DataCamp raises $25 million for customizable online data science courses

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Data scientists, engineers, and researchers are in demand. According to LinkedIn, as of August 2018 in the U.S., the tech industry is experiencing a shortage exceeding 150,000 of people with data science skills. And with firms like IBM forecasting 28 percent growth in the number of AI- and analytics-related job listings, it’s a virtual certainty that corporate recruitment won’t get any easier in the months ahead.

Short of hiring more data scientists, supplementary education is one way businesses can begin to close the institutional knowledge gap. That’s the mission of New York startup and Techstars graduate DataCamp — cofounder and CEO Jonathan Cornelissen says he hopes to make data skills and data fluency accessible to people around the world. Now, with a platform boasting more than 3.3 million users in over 190 countries and 1,000 business customers, the latter of which include EA, Lego, Airbnb, Forrester, Whole Foods, PayPal, T-Mobile, Telefonica, Kaiser Permanente, HSBC, REI, eBay, Uber, Ikea, and Mercedes-Benz, he and fellow cofounders Dieter De Mesmaeker and Martijn Theuwissen are a lot closer to achieving that goal. A fresh funding round and growth by 100,000 new users every month hasn’t hurt, either.

DataCamp today revealed that it’s raised $25 million in financing led by Spectrum Equity, with participation from Accomplice and Arthur Ventures. Notably, that’s six times the size of DataCamp’s previous $4 million raise in July 2017, and brings the company’s total haul to $31.1 million.

Cornelissen says the funds will allow DataCamp to expand its global reach, broaden its curriculum, and improve the learning experience. It currently has offices in New York, Belgium, and the U.K., and its team of more than 90 people is about evenly split between Europe and the U.S. (Last year, the U.S. team relocated from the Boston area, where Accomplice is based.)

DataCamp

“Our team is thrilled that the effort we’ve put into working with the best instructors — and compensating them for co-creating interactive, hands-on courses that enrich millions of users — will now benefit so many more users and companies,” he said. “We were drawn to Spectrum Equity’s track record of scaling online learning platforms and internet companies such as Lynda.com, Teachers Pay Teachers, SurveyMonkey and GoodRx.”

DataCamp’s courses — which are available both on the web and through apps for iOS and Android — run about four hours long, and combine short expert videos with built-in practice modules that deliver personalized feedback on tasks like writing code, importing data, cleaning up databases, and training AI models. Those exercises build toward larger challenges — projects — that present learners with real-world problems.

To date, DataCamp’s 160 educators — some of whom make close to $150,000 a year in royalties — have contributed to a library of more than 200 courses on R, Python, SQL, Git, Shell, and other programming languages, tools, and platforms. Perhaps more impressively, the company says that overall course completion rate exceeds 60 percent.

Massive open online course (MOOC) competitors like Coursera, Codeacademy, and edX offer comparable features, to be sure. But somewhat uniquely, DataCamp provides a robust portal — DataCamp for Business — to its enterprise customers that allows them to track employees and team members’ progress over time. Managers can assign particular courses or chapters, see who’s meeting deadlines, and create custom curricular tracks. Employees, meanwhile, get access to a leaderboard showing key metrics like courses completed, skills acquired, and more.

One happy DataCamp for Business customer is Nielsen, which is tapping the company’s courses to “up-skill” its associates in data science and analytics.

“The breadth and quality of the curriculum, the hands-on approach to learning that pairs short videos that explain one concept at a time with in-browser coding exercises, as well as the depth of the resources available through the DataCamp community, all combine to address the broader need for data fluency across our organization,” Francesca Farinati, Nielsen’s data science global training leader, said.

DataCamp charges individual students $25 per month, and offers enterprise and professional tiers starting at $499 and $300 per year per user, respectively. (“Professional” customers miss out on capabilities like advanced reporting, data exporting, single sign-on, and a data API.)

“Our thesis supporting this investment is simple: the demand for increased data fluency is universal as enterprises attempt to compete more effectively in a world that is fundamentally more data driven — regardless of company size or industry segment,” Steve LeSieur, Spectrum Equity’s managing director, said of today’s announcement. “The platform that DataCamp CEO Jonathan Cornelissen, his co-founders and the rest of the team has built is best positioned to address this exploding demand with a distinctive and rapidly evolving product platform and a highly engaged global community.”

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