiative, we’re honored to do our part in empowering teachers to educate today’s students for a successful tomorrow and demonstrate to their students that you can always learn your way to where you want to go.


To Our Instructor Community

Udemy is dedicated to providing everyday experts with everything they need to teach online. Our diverse instructor community is the heart and soul of Udemy, and we are continually amazed by our instructors’ vast expertise, dedication to students, and passion for teaching.

We’ve heard from several of you over the last months regarding the change to our revenue share structure. We want you to know that we hear your concerns and care deeply about our instructor community. As Udemy’s instructor and student communities grow around the world, we’re committed to offering the right resources, tools and communications to support the important work done by instructors every day. We strive to be transparent and honest in all our instructor communications. We welcome feedback, comments and concerns at any time instructorsupport@udemy.com.

Our goal is to build the best place for instructors to teach and for students to learn. The revenue share change Udemy made in October 2013 enabled us to make bigger investments in our marketplace, and we wanted to provide an update on our recent activities. Our revenue share was designed to reward instructors who bring new students to their Udemy course (97% revenue share to instructors who bring a new student to their Udemy course) and give Udemy the opportunity to make long-term investments in sustainable growth. We’re excited to report that we’re already beginning to see results, with Udemy’s student base growing over 50% since January 2014.

Some key investments Udemy has made in the last six months:

  • Growing our marketing team from 10 to 20 people, all with a focus on delivering results to instructors. Key positions include an Affiliate Marketing Manager (student acquisition and monetization), Instructor Account Managers, a new Instructor Support team, and additional SEO managers, just to name a few.
  • Growing our product team to deliver new features to instructors and students, including a new course-taking experience that emphasizes social interaction and drives engagement, improved instructor messaging tools, and new instructor analytics.
  • Launch and expansion of new channels, including mobile. Udemy’s new Android app is driving adoption and engagement, and ~30% of student course consumption happens on mobile. We’re also investing in existing channels, including Udemy for Organizations (enterprise content subscription) and our affiliate network partnership with Rakuten Linkshare.
  • We’re also in the early stages of making longer-term investments to take instructor success to the next level, including international expansion and Improved (and personalized!) course discovery.
  • In the next month, we will be rolling out an Instructor Council and community webinars to offer a forum for instructors to provide ongoing feedback and advise us on product feature design and community policy changes.

Ongoing Support for Instructors

Creating an online course is an intensely personal process that takes hard work and dedication, and we want to support instructors as they build great courses and connect with students around the world. Here are some of the resources provided by Udemy to all instructors:

  • Dedicated instructor support team. Email us at instructorsupport@udemy.com.
  • Production advisory team offering personalized feedback throughout course creation process, from initial test videos to published courses.
  • Udemy-moderated online communities where you can connect with other instructors to get honest feedback on everything from course topics to course promotion.
  • As always, 100 percent free teaching, video, communications, and promotions tools.

The Future’s So Bright…

We couldn’t be more excited about working with our instructor community to help shape the future of online learning and teaching together. Our instructors are the true pioneers of online education, and we’re proud to help connect great instructors with students everywhere hungry for new skills.

Dennis Yang