Zach Sims

Co-founder and CEO of codecademy

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON January 08, 2016


Zachary Sims@zachsims
Hi, I'm Zach Sims, the cofounder and CEO of Codecademy. We teach more than 25 million people around the world the technology skills they need to find new jobs. I'm lucky enough to wake up every morning to thank you notes from our learners, each of whom is joining the digital economy we're all a part of. Looking forward to your questions!
William Ting@williamdjting · Student
Hey Zach, thanks for taking the time. When you first began coding did you find it to be a struggle to learn it yourself? What strategies did you use to persevere and how long would you say it took before you felt truly competent in your coding abilities.
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@williamdjting Hey William, thanks for asking a question! Codecademy actually was started in order to help me learn to program. My cofounder @ryanbubinski studied Computer Science (among other things) in college and had taught plenty of people to program while we were in college. I, meanwhile, had studied Political Science and was learning to code on the side. When we first started working on Codecademy, Ryan was helping me learn. That experience helped lead to the eventual product we created: something focused around bite-size learning that was interactive and provided you with immediate feedback. My experience with learning and Ryan's with teaching led us to make Codecademy the way it is today. Fortunately, I think I'm never done learning, so I use the product pretty often to keep getting better!
@zsims @williamdjting that is great to know
Alix@alix1800 · Graphic Designer, iOS Dev & Student
Hey Zach! From your point of view which are the most promising programming languages rising right now? On the contrary which are those bound to become obsolete?
Sina Pilehchiha@sinapilehchiha
@zsims Hey Zack, I'm the co-founder of a startup in Iran named codelearnr. me and my team are trying to promote the knowledge of programming and coding skills in Iran and in schools via teaching coding kills in n interactive way an in persian language. and we're also a nonprofit. we wanted to know do you guys @ codecademy support projects like this or would you accept our invitation to come to Iran and pay us and projects alike a visit or even give us the honour to collaborate?
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@sinapilehchiha Hey Sina! Awesome to see you promoting education in Iran. We absolutely support products around the world that help teach more people to program.
Sina Pilehchiha@sinapilehchiha
@zsims @sinapilehchiha Awesome! how can we contact you personally?! like CEO:CEO? for we tried to reach you on linkedIn and you didn't reply back to our messages.
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@sinapilehchiha shoot me an email!
Sina Pilehchiha@sinapilehchiha
@zsims @sinapilehchiha thank you so much dear Zack! absolutely! I guess it's; right? and also another question. we have developed a C++ course in our website and I wanted to know why you haven't published a course of a low-level language like C++ on codecademy? was it because of a particular reason or... maybe you're developing one right now? and again, i guess you're too busy to accept any invitation from us or startup accelerators in Iran for you paying a visit, right? or we can test our chances of you accepting our invitation via e-mail? thanks again! it meant a lot to me and my team receiving answers from you!
Jonny Cohen@jonnycohen616 · GreenShields
@zsims Yo Zach! Are you planning on offering any offline content? It seems like Codecademy could be very useful for NGO's distributing laptops with preloaded content.
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@jonnycohen616 Hey, Jonny! We'd love to offer offline content, but it's often challenging as the interactivity we pride ourselves on is dependent on running your code in the cloud. It's something we're working on, though, and we do work with nonprofits already!
jack rometty@rometty_ · student
Hey Zach! Codeacademy's python course was my first coding experience and it inspired me to study software engineering! you're an inspiration :) Coding education is available at every intensity imaginable ranging from serious bootcamps to youtube videos. What will the 'learn to code' landscape look like in 2020, and where will codeacademy fit?
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@rometty_ Hey Jack! This is awesome to hear. I'd love to get more of your story if you're up to email me us at
jshuadvd@jshuadvd · Designer / Developer
@zsims Do you guys plan to do a full computer science course?
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@jshuadvd We do! We're mostly focused on practical skills that can help you find a job. Computer Science theory is definitely one of those, but one that's harder to teach in a hands-on, applied manner. We're working on it.
Louis Svugr@louis_sugar · I make and market stuff.
Hi Zach, how and when did you start to learn to code?
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@louis_sugar Hi Louis! I had been trying to truly learn to program since I was in high school, but was frustrated by how hard it was to get started. I took an Intro to CS class while I was in college, but it wasn't until @ryanbubinski and I started the company that it became urgent for me to learn to actually create things (and I'm still learning!).
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@zsims thanks so much for joining us today Zach. Big fan of yours, my question is; what has been the single biggest determinant of CodeAcademy's success? Also what have been your biggest takeaways from the experience? P.S Would love to have you on @twentyminutevc and share your story!
