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Lambda School Announces $14M Series A Led by GV (lambdaschool.com)
178 points by tosh 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 130 comments

Lambda School imho is one of the most interesting companies at the moment.

Many many have tried to tackle the challenges of education & its dynamics & how long-term all of it is and how short-term the typical strategic horizons and business models are.

Super excited about their journey ahead. This is one of these efforts that in this moment already have massive impact and down the road their impact can be difficult to even grasp and imagine when you think of it.

They teach html -> react in 1 month which is a bit doubtful in itself, but then they spend 1 month on C, OS's, and system calls!

Whatever knowledge, if any, people will acquire at the end is almost certainly going to be extremely shallow. Perhaps no better than reading intro sections of Wikipedia articles yourself over say 4 months instead of 1.

That’s actually not true. (Full curriculum is here for those that are interested: https://learn.lambdaschool.com/syllabus/cs-fsw).

Before joining Lambda School you are required to do our pre-course work, which includes the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. We then cover those topics again at a more advanced level once you begin the course, but a lot of time then is spent on making sure HTML is semantic, using preprocessors and mixins, responsive design, manipulating the DOM with vanilla JS, that kind of thing, so you understand what is happening under the hood. Then we dive into the “finer points” of JS for a while (ha), then React. So the front-end portion alone, including the precourse work, is longer than most code bootcamps. Then we get into backend in JS, then start writing “more advanced code” in Python.

By the time we’re writing C you’re already very comfortable with JS and pretty comfortable with Python, so we can ramp up the learning curve a bit. Bear in mind it’s all day every day with no context switching whatsoever; you’d be surprised what you can learn at that speed with people there on-demand to guide you and answer questions.

Hour for hour Lambda School’s full coursework is about 1500 hours; about 75% of the time you’d spend on the core track of a CS degree. Of course, our intentions are very different and much less theoretical/lower level. Our goal is for you to write great code at a great company, so we dive into theory where necessary and appropriate.

Of course, the most important part of Lambda School is that somewhere along the way you’ve learned how to learn. And when your new job says, “Alright our stack is Elixir and Phoenix” you don’t say “Um but I only know JS” you say, “Alright, link me to the docs.” There’s no way we could teach you everything you need to know and use, we really just give you the foundation that lets you continue to learn while being paid to do so.

I like to think of what you folks are doing as the evolution of universities which often lead to inverted outcomes (massive debt, no work).

How can I best get a friendly dev involved (he has shipped a c# VR game and worked a bunch of custom js scripts)?

Have him take our free intro to web development class and see if he likes it - https://lambdaschool.com

100% agree. In your view, what would you say are other interesting companies at the moment?

I'm biased, but I think Launch School is interesting :)

I'm kind of sad that they don't have the "pay when you get your salary" contract outside the US.

Working on it. That’s difficult mostly for income verification reasons, then regulatory.

We’re working on launching in the UK in 2019, and will begin expanding from there.

This part has always kind of worried me. It feels like indentured servitude a bit. People will end up paying too much or be on the hook for more than they can afford because they are desperate now

It aligns their incentives with yours. You know they really do want you to find a high paying job. Thats not something that can be said of most educational programs.

It’s capped at a maximum of $30k.

Hey guys, awesome to see all the attention Lambda is getting. I'm a junior in college who decided to drop out and do Lambda's iOS Program, happy to answer any questions! For those who are on the fence like I was I can talk about my experience.

I was always a self learned programmer who made projects in python for fun so I was really excited when I first got to college thinking that I'd be able to make the projects at scale that I wanted to.

But as freshman year ended I realized the department at my school for the most part was stagnant and focused excessively on the theoretical side of CS. Forget learning new frameworks we were still talking about Java at the end of the second year. This was really frustrating as I felt I had lost lot of my creative energy and started to hate coding itself. Thanks to the strength of my prior work and some connections I managed to get interviews for dev internships at some really good startups. I completely crashed and burned. I was not prepared to code under pressure or walk through my solutions with someone watching. I was really disheartened from the experience and contemplated switching majors and giving up on tech as a whole.

7 weeks into Lambda now I can create a pretty sophisticated iOS app, use custom APIs and manage sync with a database backend. I've managed to learn Swift and become decent at reading ObjC which I'm sure I can get better at with time. Most importantly though I feel like I can learn anything or at least logically approach any technical problem and I'm so ready to hit up the interviewers whom I feel I disappointed for a second chance.

