Shernaz Daver, Chief Marketing Officer at Udacity, has announced she is leaving the company. She is credited with helping the company to make a decisive turnaround while recovering from its failures in education early on.
Udacity has about 3,000 students registered for nano-degree programs, with about 18,000 number of graduates and with growing numbers of students got placed in the new profession. But, this was not the story earlier. However, in 2013 when Daver joined the board the Udacity came into picture with the history of unsuccessful venture into great going higher education, which you can compare with San Francisco State University.
“In the early days, which we don’t often talk about, we had a little bit of a fiasco,” said Sebastian Thrun, founding member of Udacity.
Thrun and Daver met at a weekend pitch for Google Ventures 2013. Daver was the consultant to Google Ventures; she was impressed with Thrun’s tone and decided to join his company. Thrun also mentioned that “We invented a much more vocational style of education, which is much shorter and much more focused,”
“At that time [joining an education startup] was really difficult because everyone said that these MOOCs were going to come and put existing colleges out of business,” Daver recalled.
“The company was really in bad shape,” Thrun said. “She turned the company around.”
Daver is responsible for creating a lifelong learning platform, and she is also looking into the nanodegree platform. Daver also directed the evolution of Udacity’s content, and she forged long-term relationships with companies that hire Udacity graduates.
Two years ago, the only partners with Udacity were AT&T and Google; now, they have 51 companies, from Lyft to BMW, Volvo, IBM and Nvidia. Their success has attracted older students who are willing to pay to get trained in these areas.
Now, with the business reaching its goals, Daver said it was time to move on.
“It’s a sad day for me,” says Thrun. But the Udacity founder said Daver’s skills should be put to work at a company who can use them. “If people stay in one job they tend to have less impact.”