A few weeks back, Ryan Bubinski, who co-founded Codecademy with Zach Sims, said to me that he thought learning how to code should be a fundamental skill on par with learning how to read or write or do arithmetic. And, that the Internet was the ideal platform to create the largest community learning to program. So it’s no surprise that Ryan and Zach built a service explicitly designed to be “the easiest way to learn how to code.” Indeed, a few days after I had this conversation with Ryan, I watched my 12 year old daughter complete, in real time and in small bites, 3 lessons on Codecademy (Getting to Know You, Confirm or Deny and Variables). More than 500,000 other people have also taken millions of mini-lessons since the service was launched in August.

Union Square Ventures is excited to make an investment in Codecademy as part of the company’s Series A financing and support Zach and Ryan’s vision of creating a platform where learning how to code is simple and can be shared.

Over the past few years, we’ve watched the Internet become a richer platform to learn and collaborate in new and different ways from new and different sources. Free and inexpensive content increases the variety of sources from which people can learn online. At the same time, as technology becomes the driving force in our economy, the ability to program and understand programming is becoming more important. Codecademy is at the heart of a new and emerging programming information “stack,” which includes networks such as Stack Overflow (part of the Stack Exchange network) – “Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers” – and Github – a platform for the collaborative development of software.

The collaborative nature of the internet has transformed other industries, yet we’ve only begun to see its impact on learning. Codecademy currently taps into its community by offering users the ability to “help create new lessons” on the service. Albert Wenger created a course – Functions in Javascript. Ryan and Zach understand the importance of developing and listening to the communities that emerge around great web services.

It’s no surprise then that writer Douglas Rushkoff’s latest book is titled Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age. In it he writes:

When human beings acquired language, we learned not just how to listen but how to speak. When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. And as we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them. In the emerging, highly programmed landscape ahead, you will either create the software or you will be the software. It’s really that simple: Program, or be programmed.

We are thrilled to support Zach and Ryan’s goal of “teaching the world to code.”

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