Dev Bootcamp No Longer Bootstrapped, Acquired by Kaplan

Dev Bootcamp No Longer Bootstrapped, Acquired by Kaplan


The coding bootcamp market just got a kick of its own: Kaplan Inc. will be acquiring Dev Bootcamp, one of the most recognizable names in the business. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Started in 2012, Dev Bootcamp is often regarded as the granddaddy of intensive programming bootcamps. The company has been bootstrapped from the beginning and has never taken investors despite numerous offers, Dev Bootcamp President Jon Stowe tells EdSurge.

But bootstrapping has its limits. Writing on the Dev Bootcamp blog, Stowe shared that Dev Bootcamp founder Shereef Bishay “wanted to untangle his personal finances from the financial future of Dev Bootcamp, and we began to look for a partner who would not only help us grow, but add a complementary set of skills and resources that are second to none in the industry."

The company had established a reputation for quality and selectivity--and for good reason: 85% of graduates find programming jobs within four months after finishing the program. Some suggest that part of Dev Bootcamp's success resulted from its careful choice of students: according to some reports, only 15% to 20% of applicants get in the program.

“People began saying that Dev Bootcamp is an elitist program. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. We definitely set a high bar, but we believe that anyone can code, and we needed to be more accessible,” Stowe tells EdSurge.

Scaling its program without diluting its mission meant Dev Bootcamp needed more capital. Stowe says the company had been approached by “dozens of investors,” but ultimately decided to pick Kaplan because of what his team saw as an alignment of mission and values.

In an age where so much of education and training is done online, says Stowe, Kaplan “understood that our model focuses on providing an immersive, human experience where our students work in pairs” and where “students learn not just to be programmers, but lifelong learners.”

Dev Bootcamp will retain its brand and management team and operate independently under Kaplan’s Advance division, which focuses on digital training. Stowe pointed to the case of Manhattan GMAT, a company acquired by Kaplan in 2011, as an example of how “Kaplan has purchased companies in the past and will run them successfully even if it is a competing service. They haven’t muddled the marketplace or tried to ‘Kaplan-ize’ it.”

Dev Bootcamp's success has inspired many competitors: A recent survey on coding bootcamps counted over 40 such programs (some of which, according to Stowe, were founded by Dev Bootcamp alumni). Most recently, NYC-based Flatiron School raised $5.5 million for its own 12-week programming bootcamp.

As Dev Bootcamp expands, Stowe also wants to increase opportunities for diverse populations. “One of the main questions as we grow is, ‘How do we continue to diversify our student community?’”

Dev Bootcamp students range from 18 to 60 year olds, Stowe shares. The nine-week program, which costs $12,000, currently offers a $500 scholarship for females, U.S. military veterans, and minorities from “groups underrepresented in the software engineering field.” It recently partnered with Levo League and Girl Develop It to provide more opportunities for women.

Based in San Francisco, Dev Bootcamp also operates programs in Chicago and New York. The company has about 30 teachers who teach across these three campuses, and by the end of 2014 it will have over 1,000 graduates.

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