Udacity, the $1 billion online education startup, has laid off about 20 percent of its workforce and is restructuring its operations as the company’s co-founder Sebastian Thrun seeks to bring costs in line with revenue without curbing growth, TechCrunch has learned. From the report: The objective is to do more than simply keep the company afloat, Thrun told TechCrunch in a phone interview. Instead, Thrun says these measures will allow Udacity from a money-losing operation to a “break-even or profitable company by next quarter and then moving forward.” The 75 employees, including a handful of people in leadership positions, were laid off earlier today as part of a broader plan to restructure operations at Udacity. The startup now employs 300 full-time equivalent employees. It also employs about 60 contractors. Udacity, which specializes in “nanodegrees” on a range of technical subjects that include AI, deep learning, digital marketing, VR and computer vision, has been struggling for months now, due in part to runaway costs and other inefficiencies. The company grew in 2017, with revenue increasing 100 percent year-over-year thanks to some popular programs like its self-driving car and deep learning nanodegrees, and the culmination of a previous turnaround plan architected by former CMO Shernaz Daver. New programming was added in 2018, but the volume slowed. Those degrees that were added lacked the popularity of some of its other degrees. Meanwhile, costs expanded and their employee ranks swelled.
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