It’s not often that a school administrator can count the “Call of Duty” video game as one of his or her past workplace pursuits.
But today is that day, as AltSchool has announced that Coddy Johnson, former executive from video game publisher Activision Publishing, has joined AltSchool’s founding team as Chief Operating Officer (COO).
Considering its record-breaking $100 million fundraising round last May, AltSchool has never been conventional when it comes to growth or strategy, especially where K-12 is concerned. But Ventilla is confident that Johnson is the right choice for the job.
“There aren’t a lot of people who have multiple times, managed a thousand-plus organization and done it in a way where anyone you talked to says they’re absolutely incredible from a leadership perspective,” Max Ventilla, AltSchool’s CEO, tells EdSurge. “I can tell you that even before his first day on the job, Coddy has already invested hundreds of hours to start ramping up his work with our education, technology, and operations teams.”
While at Activision, Johnson held several executive positions including COO of Studios, CFO, and Head of Operations, where AltSchool reports that he led his company’s strategy and operations to create “engaging experiences for communities of tens of millions.”
So then, what’s this video game company executive doing moving into the K-12 market?
Johnson does have some connections to the education space. For example, he brought a mentorship program for at-risk youth at SPARK-LA to Activision, and serves on the Board of Twigtale, which creates personalized books for children struggling with life transitions.
According to Johnson, he’s also come to AltSchool for more close-to-home reasons. “I heard about Altschool from a friend, and I fell in love with the approach,” shares the father of two daughters, the older of which will be attending the Palo Alto AltSchool next fall. “AltSchool is for me in many ways the culmination of two things: 1) a professional career built on working with technology to enable an engaged, connected communities and driving the operations to enable sound strategy and consistent processes, and 2) over a decade’s worth of efforts on issues I am passionate about, like education, poverty, and at-risk youth.”
The news comes approximately one month after AltSchool announced its new partner program, AltSchool Open. Ventilla reports that Johnson is “key to longterm growth” of AltSchool Open and other yet-to-be-decided business strategies, but at the moment will focus more broadly on “quality and communities,” ensuring that AltSchool doesn’t lose substance or consistency throughout its rapid growth.
Speaking of loss, there is one thing that seems to have gotten lost—or rather, cut—in the last few months. Recently, AltSchool leadership let go a handful of staff from its School Operations team. With the combination of downsizing and the sudden hire of a COO, one might wonder whether AltSchool will eventually shift focus from running schools to solely building (and selling) a platform.
According to Ventilla, he and his team are working to ensure that AltSchool has the “right team in the right roles” to achieve both purposes of serving current schools and supporting AltSchool Open’s external partners. However, he stresses one crucial detail.
“That’s not to say that we’re not ultimately hoping to both build and offer our platform to others. I’ve said from the start that none of us would be here if this were only about creating a private school that only a few families could attend,” he says.