Doing this program is no joke, and definitely not for everyone. I find myself coding, reading docs, watching videos for 10 hours everyday and at least 4-5 hours on weekends. From the get go I realized what you put in is what you get out. However the instructors do such a good job of keeping the feedback loop small for what you learn in class to the projects you build that it keeps you motivated to implement the next feature and keeps you hungry to learn more.

> Forget learning new frameworks we were still talking about Java at the end of the second year.

Personally I don't think people should be learning frameworks in school except for elective classes. CS is so vast that there is more than enough foundational knowledge to learn without going into specific tooling.

Learning Java in your second year seems like a problem though unless you mean the class used Java but was focused on teaching other topics like data structures/algorithms/garbage collection.

I agree, I think people now go to universities to find a job, but I don't think that is what universities are meant for. They are created to be a place for higher learning and intellectual pursuits, which is what most CS courses at universities provide (building a network layer, operating systems, etc).

Agreed. On the first day of class at my university the professor repeated over and over that computer science was the design and implementation of algorithms. They would not teach us programming. There was an optional 3 hour weekly lab for 0 credit that the TA's would be doing to help with homework and teach C. The homework was required to be submitted in C. Every computer on campus ran Slackware with Afterstep desktop. They taught everyone to use Emacs during the optional labs also. It was sublime.

I'm a recent CS grad in a programming job now, and to be quite honest - I'm just pretty jealous of all of these schools / bootcamps that are on the up and up. On one hand, there's a part of me that wishes I did something like lambda, and on the other hand I'm just mad that all the work I put into my degree feels worthless. I struggled to understand CS, but I worked hard to get my degree. It's kind of a gut punch when I see people graduating from lambda and getting jobs that pay a $100K plus since they have all the skills needed.

As others have pointed out below, programming is becoming more of a blue-collar field - so maybe lambda is headed in the right direction. That being said, I really liked the academic side of CS! I feel like nobody ever wants to talk about CS theory, ever. Even teachyourselfcs[1], with it's focus on teaching computer science, has no recommendations for a theory book at all. I loved reading Sisper, Automata Theory was my favorite course in college.

I also feel like having a CS education is valuable because you get a chance to learn about low level things that you'll probably never touch in your career, but it's useful to know. I liked learning about logic gates, how a computer is built, how a compiler / interpreter works, the theory behind a computer, etc. I feel like once you know the low-level side of things, you can move past blue-collar type of coding and really create interesting projects. It just sucks that no employer really cares if you know about that stuff. They only really care about projects you've made yourself outside of class (preferably using a framework). None of my classes taught me to do that, and it's hard to do a side project when you're focusing on doing homework.

I apologize for the rant. I'm really happy for you fspacef. I thought about quitting my degree several times. I never got CS on the first try, it took me until 2nd semester of my sophomore year to really "get" programming. I barley passed calculus and I had to retake my algorithms class. I'm happy that you were able to find another solution when college didn't work out. I guess... I'm just jealous - haha.

[1]: https://teachyourselfcs.com/

I know exactly how you feel, I should have made it more clear I have no hate for CS theory. It's how I got into HN in the first place. I also spent the summer of 2017 at Stanford just studying High Performance Computing because I thought it would be fun (it wasn't).

I've always had ideas for projects or softwares I'd like to build but I'd always hit a roadblock that I couldn't learn my way around on my own. This felt frustrating time and again as I felt like I had bits and pieces of the stack but no way to put them together.

I should also add that half of the time in Lambda's curriculum does go to learning CS theory. Lambda has given me a structure and syllabus that has accelerated what I would have probably learnt through college just at a slower rate. The idea that it takes 4 years to learn this stuff seems so arbitrary in hindsight. I do also believe college has it's value and now if I go back I would go deeper into other passions such as Economics or Political Science.

Also I don't think you should be regretful, if you have the time there are part time courses that you could do in another (related) fields example UI/UX or maybe learn another type of programming (mobile vs web, android vs iOS). Good luck!

> Even teachyourselfcs[1], with it's focus on teaching computer science, has no recommendations for a theory book at all.

I am interested in knowing more about this. Could you expand on why you don’t think any of those books are theory? If it isn’t too much to ask can you mention why each one of the books recommended for the different areas aren’t “theory”?

I THINK the commenter was referring to the Computational Theory or Complexity Theory of which they do indeed have no recommendation (Sipser is the common one).

@galeaspablo, sorry I should have been more clear. What I meant is basically the comment above. I highly recommend "Introduction to the Theory of Computation" by Sipser.

As I mentioned in my original comment, I barley passed Calculus. CS Theory is still math, but just... without numbers. The class felt more like solving puzzles, if anything. Writing proofs and doing homework was fun. I regret renting the book, I'm thinking of buying it just to work on the exercises within.

