Traffic at Coursera, the Mountain View-based online learning platform with university classes for anyone, is four to five times higher than usual, with thousands of universities requesting free access to their platform. At the same time, videoconferencing app Zoom has become central to countless companies where most employees are working from home. And grocery delivery app Instacart has seen a 150 percent increase in demand, with billions of dollars worth of groceries purchased through the app in the past three weeks.
The global coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on thousands of businesses large and small, shuttering restaurants, bars and many retail stores. Silicon Valley startups selling cars, homes and co-working space are struggling and starting rounds of layoffs. Already, more than 1 million Californians have filed for unemployment. But for some businesses, the pandemic and efforts to contain it have been a boon, boosting their popularity if not yet their revenue. Grocery stores, online delivery and the post office are all hiring. But not all the businesses seeing a rise in demand are as obviously tied to the response to the pandemic.
Among them is Coursera, which offers extremely popular series available to anyone for free on the science of well-being and machine learning. In Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by coronavirus, enrollment is up 200 percent, and a course from the Imperial College London on the science of COVID-19 has more than 66,000 students enrolled after launching less than two months ago.