A Letter from Udemy Co-Founder, Eren Bali

Oktay and I first started Udemy 4 years ago with a radical idea – to build a marketplace for individuals to share skills and knowledge. Since then, our little idea has grown into a thriving company of tens of thousands of courses and millions of students. I am very proud of where the company is today and the team we have built. As we continue to grow, I am excited to announce a new Udemy chapter with Dennis Yang as our CEO.

Dennis joined Udemy as President and COO in 2012 and has since directed business-related activities, scaling Udemy’s operations domestically and globally. He has helped drive the strategy that propelled us to 300 percent revenue and user growth over the last year. Dennis has the experience to lead us through our next chapter.

Dennis has worked in leadership roles at technology companies since 1999. Prior to joining Udemy, Dennis was the senior vice president of operations at 4INFO, a leading mobile advertising technology company. He completed his undergraduate studies at Northwestern University and received his MBA from Stanford University.

I will remain an integral part of Udemy. I will be doing more of the fun stuff like guiding product direction and strategy as we work to fulfill our mission of enabling anyone, anywhere to learn anything online. I want to thank to everyone who believed in us enough to join us on this journey and help make Udemy a reality.

Never stop learning,
Eren Bali

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Instructor Announcement

 

 

(Note: If you have already read our email announcement, please feel free to skip down to the Q&A below.)

Udemy Instructors,

As many of you know, Udemy’s journey began nearly 20 years ago in a remote village in Turkey.  My parents’ gift of a computer opened the world to my sisters and me, giving us the opportunity to explore and learn online.

I think about that occasionally because it’s what you help students do everyday on Udemy – you help them explore & learn online.

In July of this year, you reached an incredible milestone. You taught more than 1 million students in 225 countries around the world.

Now, just 3 months later, you’ve taught nearly 1.5 million students.

I’m deeply humbled by the success you’ve had and the number of lives you’ve touched. I’m also very proud of the fact that the top 10 instructors on Udemy have earned over $5MM and our average instructor has earned more than $7,000.

We’ve been thinking deeply about this and how we can help take your success to the next level. We want to help you teach 10 million people… and, one day, 100 million people.

We’re dedicated to this promise, but we need to make some important changes to get there. We want to take this opportunity to explain these changes as well as the rationale behind them.

The Changes

Udemy will be shifting to a revenue share structure that’s based on the source of the student. There are two changes:

First, when Udemy brings a student to your course, the revenue share will shift from 70% to 50%.

Second, when you bring a new student to Udemy, the revenue share will increase from 85% to 100% (net of payments fees). This means, you will keep all the LIFETIME revenues when these students purchase your courses.

These changes will be effective November 1st and will apply to all instructors (existing and future).

To make the impact of these changes a little more clear, let’s take a look at a few scenarios:

1) A visitor (brand new to Udemy) clicks a link to your course that contains one of your coupon codes. They then get distracted and start reading the NY Times. If they come back to Udemy and create an account within 24hrs, even if they don’t signup for your course, they are tagged as your student.

2) A visitor clicks your link, explores Udemy, but doesn’t signup. Then 2 weeks later (or at any point in the future), returns to directly Udemy.com, signs-up, and redeems your coupon code within their first 2 hours after signing up. This student is tagged as your student.

3) Udemy’s new international ambassador works on a promotion in Brazil that brings on 1,000 new students, 5 of which purchase your course. You earn 50% of each of those sales. Udemy is the source of these students.

4) Udemy’s marketing team runs a holiday special to our entire user base. 20,000 students purchase courses as a result, and 20 buy your course. 5 of those students originally registered through a promotion you did. For those 5 students you earn 100%. On the other 15 students Udemy acquired, you earn a 50% share.

5) You’re not into marketing (no worries), but you produce amazing content. You earn 50% on each sale. Udemy continues to re-invest the other 50% into our marketing engine. The number of students on the site grows and your monthly earnings grow as well.  A rising tide floats all boats.

Why We’re Making These Changes

You are our closest partners and we are extremely dedicated to your success. Many of you have gotten to personally know Alex, Danielle, Eliza, David, and others on our team. They work tirelessly, everyday, to help you succeed.

Our goal is to increase your success even further. These changes will help us make the necessary investments to take you there.

We will be investing deeply in two areas: 1) marketing – so that we can double or triple the number of students you’re teaching, and 2) product – so that Udemy will be the best platform for you and your students to teach & learn online.

Some of the investments we’re most excited about include:

  • Mobile – Making your courses available on 1 billion Android devices around the world (happening in Q4),

  • Affiliates – Building a large network of affiliates who will sell your courses, and

  • International – Helping you reach an international student base. This may also include transcriptions and/or translations for your courses.

