With 24 Million Students, Codecademy Is Bigger Than You Thought

Apr 23 2014, 10:56am CDT | by

Way back in the heady days of early 2012, Codecademy became a darling of New York tech world after attracting 200,000 students in seven days through its wildly popular Code Year campaign. There were write-ups in just about every press outlet you can imagine, including this one. After that splash of fame though, the company, which offers interactive online tutorials in computer programming languages like Python, Ruby and Javascript, hasn’t made much of a fuss since it raised a $10 million Series B round in June 2012.

Today it’s come out of PR dormancy with some large numbers to share. According to Zach Sims, the company’s 23 year-old CEO, 24 million people have taken a course on the site. That’s translated into 1 billion lines of code and the creation of 100,000 student-made courses.

Though vague—that 24 million user number includes those who completed a problem and never returned, along with those who’ve stuck with it for years—it’s still an impressive figure. When compared to other online education companies, who appear to use the same metric, it looks even more impressive.

Coursera, for example, boasts 7.4 million students while Udacity, run by ex-Googler Sebastian Thrun, last reported 1.6 million in November 2013. EdX also last reported 1.6 million. Udemy, meanwhile, is probably somewhere between 1 and 2 million.

So Codecademy, which is only tackling a niche in online education, albeit an important one, appears to be leading the entire space in terms of registered users. And by “leading” I mean crushing its nearest competitor by a factor of more than three.

And then there’s Treehouse, a Florida-based company that charges $25-$50 monthly for access to coding courses. It’s well funded by the likes of Chamath Palihapitiya and Greylock Partners. Though it appears to have less than 100,000 users, those users pay. Meaning the company has one thing Codecademy that does not: millions of dollars in sales.

Sims, now the head of a 23-person company, has striven for scale rather than revenue to date, the former of which he’s accomplished. He aims to unveil a business model by the end of 2014. He didn’t offer much detail beyond asserting that the company is teaching millions of people valuable, directly applicable skills that could easily translate into job offers and salary increases. “There’s a ton of value there,” he says.

He also hinted at broader course offerings to come, likely computer-related subjects like web design and data science.

In the meantime the company is releasing a redesign of the platform, three months in the making. The new design will help students create shareable projects and webpages, like a replica of the Airbnb homepage. Currently students focus on answering discrete computer science problems.

Follow me @JJColao and on Facebook.

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