Earlier today, Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda shared the following email with Coursera employees:
My 25 years as a CEO have included some pretty rough times – the dot com bubble bursting, the 2008 financial crisis, and a global lockdown. While macroeconomic challenges are always tough, I know from experience that it’s most painful when those factors impact people’s livelihoods.
During a recent Town Hall, I said that we, like many companies, are navigating lower growth rates and environmental uncertainty and need to make whatever changes are needed – including reducing headcount expenses. I’m sad to share that in order to slow our rate of spending, we have made the difficult decision to reduce the size of our team.
At this time, we have notified all impacted employees via 1:1 conversations with their managers and senior leadership. There are countries such as the UK and Australia where laws and regulations require a consultation period – employees who are participating in that process have also been notified.
To say this is a tough and emotional day for Courserians would be an understatement, and I will provide as much clarity as possible about this decision in this email. Tomorrow we will also have three regional Town Halls where the executive leadership team will answer your questions. You will receive a calendar invite shortly with a Slido link to submit and upvote questions.
All organizations and regions across the company have been impacted to some extent, which means this loss will be felt by all of us. Our first priority is to make sure that impacted team members are treated with the respect and gratitude they deserve, and supported in every way possible through this difficult transition.
This week is about giving everyone the space to process and grieve. Next week, we’ll have a separate session to talk about where we’re headed. Let me step back and explain why and how we made the decision, how we’re supporting impacted employees, and what’s next for us as a team.
Why and how did we make this decision?
During our annual financial planning process, the executive team reviewed our growth opportunities and evaluated our investments for Q4 and the coming year. While the long-term outlook for Coursera remains promising, a deteriorating macroeconomic environment has forced us to sharpen our focus, prioritize our investments, and optimize our structure and operations.
Almost every growth company is a story of change. There are periods when top line growth provides the resources and reason to invest aggressively and grow the team quickly, and then there are periods where you need to slow the pace of spending and focus effort on fewer initiatives with less aggressive investment. 2020 was a moment of extraordinary expansion as our business was propelled by customer demand during the pandemic. And we’re entering a different chapter now.
Earlier this year, we revised our growth forecast and took a series of actions to pace our investments and resources with our new outlook. Despite our attempts to avoid headcount reductions in the last six months, including pausing hiring, minimizing consulting spend, and reducing more discretionary non-people budgets, we had to make the difficult decision to reduce our workforce in order to stay on track to fulfill our mission and scale sustainably in the long term.
Company OKRs in 2023 will reflect increased focus and leverage. We are reducing resources in the areas that we are no longer pursuing as a company and doubling down on mission-critical areas that resonate in the market, reinforce our unique value propositions, and build on our vision of serving learners from MOOCs to degrees and jobs. We’re combining teams and unifying products and technology to get more leverage out of the assets we have. We’ve done our best to map reductions according to the capabilities we’ll need to support our business strategy next year and beyond.
How are we supporting impacted employees?
We know this decision impacts employees’ livelihoods, and we are committed to providing as much support as we can during this difficult transition. The global separation package totals 4 months of pay (plus additional pay based on role and tenure), healthcare coverage for up to four months, which varies by country, and job placement assistance via Randstad RiseSmart.
We have also created a Coursera Alumni Talent Hub for impacted employees who want to opt-in. As a B Corp, Coursera attracts some of the world’s best mission-driven talent and I know that any organization would be lucky to have Coursera alumni join their team.
What’s our path forward?
As I reflect on our time since the pandemic, I am so proud of the ways Courserians have delivered above and beyond to respond to the uncertainty in the world around us. We met the moment of the pandemic, helping tens of millions of people around the world access high-quality education at a time when it was most needed.
Today, Coursera serves over 110 million learners, 275 partners, and 7,000 institutions in virtually all corners of the world. Every team member helped bring this vision to life. To those leaving, I want to thank you for your many tireless contributions to serve our mission. You were a critical part of Coursera’s journey and your legacy will be felt by our learners, partners, and customers for many years to come.
Changes like this are never easy. We understand that it will take time for all of us to grieve and transition. As an organization and as an executive leadership team, we are still learning, changing, and growing. While I regret that we have to say goodbye to many beloved Courserians, I know that we’re entering this next chapter with more clarity and focus than ever. We must work proactively, decisively, and together to meet this new moment in time.
I spent the last few months meeting with regional customers, partners, learners, and of course, many of you. I continue to be inspired by the talent and warmth of our team, and it is clear to me that no company is better positioned than Coursera to succeed both as a company and as a group of people joined in the cause of serving the world through learning. But our work is far from over.
I would like to thank each of you for your tenacity, compassion, and commitment to shaping a future where anyone, anywhere has access to high-quality learning that unlocks opportunity in the new digital economy.