  • UFO (Udemy for Organizations) – Selling your courses into our corporate partners that want to use them to help train their employees. This is particularly exciting as it’s a pool of corporate $$s that you don’t have access to currently.

We know many of you may be thinking “Does this mean I’ll make less money?”

You may see a temporary drop in course earnings. But given these investments, we expect your earnings will be on a much steeper trajectory for the future.

We’re very excited about this next phase of growth. If you have any questions, we are available. Please email us at instructorquestions@udemy.com.

It has been an amazing past 3 years. We look forward to an even brighter future, helping you teach hundreds of millions of students, in the years ahead.

— Eren Bali, CEO & Co-Founder Udemy

 

Q&A

  • Does this change apply to me?

    • The new instructor revenue share will apply to all Udemy instructors, existing and future.

  • How will Udemy track the students I bring to the marketplace?

    • You will be credited with bringing a new student to Udemy with your instructor coupon code.  If a student follows a link with the code and registers for Udemy within 24hrs, or goes straight to udemy.com and registers, but types in your coupon code within 2hrs or registering, you are credited with that student.  See the first few scenarios above to understand better how this works.

  • Will I be given credit for students I’ve brought in the past?

    • Yes. You will be given retroactive credit for students you’ve previously brought to Udemy.

  • Why do I have to Use a Coupon Code to track students I register?
    • We chose to use the coupon code system for several reasons, the most important of which is it gives you the most flexibility when getting credit for new students.  See the example above where a student simply comes to Udemy but then uses your coupon code.  This also allowed us to assign your existing students to you.
  • 100% sounds great, but what do you mean  by “net of fees”?

    • Fees include the 3% payments fee that Udemy is charged to process credit card purchases.  Udemy pays these fees in all other scenarios, but we need to make sure that we’re not losing money when you make a sale, thus we do need to remove this amount. After that, the entire purchase is yours!

  • How will this impact the revenue share for Udemy’s Marketing Program?

    • Udemy’s Affiliate and Ad programs will continue to operate as they have in the past and are based on the default revenue share.

    • With the change, the split on the Ad program will be 75% to Udemy, 25% to instructors.  Affiliate sales will now be 50% to the Affiliate, 25% to the Instructor, and 25% to Udemy.

  • How do I know that Udemy won’t change this again in the future?

    • This is a big change.  We know that.  Udemy has no plans to make any further changes in the future, and we promise to continue to remain as transparent and devoted to our community as we’ve always been.

  • How will this impact the course announcements that I send?

    • You will continue to be able to send course announcements just as you do today. Going forward though, if you’re sharing a course announcement with an instructor created coupon code, you will be receive 50% of the revenues from students that Udemy brought to your course(s) and 100% of the revenues from students that you brought to your course(s).

  • I’m a student.  What does this change mean for me?

    • Glad you asked! As we’ve shared, we’re very excited about this change and as a student we hope you are also excited. We will be investing deeply into the Udemy platform and this will mean an even more amazing learning experience for you!

  • I understand that Udemy is making some investments, but will I see any value?

    • Many of you have seen your earnings double or triple while you’ve been teaching on Udemy. Our goal is to make this happen again. We know that when 10 million students are browsing & searching for courses we will be able to deliver dramatically more value to each instructor on our platform. If you would like to explore the potential for your specific courses or how these investments will affect your category of expertise, please feel free to reach us directly at instructorquestions@udemy.com.

  • If I create a free course to bring in students, do I get 100% of the revenue from those students?

    • The instructor coupon code system will be used to track the new students which you bring to the marketplace. As a result, new students that sign up for your free courses will not be tracked and credited to you. We understand that this may be disappointing for some of you, but if you do want to share a course for free, we highly encourage you to create a free coupon code for a paid course. Those students will be tracked and credited appropriately to you.

Udemy CEO, Eren Bali’s Story – From One Room School House in Turkey to $12 Million Series B

I’m Eren Bali, the CEO and Co-founder of Udemy. I want to thank you for making Udemy such an amazing community.

Recently, a lot of people have asked me why I started the company. The answer lies in my personal story, and I wanted to share it with you today.

I was born in a small village in Turkey. My primary school was a one room schoolhouse where a single teacher tried her best to teach 5 different grades at the same time. That meant we were often left to try and learn from books on our own. As a kid, I was interested and somewhat talented in subjects like mathematics and science, but there was very little room for me to advance my skills. [Read more…]

Welcome to The New Udemy!

Over the last year and a half, you have given us product feedback, talked to our team, shared your stories, and most importantly, you’ve learned with us. Thank you!

We have been listening, and we are very excited to announce our biggest product change yet – The New Udemy!

Let’s have a look at what’s new.

