Udacity is a for-profit educational organization founded by Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens, and Mike Sokolsky offering massive open online courses (MOOCs). According to Thrun, the origin of the name Udacity comes from the company’s desire to be “audacious for you, the student”. While it originally focused on offering university-style courses, it now focuses more on vocational courses for professionals.
Udacity is the outgrowth of free computer science classes offered in 2011 through Stanford University. Thrun has stated he hopes half a million students will enroll, after an enrollment of 160,000 students in the predecessor course at Stanford, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, and 90,000 students had enrolled in the initial two classes as of March 2012. Udacity was announced at the 2012 Digital Life Design conference.
Udacity is funded by venture capital firm, Charles River Ventures, and $200,000 of Thrun’s personal money. In October 2012 the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz led the investment of another $15 million in Udacity. In November 2013, Thrun announced in a Fast Company article that Udacity had a “lousy product” and that the service was pivoting to focus more on vocational courses for professionals. As of 28 April 2014, Udacity has 1.6 million users in 12 full courses and 26 free courseware.
In 2014, the Georgia Institute of Technology launched the first “massive online open degree” in computer science by partnering with Udacity and AT&T; a complete degree through that program costs students $7,000.
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