Benesse Holdings will invest in its longtime partner Udemy, a California-based online educational service firm. The investment will total $50 million (about 5.5 billion yen) through a third-party allocation of newly issued shares. The percentage of acquired shares is undisclosed but is seen to be less than 10% of total shares. Benesse aims to accelerate the introduction of Udemy’s services into the Japanese corporate sector and universities. Benesse’s goal is to offset the sluggish growth in its educational services for students by reinforcing services that target working adults.
Udemy Inc. is an educational start-up established in 2010. It operates the online platform Udemy, where individuals may pay to view video lectures on a wide range of topics. Udemy currently provides more than 150,000 lectures to over 50 million subscribers worldwide.
Benesse entered into a partnership with Udemy in 2015. It cooperated in the development of Udemy’s Japanese business, which now has hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Since 2019, Udemy has provided a service for corporate users that offers unlimited access to 3,600 lectures on artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital themes. Tens of thousands of employees of 100 firms, including Toyota and Softbank, have viewed the lectures. The pricing is slightly over 20,000 yen per employee per year for a company with a few hundred employees.
With the investment, Benesse plans to expand Udemy’s corporate customer base and increase the number of its corporate subscribers to a few thousand. It will also aim to introduce Udemy’s services to universities that want to offer information technology (IT) courses but have trouble finding lecturers.
Benesse receives a portion of Udemy’s sales as its commission. The percentage is expected to increase after the investment is made.