Coursera and 300+ Global Education IPOs

Coursera made its market debut on the New York Stock Exchange late March through an IPO and is now trading under the ticker symbol “COUR.” The company raised $520M and closed it’s first day of trading with a $5.9 billion market cap.

Education Intelligence Unit

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April 7, 2021

Coursera followed 300+ education companies before it to become a publicly listed company in March 2021, immediately becoming the 10th largest listed education company globally. There are now 45 listed education companies with a market cap greater than $1 billion.

Although still grossly underweight in the capital markets compared with other sectors, the number of education IPOs has seen healthy growth and then moderation over the past decade, closing out with 16 IPOs in 2020. Coursera’s IPO in early 2021 was a major milestone for the US market and global impact investors in general. As both an enterprise and consumer brand with very high brand recognition, Public Benefit Corporation status and over 80 million registered users, more than 60 million of those outside the United States, it’s a story many have followed or been part of perhaps as a learner on the platform.

Through the last decade however, Asia Pacific, predominantly China, was responsible for most IPOs with an explosion of HK and NYSE/NASDAQ IPOs through the middle of the decade which has moderated over the past few years in a challenging, up until recently, IPO market. 17zuoye was the standout IPO in 2020, representing a successful startup, then Unicorn and now listed company. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of 2020’s IPOs happened in the second half of 2020 with COVID dominating the first half.

Following Coursera’s IPO and with a flock of SPACs looking for merger targets, we expect a positive change, perhaps even a wave of exits over the next 24 months.

Performance-wise, 270 education stocks closed 2020 with a $296B market cap, up $75B over the full year with now 44 stocks > $1B market cap. 2020 saw two ‘take privates’ complete, 16 IPOs, 5 SPACs ready for launch on top of a massive organic K12 APAC gain, driving the lift in total value.

258 global education stocks started 2020 with a combined $223B Market Cap. The net $75B gain over the course of the year was in large part driven by five Chinese K12 stocks gaining $50B of the $95B gross gain in value. Chegg, Kahoot and Docebo added another $12B+ and 130+ other stocks contributed to the residual $33B gain.

Cogna (Kroton), YQUDS (Estácio) and Informa led the losses, together $7B+ of the gross $19B in value lost over 2020. 100+ other stocks contributed to the residual $12B loss. Instructure and Rosetta Stone completed their respective ‘take overs’ losing another $2B+ of value for the cohort.

16 IPOs added another $7.5B+ of value to finish the year with a combined $296B Market Cap for all education stocks. 17zuoye was the standout, leaving the list of startups Unicorns and finishing the year with a $2.4B market cap.

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