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@harrystebbings It's hard to choose a single thing that's been helpful, other than never giving up. It's easy to make startup life seem glamorous, but the unfortunate truth is that it's a slog. It took Ryan and I 6+ months until we settled on the first iteration of Codecademy and decided to show it to the world. Nearly everyone we talked to thought it would never work, but we persevered and decided to find out for ourselves. Oftentimes the thing that separates successes and failures in the startup world is that the successes didn't give up and continued to press onwards.
Jeffery@_jawks · Student
@zsims Hi Zach just completed Javascript on Codecademy, I actually want to be a web developer, what do you suggest i do next??
@zsims ... Thanks for creating Codecademy ... I just started to learn programming (python) from scratch. As a beginner, what you will recommend me to proceed ? I would like to build apps for future .. which program you will recommend to learn for that ? Thanks !.
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@hrishi_mcmaster Hey Hrishi! Hope you're starting your journey with us. I'd recommend getting started with JavaScript, a language versatile enough to teach you basic concepts but also advanced enough to be used to create nearly anything you want on the web!
Hey @zsims My question is related to product development. How will you spend your time if you've got one hour to solve a user problem/need? Thanks!
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@juniusfree Hey, Junius! If I'm working on product development, it's important to understand user needs. Talking to users and matching anecdotes with data is critical to make sure you understand the need/problem before embarking on a solution!
Javier Torrez@jactorrez
What's the most difficult aspect of starting an education related startup?
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@jactorrez Teaching people is hard! Oftentimes we're not just designing course content, but we're designing motivational mechanisms as well. How do you get someone to stick to something that's good for them, but won't show its effects or usefulness for a few months?
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
Hey Zach! Thanks for doing the live chat. My question: What are the best things about building a business in NYC? What are the challenges?
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@davidspinks Hey, David! Good to see you here. We love the fact that New York brings us closer to our learners, everyday people who work in varied industries. It's hard to find the kind of diversity New York has anywhere else!
Bozinov Rickie@bozinov_rickie · Student
Hi Zach, I really need your help to tell me what is the easiest and the most effective way to learn new computer language?
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@bozinov_rickie Hey Bozinov! Welcome to the chat. I'm a little biased here, but I think the best way to get started learning a new language is on Codecademy!
Lesley Wu@deleted-407305
@bozinov_rickie just do it!
Andrea Hernández@think_andreah · Founder, Pretty Eats
@zsims @bozinov_rickiie Give it a try! I went from not knowing ANY programming to learning Ruby/ Javascript w/ Codeacademy!
John De Guzman@madfresco
Hey Zach, Codeacademy helped me code way better than my college courses did. It was awesome. Questions: a.) In terms of mobile: Any way to bring Swift in to codeacademy? Also, tutorials on how to use IDEs like Android Studio or Xcode? b.) What was your biggest challenge trying to take on a specific niche market? How hard was it to find people who "wants to code but find it too hard and quits"? c.) What was the first language your learned?
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@madfresco This is awesome! I'd love to hear more about what you've done with your skills -- a) We're working on all of these things. As you seemingly know, it's difficult to bring IDEs into a cloud programming environment like Codecademy's, so we're working on some crafty workarounds ;) b) Our thesis was always that tons of people were interested in learning to code but didn't have the resources to get started. I still think that's the case! We also don't think it's a niche - tens of millions of people have used Codecademy since inception and we think that number will only grow! c) I started with JavaScript!
Hello @zsims. I love what you are doing over at codecademy. I am currently a UX designer and with the help of codecademy, I am transitioning into front end development. My question to you is when you design your courses, how much time or hours in a day do you think is required for someone looking to become a programmer?
Zachary Sims@zachsims
@jasisincredible This is awesome to hear! Stories like yours are why we go to the office every day. I think it depends on the role you're interviewing for. We often see people spend less than 100 hours and learn something tangible enough to land them a new job (it might not be as a full time programmer!). There's a spectrum of skills and job opportunities that mean you can start getting paid for your skills early in your programming journey.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@zsims what have been some of the most challenging moments for setting up Codecademy and how did you overcome them?
AKASH PATHAK@akashpathak06
@zsims Hey Zach, thanks for your presence today. I really like CodeAcademy. Is it possible that we can see codeAcademy giving Face-2-Face Mentoring to its viewers in future & please let us know as a working professional Do I need to learn as many technologies from CodeAcademy or Strict to domain specific technology only.
Carlos Del Rio-Madero@rawknowledge · Waiter, Entrepreneur
@zsims hey Zach, I'm looking towards the future with a business idea, how big do you see virtual reality programming getting? What languages should one start learning if they are looking in that direction?
Samuel Polat@samuelpolat · Student Creator
Which programming languages do you now?
Carlos Del Rio-Madero@rawknowledge · Waiter, Entrepreneur
@samuelpolat html JavaScript, css I'm hearing C++, Java and VPL are must knows