Growth phase consolidation in coding bootcamp industry?

Kaplan announced yesterday they are shutting down Dev Bootcamp because since they bought DBC in 2014, they’ve tried to find a model that maintains quality, increases access, and is profitable. After several years, 3,000 graduates, and many attempts, Kaplan was unable to find a viable business model.

Darrell Silver has an interesting perspective on innovation in higher ed and why Kaplan struggled to accomplish this: “Dev Bootcamp got acquired too early. Now it’s out of business.”

DBC is a great brand as an early pioneer of coding bootcamps and Kaplan certainly has the balance sheet to keep investing in it. Thus while shutting it down is surprising on one level, on another it’s expected.

Skills Fund works with more than 50 bootcamps and we've been forecasting for sometime that a consolidation wave is coming within the bootcamp industry. There are just too many schools for them all to be profitable. Consolidation in growing industries happens all the time — from retail banks to airlines to gas stations to ERP software firms, industries with increasing customers and revenue often go through a consolidation phase on the path to profitability and sustainability.

Additionally, history is rife with early products and companies not ultimately winning. DBC may have been one of the original bootcamps, but like betamax, Palm’s Trio, Friendster and MySpace, Netscape, and TiVo, early pioneers often get eclipsed by later movers (VHS, iPhone, Facebook, Explorer, cable company DVRs).

With employers still needing to fill millions of tech and middle skills jobs — and innovation going to continue creating whole new categories of jobs for which people will need to get skilled — the bootcamp industry overall should continue to see enrollment growth for years to come even as it consolidates.

Skills Fund is committed to supporting Dev Bootcamp’s team members and students throughout the coming months and will serve as a continued resource for those prospective students interested in pursuing a web development accelerated learning skills training program.

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