Personalized Course Discovery

Our course library has grown quite a bit — more than 10x since last year — and we are still seeing around 100 new courses being published every month, which includes 1000+ hours of video content and 100’s of articles, presentations and e-books etc… And those numbers are growing by 50% every month.

We had to rethink how can you discover the best, most relevant courses in our library; to do this we built a personalized course discovery engine. It will recommend courses by analyzing your interests, past activity and social data. It even gets smarter the more you use Udemy. It’s similar to Netflix’s recommendation engine in that sense. We are also presenting more information and user reviews to help you pick the best courses.

Progress Tracking

Many of you requested to have the ability to see your progress while taking a course so we integrated this feature into the new site. You will be able to see your progress in the “my courses” section with a link that will take you directly to where you  left off in the course. You can also see your updated progress while transitioning between lectures and with more details in the course dashboard.

The New Course Taking Experience

We built the best course taking experience out there for you, and this is where the new site really shines. Full screen UI that takes advantage of all of your browser real estate, easy transitions between lectures, a powerful Quora style question & answer feature, an extras section with additional lecture materials, time tagged note taking, and a course dashboard with all details to capture your experience.

Starting now, you’ll be able to switch to the new version of Udemy. Go on, Give it a try :-).

– Eren Bali, CEO and Co-Founder, Udemy

PS – Please give us feedback and share your thoughts on the new Udemy! We want to make it amazing for you and the entire Udemy community.

PPS – Heads up, we will be launching a native iPad application and a new version of our signature course creation platform in the very near future. Stay tuned!

 

9 Reasons You Should Learn Ruby

The Ruby programming language, released in 1995 by Yukihiro Matsumoto, was designed as an intuitive platform with a focus on simplicity and productivity. Though it initially attracted a cult following, in recent years Ruby has gained more visibility in the programming community. Have you been curious about expanding your programming skills? Here are nine reasons why you should learn Ruby.

1. It’s easy to Learn

Ruby is a simple programming language that is easy for experienced programmers to pick up and a great introductory language for newbies to start with. It’s an object-oriented language (a language that streamlines the way you group code). In Ruby, all directions are consistent as the rules applying to objects apply to all of Ruby—a major plus when learning a new language.

2. Save time by writing more with less.

Because Ruby’s linguistic syntax is intuitive, writing code is much simpler and easier than other languages—you can kiss semicolons and parentheses goodbye. The language is designed to help you maximize action with fewer command calls, so you get cleaner code that is more functional (this saves de-bugging time—a major headache for programmers at all levels).

3. Write web apps quickly and easily.

Ruby is all about helping you make the things you want. Because the interface is easy-to-use and navigate, you can write web apps easily and quickly. With the introduction of Ruby on Rails, an open source web application framework for the Ruby language, you can create web apps in a matter of days instead of months. Sites like Basecamp, Amazon, Twitter, and Groupon were all created using Ruby on Rails.

4. The community will help you.

The Ruby programming community is welcoming and supportive. Ruby programmers are eager to help newbies starting out and to troubleshoot for experts who may have hit a wall, so you always have a network to reach out to while you’re learning. It also gives you access to new extension libraries to help you do more. Plus, Matz encourages new development in the community, recently collaborating with the Japanese government to offer a ¥1 million prize for the most interesting Ruby program.

5. It’s easy on the pocketbook.

Ruby is totally free of charge, only costing you the investment of time. And not only is it free of charge, it’s also free to use, copy, modify, and distribute.

6. Ruby can be customized.

One of the greatest features of Ruby is its flexibility. Users can alter all of its aspects by adding or removing any methods within the built in classes, as well as adding their own classes as necessary. In fewer words, this means you can easily format Ruby to fit your needs and work as efficiently as possible.

7. It’s portable.

Ruby functions across all platforms and operating systems, so everyone can access it and start learning anytime.

8. You can make your own Domain-Specific language.

For advanced programmers, creating a DSL can be a major help, but it can also be painstaking to make. (Domain-specific languages are programming languages made for a special purpose such as Maxima, which is used for spreadsheet formulas). Ruby’s simplicity and efficiency makes DSLs (such as Rake) much easier to write than in other languages.

9. Learning Ruby will get you more work.

Adding Ruby to your résumé makes you more versatile. The TIOBE index, which ranks the popularity and growth of programming languages, has continually ranked Ruby in the top 10, and its use is only growing in the programming and larger marketplace—even NASA uses Ruby to conduct simulations. With the growing popularity of Ruby on Rails, more large sites will be created using it and you’ll need to be on top of the trend. And now with the recent release of Ruby 1.9.3-p0, there’s no better time to start.

So whether you’re a seasoned programmer, code geek, or total noob, Ruby has something for you. What are you waiting for? Register today for our Ruby for Beginners course.