Course Hero, EdTech Unicorn Once Valued at $3.6B, Makes Deals

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The last time it was valued by investors at $3.6 billion, learning course Hero cut 15% of its workforce, or 42 people — its first round of layoffs in 17 years, TechCrunch has learned from multiple sources.

“The layoffs are being made as part of a strategic effort to align the Course Heroes business line for future growth,” a spokesperson confirmed. The company said it does not anticipate layoffs in the future.

“Part of this transition support includes several months of severance, health care benefits until the end of June, providing evacuation and immigration support services, and working with individuals with special needs to do everything we can to ease their transition,” the spokesperson said.

The staffing cuts come after Andrew Grayer, co-founder of the course hero himself, rare edtech unicorn, stepped down as CEO four months ago. Course Hero was then subsumed under its parent company, Learneo, which took that multibillion-dollar valuation and named Grayer as CEO.

He replaces John Peacock, who was previously VP of Product at the company. The resignation appears to be one of the new CEO’s first significant changes to the business since taking over. Peacock sent an email to employees this week explaining the changes.

“This is the first time we’ve done this much work in Course Hero’s 17 years, and it’s not a decision we’ve made lightly,” reads the email, obtained by TechCrunch. “The moment we step in, it follows a careful discussion with the leadership team.” He went on to say that the strike was to meet the needs of the “fast growing” sector and was “absolutely essential” for the company’s future.

In the year Course Hero, launched in 2006, was somewhat allergic to venture capital until recently. After the company launched, it waited eight years to raise a $15 million Series A round. Then, after nearly another six years without raising venture capital, Course Hero closed two rounds of financing in 2020.

Then in the year In 2021, the edtech company announced another round of capital: a $380 million Series C at a valuation of $3.6 billion. A little over a year has brought a 227.3% increase in Core Hero’s valuation. With new capitalization and a wider view of the overall reachable market, the company began assembling businesses, including Scribr and LitCharts, a SparkNotes spin-off. Given today’s balance sheet, it is not clear how the procurement process will change.

The business tells TechCrunch that CourseHero and Learneo are cash flow positive and profitable on an adjusted EBITDA basis.

If you have a juicy or top tip about happenings in the venture and startup world, you can reach Natasha Mascarenhas on Twitter @nmasc_ or via Signal at +1 925 271 0912. Identity requests will be honored.

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