26. Coursera

Go to a top school, without going

Founders: Daphne Koller, Andrew Ng
Launched: 2012
Funding: $146.1 million
Valuation: $402.4 million (PitchBook)
Disrupting: Higher education
Rival: edX

George Kavallines

Former Stanford University computer science professors, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng had spent enough time in higher education to realize that change was long overdue. That's why in 2012 they launched Coursera. The Mountain View, California-based company is an online education platform that lets anyone, anywhere access courses from nearly 150 top universities in the world, including Yale, Duke, Johns Hopkins and the University of London.

Read More FULL LIST: 2017 DISRUPTOR 50

Coursera offers more than 2,000 courses in areas such as business, social sciences, math, language and computer science, and the company says more than 25 million learners accessed them last year. Although users still have access to free courses, the company has been more active in promoting its paid options. For instance, its "Specializations" program is a series of online courses that enable learners to master a specific career skill. The courses typically take anywhere from four to six months and range in price from $39 to $79 per month. Learners can also take it up a notch and earn an accredited online master's degree in business, computer science and data science. The investment is bigger: anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 for a degree that takes one to three years to complete.

The company, led by CEO Richard Levin, former president of Yale University, has also recently established partnerships with a number of governments and nonprofit organizations to bring education to those in the greatest need. Through Coursera for Government and Coursera for Refugees, the company is working with the U.S. State Department and the Institute of International Education to bring education to those who otherwise would not have access to it. Big-name venture firms such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates have been behind Coursera from the beginning and together have invested a little more than $146 million in the company.

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