Hyderabad: Open online education provider Coursera Inc. has raised $49.5 million in venture funding from a group of investors including Times Internet Ltd, the online arm of Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd, coinciding with the US-based firm’s plans to tap the Indian market to grow its user base.

The latest funding, the first of a third venture capital round, was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), one of Coursera’s original investors. Coursera expects to raise an additional $10.5 million to close so-called Series C funding at $60 million by early autumn, it said on Tuesday.

Existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers and International Finance Corp. also participated in the latest round.

NEA’s managing general partner Scott Sandell has taken a seat on Coursera’s board as a result of the investment.

Times Internet was the only new investor in the current round.

Existing investors GSV Asset Management and Learn Capital will take part in the second phase of the third venture capital round.

Coursera will use the funds to source new content, expand its global reach, and continue to improve the learning experience for its users.

Times Internet will provide Coursera marketing, advertising and strategic support to “build awareness of Coursera in India".

“Coursera is the gold standard for the emerging wave of education technology companies," Satyan Gajwani, chief executive officer of Times Internet, said in a statement. “We are excited to bring Times Internet’s growth capabilities behind such a strong product, and bring high quality, affordable digital education to millions of Indians," he added.

With one million users, India ties with China as the biggest source of online learners for the massive open online course (MOOC) provider after its home base, the US. Close to 75% of its users are outside the US. Emerging markets in Latin America, India and China are Coursera’s fastest growing sectors.

Founded in 2012, Coursera offers 1,100 courses to nearly 15 million users worldwide. The courses are available to anyone free of cost, but users will have to pay a fee to earn a certificate of completion.

“We are excited to support the growth of this high-impact enterprise, which is transforming lives through access to the world’s best educational institutions," Sandell said.

The strategic investment by Times Internet in Coursera is part of the Times Global Partner initiative, where it ties up with international digital properties such as Uber, Gawker Media, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Advertising Age, Askmen, College Humor and Life Hacker, to build local partnerships.

The companies did not disclose the size of the investment by Times Internet or the stake it would get in Coursera as a result of the partnership.

Times Internet is a subsidiary of Bennett Coleman, which publishes India’s biggest newspapers The Times of India and The Economic Times.

“Indian learners on Coursera are uniquely focused on building skills in business and technology that are immediately applicable in their careers more so than in any other country," Rick Levin, chief executive of Coursera, said. “The new strategic guidance from Times Internet will allow us to expand awareness of the affordable credentials available on Coursera from top universities to anyone with an Internet connection."

HT Media Ltd, publisher of Mint and Hindustan Times, competes with Bennett Coleman Co. Ltd in some markets.

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