You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Codecademy, the free online coding school, raises another $30M led by Naspers

TechCrunch TechCrunch 12/07/2016 Ingrid Lunden

Codecademy, an online coding school with 16 million registered users, has built out its footprint without charging its students a single penny to use it. Now, as more questions arise about how and when the startup might start monetizing its services, the startup is announcing $30 million in new funding that could be an indication of what might come next.

Naspers, the (for-profit) media giant based out of South Africa, is leading the Series C round, which the company says it will use to continue to expand its product globally and to develop more platforms for using it, such as mobile.

Others in the round include previous investors Union Square Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, Index Ventures and Sir Richard Branson. Codecademy is not disclosing its valuation but we are trying to find out. The funding takes the total raised by Codecademy to $42.5 million.

There is no word today on what new services Code Academy might explore in the future, but earlier this year Zach Sims, Codecademy’s CEO and co-founder, hinted on what might be coming on the way: “There have been a lot of requests from consumers, government bodies and enterprises for additional services,” he said in an interview with TechCrunch. “Prosumer tiers, additional content, mentoring, or even helping you get from zero to a full job and charging a fee for that,” are all areas he said are being considered. Personal coaching and more material is already offered in separate tier that costs $20 per month.

Most of the firm’s online courses are free, but Codecademy offers users personal coding coaches, realistic project-building experiences and other supplemental material for $19.99 a month.

“We’re looking to figure out the most scalable model for us, and that is one of the benefits [of growing without the pressure of revenues],” he said, adding that there are “many avenues” and “a clear path to profitability.”

The market that Codecademy — based out of New York but incubated at Y Combinator in 2011 — is tackling is a massive one.

There is a technology skills gap today both in terms of what is being taught in the classroom, and in terms of what the current workforce knows and what kinds of jobs need to be filled (or businesses need to be created): technology is everywhere now, and that means we need tech skills in all industries and levels of jobs.

On top of this, there is also a large addressable market for its courses, with now more than 3 billion people online. (Recall that Codecademy says currently it has only 16 million registered users.)

The startup today focuses on different programming languages and components like HTML/CSS, Javascript/jQuery, Python, Ruby, PHP, and APIs. The premise is not only to learn directly from the lessons but to do so by simulating a classroom-like situation, where the code and other work that you produce gets feedback from others also on the platform.

Codecademy is not the only online platform that helps people learn to code. Others in the same space include Udemy, LinkedIn-owned,, Coursera, Udacity, Pluralsight, Khan Academy and Treehouse. On top of this, there is an even longer list of companies that are developing online learning tools, from pure-play education specialists to companies like Amazon, which potentially also lays the groundwork for developing content that targets the same skills gap that Codecademy seeks to address.

In that sea of competition, one of Codecademy’s unique selling points has been that it is free to use. That lowers the barrier of entry for those curious to try something out, although some have noted that it also fails to go far enough in its teaching and so serious students eventually have to look elsewhere. (Indeed, developing deeper, higher levels of learning a particular skill is one obvious area for monetizing, as Sims had pointed out.)

More to the point, the existence of so many competitors points to the fact that Codecademy has tapped into a bigger wave of interest in learning more about how computer programming works. “Since we founded Codecademy in 2011, we have seen an explosion of interest in learning to code as a key component of a 21st century education,” said Zach Sims, CEO of Codecademy in a statement. “With millions of monthly users, and more than 50 percent of those outside the US, there is a great opportunity in partnering with Naspers to expand our business to deliver a wider breadth of courses in more languages and new geographies to create an education that allows anyone to access economic opportunity.”

As part of the round, Larry Illg, CEO of Naspers Ventures, has joined Codecademy’s Board of Directors.

“Traditional universities are poorly equipped to meet the evolving demands of technology students and employers, and Codecademy fills an important and valuable gap in the market,” said Larry Illg, Naspers Ventures CEO. “The quality of the Codecademy product and the team’s execution have enabled a global footprint today and positions it well for future expansion.”

See our full interview with Sims here:

More from TechCrunch

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon