We put together a list of the top YC companies by valuation as of October 2018. You can see that list at https://ycombinator.com/topcompanies.
Here’s a Q&A with Zach Sims, Founder of Codecademy, one of the companies featured on the list.
What does Codecademy make/do?
Codecademy teaches more than 45 million people around the world technology skills to help them upgrade their careers.
How many employees does Codecademy have?
How many founders?
What is your most impressive recent product milestone?
We’ve launched a whole bunch of Codecademy Pro Intensives, which help learners get access to new skills (most recently in Machine Learning) over an 8-12 week period with lots of other learners in their cohort and real projects.
What is the larger impact / societal impact of your product in the space you work within?
In a world that’s more and more influenced by technology, we help everyone keep up with the changes in the labor market and, hopefully, make more money over the course of their careers to live a better life.
What’s an interesting element of Codecademy’s company culture?
We have a real focus on learning internally (we’re an education company after all), so everything from our office (which looks quite a bit like a library) to the brown bags we do to share knowledge between all of our teams.
Looking back, what motivated you to start Codecademy?
We felt the need both personally and from a macro perspective. Personally, I was learning to program and found it super challenging, while my cofounder Ryan had started a club on campus at Columbia to teach people to program. We realized that tens of millions of people would need to learn to program like I was attempting to and that there wasn’t a good way for them to prepare for that future. So, we started Codecademy!
Is what you’re working on now the original idea or did you pivot?
We started off with an idea somewhat similar to what we’re doing now — focused on connecting students with jobs based on how they completed programming challenges. Eventually, we found that what they really needed was more to learn.
Were there moments where you thought the company might die? Describe one of those and anything you learned from it.
In 2015, we’d been a completely free product for a while and weren’t sure how we were going to generate revenue. Staring down our cash out date, we spent a lot of time talking to our learners to figure out what they wanted. We ended up building Codecademy Pro, a business that has led us to make eight figures in revenue every year.
What was a particularly important insight you had about your market that made your product work?
We were our first users, with Ryan as a teacher and me as a learner. That gave us really rich insight into what we needed to build for both of those user groups.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with a young founder?
Just do it! I talk to people all the time that might be interested in starting companies, but want to wait because “they need to learn something” or “they’re not ready.” It turns out people are rarely ready to start a company, so it makes sense to just get started.