Thanks for the clarification. I think teachyourselfcs is a great resource, and having gone through some of the books and seen their rigor (references everywhere, theory that has taken millions of hours in dissertations/papers/patents/peer review), I would have taken issue with not labelling the resources as part of the theory in the field. After all I am sure CS coursework generally cares about algorithms, data structures, relational databases, operating systems, discrete mathematics, networking, distributed systems, etc.

Will be adding Sipser to my reading list.

I'm curious what long-term revenue story Lambda School would have convinced investors to shell out $14Mn. Perhaps, dominating a world where universities are irrelevant?

I do wonder though that with MOOCs becoming cheap, and that motivated students are able to get a lot of value from them, would Lambda School slowly transform into another credentialing/ signaling system for hiring? If that happens, I guess we will come around to a full circle of disruption in education.

The long-term revenue story is easy.

How much you make per student * how many students = revenue.

How much you make per student is a factor of how much they’re getting paid.

If we help a student get hired for $90k they’ll pay us back $30k. So if we place 3,333 students/yr at that price point over the long run we’ll do $100m/yr in revenue. Of course, that’s a lot of students, but that’s also a lot of revenue, yet a tiny fraction of the total market of up-and-coming software engineers.

Cost of capital is very real, and it’s one thing to say that and another thing to do it, but we don’t have to replace the university wholesale for that to work, we just have to be the best trade school there is.

MOOCs are great, but are hardly the be-all-end-all of education. Content is everywhere, ability to actually learn from it is more difficult, and expert help, structured end-to-end curriculum, a community of learners on the same pace, etc. just make for a better learning experience. Sometimes it feels like if I made a nickel for every time I heard, “I learned more in 3 weeks of Lambda School than a year of self study” I could fund the whole company.

The education model (immersive, time-intensive, mastery learning) Lambda School has in place seems like a very sweet spot between bootcamps and traditional university CS programs.

But some of that success has to be attributed to riding a boom wave of demand for software engineers. I'm a mid-career software engineer and have seen at least two "bust" cycles where experienced, well-credentialed, and just smart engineers went 12+ months between jobs. The effects of that have been reflected in undergraduate CS enrollments - we see big dips in the mid 90s and prior to 2006 (where a huge push up in enrollments begins again - https://cra.org/data/generation-cs/phenomenal-growth-cs-majo...). How well positioned the Lambda School revenue model to handle a 50% drop in demand and significant drop in starting salaries?

I am a big believer in the trade school process for software engineers, but I also think that the long term view for programmer careers is one that includes greatly reduced salaries in the average case and one reason I feel that way is that a learner can be productive in the workforce with a shorter-term and less specialized educational background.

Of course we started in a market where we got that sweet spot, but I think it’s there for most industries. The only reason every single bachelor’s degree is four years is because that’s what accrediting bodies require if you want to pull down federal student loan dollars; not because that amount of time makes the most sense.

From a selfish perspective, I would love for a recession to happen today. When recessions happen money is tight and people go back to school who otherwise would have been employed.

Of course, we are exposed to risk at the market level; if we stop hiring software engineers as a society Lambda School is in trouble, so we’re betting on that not happening.

That said, the purpose of Lambda School is to take people to the highest point of economic potential as quickly as is possible, not just to be a tech trade school. It’s crazy that there’s no institution in the US that’s great at optimizing human capital other than four years of school and hundreds of thousands of dollars at a university. So soon we’ll be training for other verticals as well that aren’t just tech.

I have hired several coding school grads - not Lambda but very similar. I’ve seen these employees plateau and have recommended they consider going back to a traditional degree program to power the next phase of their career.

I agree the current university system is not effective for everyone, but economic potential flattens out quickly for tradespeople, which fits the “coders” job description. Most rock star coders I know in SV who have remained coders are making roughly the same now as they were in 2001, adjusted for inflation. Which means their purchasing power has dropped significantly. Meanwhile those I know who have a liberal arts degree + an MBA or JD have steadily increased their purchasing power. They made much less initially, but steadily and reliably accumulated experience that is highly valued in the market as a function of time. Will the best React or Angular coder grad today command 10x their salary in 10 years?

Also SF Bay Area is notoriously age biased against older “doers”. Good luck finding a coder job in a GV startup if you are over 35 at a salary commensurate with your experience.

I agree a 4 year degree is insufficient, but I would argue it is a necessary foundation on which to layer on even more education. A career is a marathon, not a sprint. And it should be about more than how fast one can achieve high score.

