Jeff Maggioncalda is the CEO of Coursera, the open online course provider that works alongside some of the best universities in the world to offer online courses, certifications, and degrees in a wide array of subjects. Prior to joining Coursera, he spent almost two decades as the CEO of Financial Engines Inc, an investment advisory company founded by Maggioncalda and Nobel Prize winner William Sharpe in the mid-1990s. Having been instrumental in taking Financial Engines public in 2010, he’s now set to do the same for Coursera as the company prepares to file for its initial public offering. Find out more as we reveal ten things you didn’t know about Jeff Maggioncalda.
1. He’s a Stanford graduate
You wouldn’t expect a man who’s made his name in the education sector to be poorly educated, and you’d be right, at least in Maggioncalda’s case. In 1991, he graduated with a BA in Economics and English from Stanford University. During his time there, he earned a Firestone Medal for his economics thesis, “A Comprehensive Real Estate Pricing Model.” In 1994, he returned to education at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, graduating in 1996 with an MBA.
2. He began his career as an analyst
After graduating from Stanford, Maggioncalda took a job as an analyst at Cornerstone Research. During his time with the company, he was responsible for conducting quantitative analysis to support expert witness testimonies in business litigation. From there, he spent a brief period as a summer associate with McKinsey & Company, where he was instrumental in developing payment solutions for banking clients.
3. He founded Financial Engines in 1996
In 1996, Maggioncalda decided to indulge his entrepreneurial spirit when he co-founded Financial Engines alongside economics Nobel Prize winner Bill Sharpe. To say it was a success would be an understatement. Just a small sample of its achievements include raising $130 million in private funding from VCs, private equity, and strategic investors; organically increasing revenues from $0 to $275 plus million; increasing profits from $0 to $100 million, and developing 11 patents. By the time the company was acquired for $3 billion in March 2018, it was the largest independent registered investment advisor in America.
4. He’s a board member for Silicon Valley Bank
Since 2011, Maggioncalda has served as a board member for Silicon Valley Bank. In addition to serving on the Compensation Committee and Credit Committee, he also acts in an advisory position to senior management.
5. He was appointed the CEO of Coursera in 2017
Maggioncalda was appointed the CEO of Coursera in June 2017, five years after the company was founded by Stanford University’s computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng. The company specializes in providing online courses, certificates, and degrees in a variety of subjects ranging from data science to anthropology. With over 46 million learners worldwide, it now ranks as one of the largest providers of content and credentials in the world. In addition to working alongside some of the world’s best universities and colleges, it also works with numerous industry leaders to provide vocational and skills-based training.
6. He thinks qualifications will become even more valuable in the future
The educational landscape is unquestionably changing, and online providers like Coursera have a lot to do with that. But what kind of impact will it have on the value of learning credentials in the future? In Maggioncalda’s opinion, academic qualifications will soon become even more valuable than they already are. Speaking to goldmansachs.com, he explained how he believes that qualifications will become increasingly in demand. “What will be the demand for learning credentials? Where a credential is a signal sent by an institution that a given individual has learned a set of knowledge and skills. And the value of a credential generally is, how valuable are the underlying skills that that credential is signaling? How credible and selective is the institution who is signaling them? So, I believe, we don’t know for sure, but I think it’s pretty clear to me that learning credentials will become more valuable not less valuable in a world where content is made almost commoditized,” he explained.
7. He took a two-year career break
In 2015, Maggioncalda decided to take a career break. He ended up spending the next two and a half years traveling around Europe, South Africa, China, and Southeast Asia with his wife. “We drove from Berlin to Munich. We went through all the Indonesian islands. We went to Komodo and saw komodo dragons – it was really extraordinary,” he shared during an interview with News Break. The experience proved a learning curve… in more way than one. “I realized I’m a learner,” he said about the trip. “Adopting a growth mindset, being open-minded, being curious, being open-hearted to new people and new ideas and learning is important right now. The world is going to look fundamentally different – and that will help you become a pioneer in the new normal.”
8. He thinks that good mental health is key to productivity
If there’s one thing that Maggioncalda believes is crucial to productivity, it’s good mental health. To him, it’s the foundation for building a strong career and performing at the top of your game. As to which Coursera courses he’d recommend to support the endeavor, he’d choose “The Science of Well-Being,” which teaches students how to make the kind of choices that will make them stronger and more centered, and “Finding Purpose and Meaning in Life,” which aims to teach the value of finding a meaningful path in life.
9. He wants to become a digital nomad
Speaking to The Financial Post about what he hopes to do after the pandemic is over, Maggioncalda revealed his dream of ditching the routine and taking to the road. “My dream in the new normal is to become a nomadic CEO, to travel with my wife everywhere around the world where we have offices,” he shared. “Rather than just be there for a few days, I’ll stay there for two or three weeks.”
10. His first job was delivering newspapers
Maggioncalda’s first-ever job was as a paperboy at the age of 11 years old. He did it in partnership with his brother, making around $25 a month delivering papers at 3 in the morning every Wednesday around their neighborhood in Pacifica, California.