GA is Changing the Face of Education around the World
By Todd Chaffee and James Newell
General Assembly, or GA as it is affectionately known, announced this morning that it closed its most recent round of funding with Institutional Venture Partners (IVP) as the lead investor.
For those who don’t know our firm, IVP is a leading later-stage venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, CA. We have $4 billion in committed capital and we are currently deploying IVP XIV, a $1 billion fund. Founded in 1980, we have a long history of backing disruptive companies that transform industries and create thousands of jobs. We love working with talented entrepreneurs to help them create and grow great portfolio companies like Dropbox, HomeAway, Juniper, Kayak, Netflix, Polycom, Shazam, Snapchat and Twitter. With today’s investment, we are incredibly pleased to welcome GA to the IVP family.
GA launched in 2011 to build a community around technology education and it quickly evolved into an ideal place for students to gain the key skills they need to pursue a career in technology, business and design. We were eager to partner with GA for many reasons, chief among them:
The opportunity to work with a great team
GA was founded as a place where passionate people could collaborate, share ideas and learn from each other. The team at GA embodies this heritage of collaborative creativity, and they have made fantastic additions to the executive ranks as the company has scaled across borders and channels (offline and online). As we met people in various functions and levels in the GA organization, from instructors to regional directors to the executive suite, it was clear this was a talented, mission-driven team eager to empower GA graduates to pursue the work they love.
Education is moving toward outcomes, not credentials
The traditional game plan of “study hard, get a degree, get a good job” isn’t working today. An incredible number of college graduates can’t find jobs today. There is a huge gap between what is being taught in colleges and what is needed in the workplace today. With the flood of technology pouring into the workplace, our traditional education system simply can’t keep up with the pace of change and has fallen way behind. College graduates are leaving top colleges without the skills needed to excel in today’s jobs. They are “well educated” but they carry too much debt and not enough practical, hands-on training. This leads to underemployment and career dissatisfaction. Employers today need people who can comfortably use and create technology, and students need more than a degree. Young people today need real world skills to get a job, and GA provides those skills so they can land the great jobs that everyone wants.
GA’s physical footprint provides more in-depth training
Unlike many new education companies, GA operates in physical locations in key cities around the world because an in-person, immersive experience remains the best way to bring impactful learning to students. There is no shortage of online resources available for people who are interested in scratching the surface of technology or starting to dabble in coding. In fact, GA offers several fantastic online learning tools and encourages people to use them. Yet by providing both online and offline learning options, GA delivers fundamentally better training that is personalized, impactful and highly scalable. The results speak for themselves, more than 95% of GA graduates find a job after they have completed their training with GA.
Continuing education is an enormous worldwide market
Since the desire to learn and advance your career is so prevalent today, GA is addressing a huge, growing market. According to the Kauffman Foundation, professional skills training is a $9 billion market while technical schools represent another $16 billion in the US alone. The worldwide opportunity to train students in technology, design and business is immense, but GA won’t stop there. With the help of IVP and the rest of their investors, GA will expand into more cities and more educational verticals empowering millions of people around the world.
GA is scaling rapidly in tech centers around the world
GA started in New York, but with its growing popularity it has rapidly expanded to eight cities (Boston, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Washington DC) on four continents. In each of the cities in which they operate, GA has a special affiliation with the tech community and the venture community. Whenever GA hosts events focused on innovation and thought leadership, people find themselves in the company of smart, progressive people who want to make the world a better place and have fun while they are doing it. They also find themselves in a supportive community of tech entrepreneurs who are creating the jobs of the future in tech centers all over the world.
GA is filling the technology skills gap
It’s interesting that while unemployment plagues the global economy, there is still such an acute shortage of qualified people who have the skills needed for key jobs in the 21st century. Whenever we speak with the CEOs of our portfolio companies, we hear a familiar refrain: “Help me find great people.” The battle for talent is one of the toughest challenges facing tech companies today. In fact, 69% of hiring executives in technology believe their growth is limited by their inability to find competent, hard working people that have the skills needed to compete in the rapidly evolving, technology driven marketplace. As new areas of technology come into vogue, GA quickly adapts their course offerings to keep their students on the cutting edge. GA is training the next generation of developers, designers, product managers, data scientists and marketers at a time when their skills are seeing unparalleled demand. In the years ahead, we hope that GA can help to close this massive skills gap and help put people back to work all over the world.
Todd Chaffee is a General Partner at IVP. He led the firm’s investment in many high profile companies such ArcSight, Comscore, HomeAway, Kayak, Netflix, Omniture and Twitter. James Newell is a Vice President at IVP who recently rejoined IVP after graduating with an MBA from the Wharton Business School last year.