Editor’s Note: Below is a message from our 2 Co-Founders, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng on some new additions to Coursera’s executive team!
In the past year and a half, Coursera’s community has quickly grown to more than 100 universities, 500 courses, and 5 million students, and the numbers continue to grow at a remarkable pace. Figuring out how to scale up online education has been a fascinating and unique challenge, and we face much work ahead as we continue to actualize our mission of delivering education for everyone.
With this in mind, we are very fortunate to welcome to the Coursera team two of the technology industry’s most renowned product innovation veterans, John Ciancutti and Tom Willerer. John, as Coursera’s first Chief Product Officer, and Tom, as Coursera’s first Vice President of Product Management, will be instrumental in our efforts to scale our products and enhance our user experience. Among other tasks, they will be tackling improved recommendations, student learning insights and social connectivity, as well as looking for additional talent to scale their team.
Before they dig in, we’d like to offer our community a chance to get to know these two leaders in the product design world.
John Ciancutti, Chief Product Officer
John is a veteran leader in Silicon Valley, known for his long and successful career at Netflix, where he went from one of the first engineers to running all of product engineering, and more recently for his leadership at Facebook.
During his twelve year tenure at Netflix, John led personalization, search, social integration, and the Netflix user experience on web, phones, tablets and television-connected devices. In his earlier years as a software engineer, he helped design and develop the first personalization systems for the company, developing Netflix’s reputation as one of the most advanced movie recommendation services in the world. Following Netflix, John moved to Facebook, where he led product management and engineering as Director of Engineering for products such as Facebook Pages, Location Services, Photos and Video.
John graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1997 with a B.S. in Computer Science and a focus in artificial intelligence and adaptive systems. He is a member of the 2012 Class of Henry Crown Fellows and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute.
Regarding his new role, John says:
I am incredibly excited about the Coursera mission: creating access to high quality education for everyone in the world. Our opportunity is to make the Coursera product as powerful for students around the globe as it is for those sitting in the classroom. With the growing scale the company has already achieved, the massive amounts of data we’re creating every day and the global reach of every course, I am confident that the remarkable, growing product team at Coursera will get this done. I feel privileged to be able to join the team at this formative moment.
Tom Willerer, VP Product Management
Tom comes to Coursera having served for six years at Netflix, where he became one of the company’s most highly regarded leaders in his role as Vice President of Product Innovation. Tom co-led the product management team at Netflix and was responsible for setting the vision and managing the teams responsible for Product Marketing, Messaging, Social and Individual Profiles. Among his accomplishments during his time at the company, Tom pioneered ways for members to exchange recommendations with friends, and helped Netflix grow from 8 million U.S.-only subscribers to 40 million subscribers in 41 countries.
Tom holds a business degree from Indiana University, where he was a pitcher on the varsity baseball team, and a Masters in New Media Studies from DePaul University.
Commenting on his move, Tom says:
Coursera has assembled an incredibly talented team committed to a powerful mission. I can’t wait to focus on continuing to build out a world-class product experience that makes learning deeply satisfying and motivating for students around the world.
With these two outstanding additions to the Cousera team, we’re on our way toward faster product innovation and better student experiences.
– Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng