From the detailed March Inside Higher Ed story on Coursera’s planned IPO:

Although it is still possible to audit many Coursera courses for free, the company has evolved significantly since its early days as a provider of massive open online courses, or MOOCS. The platform’s combination of paid nondegree certificates, stackable degrees and professional credentials has forged a company with an estimated value of between $2.4 billion and $5 billion.

“Wall Street is desperately seeking high-growth, consumer-based businesses like what Coursera has become,” [Daniel] Pianko said. “Massive eyeballs with a repeatable, freemium model drives the types of lofty valuations that the Coursera IPO achieves.”

The IPO has since come and gone, with the Coursera market value hovering just above the larger number. The Inside Higher Ed piece helps explain why the many-pivoted, money-losing firm has won investor faith:

Coursera reported that its average acquisition cost per student for online degree programs was under $2,000 for the two years ending in December. That figure is impressively low, said [Sean] Gallagher, [a Northwestern higher ed prof].

“Based on the financial details in the [IPO] filing, it looks like there are some real efficiencies in their ability to acquire customers,” he said.

Expect more desparate Wall Street seeking to come.