Unable to ‘Reach a Sustainable Business Model,’ Dev Bootcamp Will Shut...

Digital Learning

Unable to ‘Reach a Sustainable Business Model,’ Dev Bootcamp Will Shut Down in December

By Tony Wan     Jul 12, 2017

Unable to ‘Reach a Sustainable Business Model,’ Dev Bootcamp Will Shut Down in December

7/13: This post has been updated with comments from Dev Bootcamp president, Tarlin Ray, and John Polstein, CEO of Kaplan Test Prep.

Dev Bootcamp, a pioneer in the coding school industry that was among the first to offer short-term, intensive programs to help learners acquire web development and programming skills, announced it will be shutting its doors on December 8.

In an email, the company stated that “we’ve determined that we simply cannot reach a sustainable business model without compromising our mission of delivering a high-quality coding education that remains accessible to a diverse population of students.”

The company was founded in 2012, and had bootstrapped its growth until its acquisition by Kaplan in 2014. That decision was driven by money. Jon Stowe, Dev Bootcamp’s president during the transaction, wrote that the company’s co-founder and first CEO, 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.”

It appears that the Kaplan ownership did not stave off the financial concerns for long. Shortly after the company announced its impending closure, it offered this response for the decision on Twitter:

In an email to EdSurge, Dev Bootcamp’s current president Tarlin Ray wrote that “Dev Bootcamp leadership, in partnership with Kaplan, made the decision to wind down operations.” The difficult decision, he added, “was the result of a combination of factors: low barriers to entry for the industry, the challenge of differentiating a quality product in the current marketing environment, and the significant additional investment required to maintain a lasting presence over the long term.”

There’s one last hurrah: Dev Bootcamp’s final cohort will start on July 17 and finish in December. The company says it will continue to provide career services and support for “at least six months” following the last graduation.

Dev Bootcamp was among the vanguard in the “bootcamp” industry that now numbers more than 420 such schools, according to a tally from Course Report, an aggregator of such programs. Despite the influx of programs, however, “competition was not a primary factor in the decision, which had more to do with the viability and long-term sustainability of the business model,” John Polstein, CEO of Kaplan Test Prep (the division to which Dev Bootcamp belonged), wrote in an email to EdSurge.

On its website Dev Bootcamp claims to have helped “more than 2,700 students develop meaningful careers in technology or tech-related fields,” at companies including Forbes, Google and Scholastic. From its home base in San Francisco, the company expanded its on-campus programs to Austin, Chicago, New York, San Diego and Seattle. Depending on location, tuition ranged from $12,700 to $13,950 for the 18-week program.

Still, “tuition costs were not enough to cover day-to-day operations of running our campuses,” Ray wrote. Dev Bootcamp currently has a staff of 175, including full-time instructors and part-time employees.

The bootcamp industry “is still in its early stages, and we’ve seen that the lack of regulation in relation to advertising and marketing cultivates an environment of inflated and misleading claims,” Polstein added. Kaplan currently does not offer other coding schools or programs, but “we remain convinced there is a marketplace need for services that help close the technology skills gap and that provide greater access to tech talent, and we will continue to look for opportunities to make a positive impact.”

Below is the company’s email announcement about winding down.

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