Q&A With Code Academy: The Web Needs Architects and It Needs Construction Workers

Time to level up, young coder.

Code Academy co-founders, Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski are the quintessential startup duo. They met at Columbia, where Mr. Sims was studying political science and Mr. Bubinski was studying computer science. They worked on several projects together. Mr. Sims was the biz dev and product guy, Mr. Bubinski the coder.

“I kind of grew to hate it,” said Mr. Sims. “I wanted to be able to get my hands dirty and help build the ideas we were working on.” 

The pair was accepted to Y-Combinator, where they worked on a couple of different ideas. But the pain point they related to most was the gap in their coding skills. “I was a 1X developer, he was a 10X,” said Mr. Sims with a laugh.

Reading O’Reilly books and watching Kahn Academy videos wasn’t helping. So they ended up building an interactive lesson that taught coding by doing. “I hated seeing smart folks going into finance because they felt like computer science was something they couldn’t learn,” said Mr. Sims.

Turned out there were a lot of people like Mr. Sims. In the first week more than 200,000 people came to the site from over 200 different countries.

The hope now is that companies will build educational models to teach users the skills they are hiring for. That would allow Code Academy students to learn the bleeding edge skills that are in demand and employers to pick the most promising pupils. Right now Code Academy is focusing on hiring and perfecting the tools that let users build new courses so that they can crowdsource their lessons.

“When you are building a house, you need an architect, who has a high level understanding of what’s going on, and you need construction workers to execute that plan,” said Mr. Sims. “There are a lot of people without work in America and a lot of demand for people with skills in tech. So hopefully we can connect those two.” Q&A With Code Academy: The Web Needs Architects and It Needs Construction Workers