Those who can code may land well-paying jobs. Those who build the tools to teach coding can win even more dollars in the form of venture capital.
That’s the case for Codecademy, which has raised $30 million in a Series C round led by Naspers, a South Africa-based media conglomerate. Existing investors that include Union Square Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, Index Ventures and Sir Richard Branson also chipped in.
Founded in 2011, Codecademy was among the first to offer online, browser-based coding exercises and tutorials that has since inspired imitators and competitors. At the time, company co-founder and CEO Zach Sims recalls “being told repeatedly that this would not be a skill that would be taught in schools.” But today, he credits efforts led by businesses, Code.org and local goverments in “creating an attitude shift toward programming education.”
The New York City-based startup, which offers tutorials for about a dozen popular coding languages, currently claims more than 25 million users. Roughly half of them hail from outside the U.S., thanks to partnerships with foundations and government bodies that support the translation and implementation of the service in countries such as Brazil, Estonia, France and the UK.
Last summer, the company launched Codecademy Pro, a subscription service that promises a personalized learning plan along with additional content, quizzes, projects and on-demand access to an advisor. This offering currently costs $20 per month has “tens of thousands of active users,” according to Sims.
While roughly 25 percent of Codecademy’s users are in K-12, he says the company is “doubling down on our original approach” to serve lifelong learners. Along with building new features, adding mobile support and expanding the product offerings, the company plans to grow from 29 to 50 full-time employees by year’s end.
Those who seek to learn programming chops today have an abundance of options in the form of video tutorials, MOOCs and off-line coding bootcamps. Some programs even offer a money-back guarantee if learners can’t land a job after graduating. Codecademy doesn’t make any job placement claims, or even offer certificates of completion; rather, Sims believes that each learner’s project portfolio will attest to one’s skills. He’s committed to “giving opportunities to anyone and everyone to learn new skills for economic mobility opportunities.” That may mean landing a job at a blue-chip tech firm—or simply creating a website for one’s business.
Today there are 91 full-time coding bootcamps that serve nearly 18,000 students, according to Course Report, which publishes an annual report on these programs. But this industry’s rapid growth gives Sims a little cause for concern, especially as “the notion of the three-month program that ends with a $100,000 job has become a little oversold.”
This deal marks Naspers’ third edtech deal in three months, following its $60 million investment in Udemy in June and a lead role in Brainly’s $15 million Series B round. “With these companies, we still think they are all in the beginning of the journeys but have the global platform and potential to grow across the world,” says Jill Williams, Communications Partner at Naspers Ventures.