over a decade ago, when i was starting out as an entrepreneur in the valley, things felt pretty concentrated in and around the bay area. that’s not the case today. less than a year ago, i met sahil of gumroad, who had just turned 19 yet possessed so much experience already. as we got to know each other, i also got to know zach of codecademy, which was taking off in its own way. recently, we at kleiner were lucky enough to get to know zach and his team and are proud to be new investors in the company. (and, as an interesting aside, it turns out that sahil and zach are old friends, having met in china at a conference almost five years ago.)
i am sure most of you have heard of codecademy by now, but briefly — the company has created an online learning platform for others to learn about software development. and, it comes at a very opportune time, when a number of large trends are about to converge. in the immediate sense, we in the valley and tech community feel the shortage of available technical talent on a daily basis. at the same time, educational programs at middle and high schools, and even colleges, aren’t producing enough graduates ready to work in this sector, and in some cases, missing great opportunities to expose younger folk to the joys of programming. and on the ground, early-stage companies are beginning to need technical experience within its traditionally nontechnical teams, such as business development (through apis), marketing (growth), and sales (systems).
there’s also a personal attachment for me. as someone who grew up as a geek in the valley (self-taught basic & pascal on the apple ][+), and now as a father to a little one about to start school soon, i think about the democratization of information and knowledge that the internet and our social networks provide to future generations. codecademy is a powerful example of that democratization, a platform so simple yet deep it can truly attract anyone of any gender, race, or class.
i am so excited to work with codecademy, zach, ryan, and his team. specifically, i’ll be helping them scale their company, with a particular focus on the engineering team. a few times a month over the weekend, ryan and zach and i hop onto skype and check-in about how their recruiting is going, as well as management issues they face. i’m 3,000 miles away, but feel close to the challenges they seek to overcome. and, a nice side benefit is that it will put me in new york city a bit more often, too ;) ultimately, we all believe that zach, ryan, and the team can take codeacademy to the masses, to attract anyone worldwide who harbors dreams and desires of designing or engineering software for the platforms of today and tomorrow.