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A Note from Sebastian

Today, I announced a layoff at Udacity of 55 people, or about 13% of our teammates. Here is the note that I sent to the global Udacity team about it earlier this morning.


I have some difficult news.

After a thorough strategic review, and in response to increasing market headwinds, we are taking a number of proactive, but difficult steps today to make Udacity’s business more sustainable for the long term. These actions affect fixed costs, discretionary costs, and – unfortunately – our people. We have made the decision to move forward with layoffs today, which will impact 13% of our employees. Our CEO, Gabe, will also be leaving the company and I am taking over as Executive Chairman.

Before I get into the reasons for this decision, I want to recognize how difficult today will be for our team – especially the smart, talented, kind, and creative Udacians who are leaving us. You are incredible colleagues, teammates, and friends, and I am so grateful for everything you have given to our company and our mission during your tenure.

Making this decision

The decision to let people go is never easy, and is certainly not something we take lightly. At this point in time, after exhausting all other options, we do not see any other way forward.

While Udacity’s market opportunity remains strong, we must respond proactively to the effects we’re seeing on our business from the current macroeconomic environment. It is important to us that in making these difficult decisions, we remain committed to our company mission to train the world’s workforce in the careers of the future. We believe that creating a more sustainable cost structure is ultimately key to doing just that. While extremely difficult, we are confident that today’s actions are necessary to creating this sustainable path forward. It is our goal that this be the only round of layoffs we have to make.

Understanding today’s logistics

I want to ensure that everyone knows their standing with the company as quickly as possible, and that every departing Udacian has a personal conversation with a senior leader about this decision. In the next 15 minutes, Udacians who are impacted by these changes will receive a calendar invite from their CLT member and a member from our People team. In that meeting, you’ll review the details of your separation and have the opportunity to ask any questions you have.

While these conversations are never easy, if you receive an invite, it is important for you to join the conversation.

Once CLT members have met with all impacted Udacians, I will follow up with another message to confirm we have notified everyone impacted by the layoff. I’ll also share more about the additional changes we’ve made to ensure Udacity’s success going forward.



As I step in as Executive Chairman following Gabe Dalporto’s departure, I am confident that these changes, while difficult, will result in a more sustainable business going forward. Since the beginning, Udacity has been on an incredible journey, and I believe we are now poised to be able to truly deliver on our mission to train the world’s workforce in the careers of the future.


Sebastian Thrun
Sebastian Thrun
Sebastian Thrun is a scientist, educator, inventor, and entrepreneur. As the founder, president, and now executive chairman of Udacity, Sebastian’s mission is to democratize education by providing lifelong learning to millions of students worldwide. He is also the founder of Google X, where he led projects including the Self-Driving Car, Google Glass, and more. Previously, he led the Stanford Racing Team whose robot “Stanley” won the DARPA Grand Challenge. Sebastian has been named the 5th Most Creative Person in Business (Fast Company), among the 50 Smartest People in Tech (Fortune), and highlighted in 50 Best Inventions of 2010 (Time). He is the first recipient of the inaugural Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for Education, and is also featured in the recent film Lo & Behold: Reveries of the Connected World by award-winning writer and director Werner Herzog.