8 Takeaways from the CNBC Disruptor 50 List!

Now that all the excitement has settled down from the 2017 CNBC Disruptor 50 announcement, we can finally take a breath and reflect on what it all means. Probably needless to say, we were pretty overwhelmed and amazed by the list; we ended up in some pretty remarkable company! Airbnb, Lyft, Gingko Bioworks, Palantir, Cylance, and more.

In the interest of keeping this from turning into a sprawling expression of our feelings about being recognized in this fashion, we’ve instead organized our thoughts as …

8 Takeaways from the CNBC Disruptor 50 List!

  1. CNBCs criteria for inclusion makes this a really exciting award. Here’s how they describe it: “In the fifth annual Disruptor 50 list, CNBC features private companies in a range of industries — from biotech and machine learning to transportation and retail — whose innovations are changing the world.”
  2. We’re in pretty amazing company. Airbnb, Lyft, WeWork, Grab, Uptake Technologies, Houzz, Ginkgo Bioworks, Palantir Technologies, Cylance, and us!
  3. We moved up! Last year, we were Number 12, and this year, we broke into The Top 10.
  4. We’re four places more disruptive than Elon Musk’s most disruptive company. Take that, SpaceX! In all seriousness, we highlight this because we were just talking about Elon Musk and innovation in this post. It’s really a fascinating thing to think about. Given all the change to come as transformational technologies like AI, Deep Learning, Robotics, and more make their mark on the jobs landscape, the opportunity to essentially execute a preemptive career strike now, and prepare for what’s ahead, is really compelling. Think of it! Elon Musk is talking about the rarefied magic of bringing VR, AI, and Robotics together, and YOU could have that suite of skills in less time than it takes to complete community college!
  5. “The Experience” is increasingly important. A significant number of the brands occupying the upper echelons of this list offer “experiences” in some fashion or another. Whether it’s travel (Airbnb), transportation (Lyft, Grab), your workspace (WeWork), your home (Houzz), or entertainment (Jaunt), the quality and kind of experience provided is clearly important to people, and innovative thinking around what exactly “experience” means in today’s online and virtual worlds is disrupting many “traditional” fields. Given that Udacity’s primary offer is an online, virtual classroom, we feel strongly that our ever-strengthening commitment to providing an amazing classroom experience is definitely justified! (For more on this, please read Welcome To Your New Udacity Classroom.)
  6. Disruptive technologies are powering disruptive businesses. This may seem self-evident when phrased this way, but when you start to investigate the idea, some fascinating things emerge. Airbnb? They’re Number 1 on the list, and here is a post detailing the importance of Machine Learning to their business model: Airbnb is using machine learning to help hosts make as much money as possible. And where would Lyft (Number 2) and Grab (Number 4) be without Machine Learning? Here’s a post detailing Grab’s post-funding-round plans for investing in new technology: Grab raises $750 million to take on Uber in Southeast Asia. And how about Cylance (Number 9)? As described in this article, AI, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning techniques are all critical to the company’s success.
  7. Data, Data, Data. If you have ANY interest in a career in an exciting and disruptive field, then you should be mastering data science — in some form or another — pretty much starting yesterday. Whether it’s Business Analytics (Domo, Number 29), Deep Learning (SparkCognition, Number 20), or Digital Marketing (Persado, Number 48), the field almost seems not to matter; the point is, disruption runs on data!
  8. We just launched a course with Number 22! And you can read about it right here: Teaching Job Skills We KNOW You’ll Use: How We Created The “GitHub & Collaboration” Course

It’s hopefully obvious we’re having a bit of fun with this — after all, it’s not everyday you get to be listed as one of the 50 most disruptive companies in the world!

But it’s hopefully also clear that there are some really powerful takeaways on offer here. We’re excited to have made the list, of course. But we’re far more excited to see clear evidence that our students truly are poised to become the next generation of world-shaping innovators.

The learning paths our students have set themselves upon all lead right to a bright new future, and we’re proud to support them, and excited to see what they’ll build.


This post was written by Christopher Watkins, Senior Writer and Chief Words Officer, Udacity

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