Coursera set to roughly double its private valuation in impending IPO

In a new S-1/A filing, Coursera set an initial IPO price range between $30 and $33 a share, signaling the market views its edtech business warmly ahead of its impending public offering.

Coursera will have 130,271,466 shares outstanding after its IPO, or 132,630,966 including its underwriters’ option. At $30 per share, the low end of the company’s IPO range and a share count inclusive of 2,359,500 shares reserved for its underwriting banks, the firm would be worth $3.98 billion. That number rises to $4.38 billion at $33 per share.

Coursera is being valued as a software company, likely a breathe-easy moment for still-private edtech companies, since the debut could be an industry bellwether.

This is a solid increase from Coursera’s last private-market valuation, which was around $2.4 billion when it raised a Series F round in October 2020.

For the bulls in the room, there’s a bigger valuation if you tinker with the numbers. In a fully diluted accounting, including in our calculation, shares that are issuable upon vested options and RSUs, Coursera’s share count rises to 166,006,474, or 168,365,974 if we count its underwriters’ option. At its most generous share count and highest projected price, Coursera’s valuation could reach $5.56 billion.

However, IPO-watching group Renaissance Capital comes to a smaller $5.1 billion figure for a midpoint-range, fully diluted valuation. That result excludes shares reserved for underwriters and equity currently present in vested RSUs.

Using the more modest $5.1 billion midpoint figure, Coursera would be worth around 17.5 times its 2020 revenue of $293.5 million. Using a run-rate figure calculated from the company’s Q4 2020 results, its multiple falls to just over 15x.

Coursera is therefore being valued as a software company, likely a breathe-easy moment for still-private edtech companies, since the debut could be an industry bellwether.

The valuation is also a vote of confidence that Coursera’s rising deficits are not even a valuation risk, let alone an existential threat to its business. In the four quarters of 2020, the edtech giant lost $14.3 million, $13.9 million, $11.9 million and $26.7 million, the final Q4 net loss being the largest among the time interval for which we have data.

From all appearances, investors are valuing Coursera on its growth, not its profitability — or lack thereof.

Helping push its losses higher are rising sales and marketing costs, something TechCrunch has written about in the past. In Q4 2019, for example, the company spent $16.7 million on sales and marketing activities. That figure rose to $35 million in Q4 2020.

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