Codecademy’s Quest to Connect Learners to Economic Opportunity

zach sims
About Codecademy
Published in
5 min readFeb 23, 2021

Today, we announced Codecademy’s Series D financing. To think about where we’re going, it’s important to remember how we got here in the first place. Codecademy started after realizing the tremendous gap between education and employment. The very same societal problems we set out to solve have been exacerbated further since:

  • The cost of higher education has increased at a marked rate and, with it, so too has the student debt crisis, while traditional education rarely leads to the right job outcome
  • The profile of the average student has changed, and many are now adults and in the workforce, unable to take full-time classes the same way they once used to
  • The technical skills required for jobs today change faster than ever before

In 2011, we saw these trends and launched Codecademy, our effort to build the easiest way to learn to code. We built a simple product, one that was built on providing an engaging, interactive, learn-by-doing focused experience to teach programming in a way that was flexible (so learners could learn anywhere and anytime) and accessible (low cost or free). After launch, tens of millions of people around the world used Codecademy to start their journey learning to code.

Our secret master plan in 2011 was:

  1. Help learners get the skills they need to find jobs and upgrade their careers
  2. Help companies stay relevant by equipping their employees with digital skills
  3. Build a platform to connect consumers and companies to each other and new opportunities based on those skills

Our Learners

We’ve been quietly executing on that vision ever since. Much of our story remains centered around individual learners — at this point, more than 50 million of them around the world have taken courses on Codecademy. They include people like Aabhusan, who learned to code this past year with Codecademy and then built a website in his home country of Nepal to help his fellow citizens learn more about COVID. Among them are also people like Kate, a stay-at-home mom for over 15 years who learned to code in her free time and secured a full-time job as a developer to become the sole provider for her family after her husband lost his job. Times like these remind us that what we’re doing matters: hundreds of thousands of people around the world use Codecademy every single day to learn the skills they need to find jobs, upgrade their careers, and live better lives.

We launched Codecademy Pro in 2016 to help our learners get to their goals even faster. With a focus on Career Upskillers (people learning skills to perform better in their existing jobs) and Career Switchers (those becoming full-time developers), we rolled out a ton of new, advanced curriculum and Career Paths to help our learners become Data Scientists, Engineers, or to use their skills in every field that technology has permeated (which, at this point, is everything!). We built exclusive community features and certifications to help our learners demonstrate their knowledge to future employers.

We built Pro not just to help subscribers, but also to help our learners in need. In 2020, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, we gave 100,000 subscriptions to K-12 learners in need while they were out of school, and another 100,000 subscriptions to people who were out of work or furloughed as a result of the pandemic, underlying our belief that we can do well by doing good as well.

Our Company Partners

Late last year, we launched Codecademy for Teams and embarked on the second part of our vision. After hearing repeatedly from our learners that they took Codecademy into their workplace to deploy their skills and upskill their coworkers, we built something specifically for them. Now, teams at hundreds of companies around the world use Codecademy to make sure they’re on the cutting edge of technology instead of getting cut out of it.

Our Future

While we’ve been around for ten years, we believe the problem we’re solving is a generational one and that we’re just getting started. We’re still building a world where anyone can access economic opportunity and all it takes is an internet connection and the drive to learn. We raised $40m on the success of Codecademy Pro and Codecademy for Teams to bring our vision to fruition. Our focuses remain the same:

1. Help learners get the skills they need to find jobs and upgrade their careers: with Codecademy Pro, we serve more than 150,000 paying subscribers a month and millions of free learners. But we’re just getting started. Over the next couple of years, you’ll see us:

  • Teach more skills: our name may be Codecademy, but we want to teach you any digital skill that can help you find a job. Programming and Data Science are just the beginning.
  • Serve the world: while our learner base today is majority-US, we know that the future isn’t. We’re excited to work with our learners in other countries to build for them and for the learners of the future, who almost certainly won’t look like the software developers of the past.
  • Pioneer new ways of teaching: when we first launched Codecademy, teaching with an in-browser development environment was new. We think Zoom isn’t the future of learning. Instead, we’ll bring you learning that adapts to you, is interactive and fun, and is with you wherever you are.

2. Help companies stay relevant by equipping their employees with digital skills: Codecademy for Teams is just scratching the surface of how we can help companies. Already, we’ve seen everyone from Fortune 500s to small businesses use Codecademy to help onboard new team members, upskill existing ones, and build amazing career mobility inside their companies. Teams is only our first foray into helping companies: we know that creating better places to work and more efficient companies will help to build a more technology-oriented and efficient world.

3. Build a platform to connect consumers and companies to each other and new opportunities based on those skills: join us to help build the next phase of Codecademy. With more than 50 million consumer learners and hundreds of companies as clients, we have the making of a two-sided marketplace to help them find everything from employment to the next API to use.

At Codecademy, we’ve never been a team to think small. When we started the company, investors around the world told us that building a large company in education was hard. Nearly a decade later, we’re still here and proving them wrong, with a company that’s growing quickly and sustainably (we’re cash flow positive!) and, most importantly, helping millions of learners around the world. Our new financing helps us double down in all these areas and more to bring economic opportunity to untold millions more around the world. If you’re looking to level up in your career, I hope you’ll give us a chance. And if you want to have a greater impact on the world around you, come join our team!



zach sims
About Codecademy

co-founder and ceo of @codecademy. we teach tens of millions of people around the world the skills they need to find jobs.