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North Star Podcast

May 18, 2020

My guest today is Matt Cooper, the CEO of Skillshare — a subscription-based online learning platform where people can take classes on-demand. The main categories are creative arts, design, entrepreneurship, lifestyle, and technology. Before joining Skillshare, Matt was the CEO of Visually, an online marketing place for creative work. And before that, he was the VP of Operations for oDesk, the world’s largest marketplace for online work now known as UpWork. 

Matt and I spoke about the future of education, online and offline. We discussed different business models for online creators, such as Skillshare’s subscription model and the a-la-carte model that I use with Write of Passage. We also talk about what it takes to be successful running an online course, from creating a curriculum to entertaining your students to building an online audience. Please enjoy my conversation with Matt Cooper.


1:55- Skillshare’s model of education. The accessibility of a subscription model. How Skillshare uses behavior to build their algorithms.

11:11- Skillshare's success and failures moving into business education. The benefits of using Skillshare for teachers. Skillshare's revenue model and why they are leaning towards shorter lessons.

15:08-How teachers should tailor their courses for online learning. The production style and schedule of a Skillshare Original class. Why the best teachers are not always the best experts. 

22:17 How teachers should consider personality when creating their online materials. Matt's career creating businesses that help freelancers- from unemployment to Skillshare. Why the human element drives Matt's business sense.

30:04- What Matt loves about the open marketplace model. Supply and demand in open market learning. International pricing as an opportunity to build markets. How bundling may be the future of growing certain international markets.

40:28- Matt's experience with education and why there are so many companies based in Plano, TX. Why Skillshare is the new community college. What Matt would do if he was the president of an Ivy League School. Matt's vision for a more efficient model of higher education. 

51:30- The value and the cost of a liberal arts education.

59:46- How remote work can both change the quality of life of employees and give companies access to talent they aren't competing with locals for. Why David and Matt bike in New York. Tik tok and the future of production. 

1:07:40- Why completion rate is not the most important metric for Skillshare. The challenge of determining user intent. Who is doing the best on search and browse. How Skillshare manages feedback and the social aspects of learning.