Overall though, I agree there is a niche for this. This has been done for other verticals, particularly in nursing. So it should work great for a very specific population and a very specific market need.

But I don’t see it as being a fix to “optimizing human capital” over a lifetime. (I’m not sure education should be about optimizing anything.) I see it as a short term win-win until companies do in fact automate away 99% of coding, and for the under 30 student in an economy that is overheated, in a country that doesn’t provide a quality public education to alll its kids.

I’ll be a buyer until the market cools and more candidates flood in, but I’ll continue to recommend they enter a degree program.

I agree with your points on code bootcamps; I think you should check out Lambda School’s curriculum and see how vastly different it is from code bootcamps, which are essentially 8 weeks of “learn how to build your first app”, 4 weeks of “now build your first app” then “now go get a job!” (Curriculum is here: https://learn.lambdaschool.com/syllabus/cs-fsw)

Hour for hour Lambda School is about 75% the length of the core track of a CS degree + homework (we’re now almost 8 months, not including required precourse work: ~1500 hours). We also teach what we consider the requisite CS fundamentals (for example architecture, operating systems, system calls/processes). Students write a lot of C, etc.

We started Lambda School specifically because we didn’t feel right sending folks to code bootcamps where tbey’ll plateau because they lack fundamentals.

Try interviewing a student or two: we’ve had employers come to us saying, “Well we need Java engineers with a CS degree” that have now come back with requests to hire 50 students. Email hiringpartners@lambdaschool.com and I’ll happily set it up (goes for all of HN).

If you're graduating hundreds of students per month, you can't be very selective on the entrance criteria, right? I'm skeptical that there's a curriculum out there that's so good it can turn thousands of "whoever happened to apply" students into $90k starting-salary junior devs, year in and year out. That's way over the average in most markets.

We accept <5% of applicants, but our admissions process isn't what you'd think. It's mostly based on grit and determination, we don't care about your resume.

In order to maintain that 5% grit & determination bar while realizing your goal of 3k annual graduates, you will need to attract more applicants than Harvard does.

I am sure you've thought of this, but what about referral fees for employers? Seems like you are building a great pipeline of talent.

Their debt mechanism is a lower risk model for investors -- After you sign on, before you finish the program, you sign future income away. And investors are buying into that pool of future revenue.

There are arguments for and against this mechanism. I'm against it, clearly they are for it -- everyone should make up their own mind. Wikipedia has a high-level write up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_Share_Agreement

If you're against Lambda School model then what are you for?

The only viable alternative is to take a loan and go to college.

The average us student debt is ~$40k (https://studentloanhero.com/student-loan-debt-statistics/).

So what model do you think is better?

a) College "give us $40k now, good luck with your job search"

b) Lambda School "we'll teach you for free; we'll help you find a job; if, and only if, you get a high-paying job, you'll re-pay us $30k for the education that we already gave you"

Option 3: Find a different bootcamp with a flat fee (usually 10-15k)

Option 4: Self teach using one of many of the free curriculums online

(Not arguing for or against any of these, just pointing out that there are additional options)

Lambda School has a flat fee as well ($20k for 7.5 months of FT training)

I love what Lambda School is doing. I was part of the first cohort of the first ever coding bootcamp. It felt so scary to move to Chicago to participate, but it seemed so promising. It has worked out so well for myself and my family, but I recognize that there are so many people out there who financially could not do what I did at the time (I took out a loan to go and my wife and three kids moved in with my in-laws).

This school is solving a very real problem and giving hope to so many people who feel trapped in their current situation. I am really excited they are getting this funding and looking forward to see what the school, and its graduates, accomplish.

Great work team!

I have been following Lambda School and I am really happy to see them succeeding in this space.

I've a question: how is Lambda School different from the other many other coding bootcamp programs (apart from the unique model of paying the fee only upon finding a job with adequate salary)?

That "except" part isn't trivial. The chief problem of education (not just programming boot camps) is that incentives of institutes are more aligned with increasing their prestige than the practical value of what they teach. Lambda school is a fascinating "experiment" into what happens when incentives are clearly aligned with the students' future.

Isn't the incentive here to choose the most buzzwordy and low-barrier-to-entry technologies, and spend just enough time/effort to get the students through an interview so the bootcamp can get paid?

Incentives are hard in this space. Not sure how for-profit companies who get paid by students can ever be exactly incentivized to focus on honest evaluation and strong fundamentals.

Maybe the FAANG companies should start/fund a bootcamp, but then you'd have to be selective, and you'd end up with something totally different... :/

The long-term incentives are to create a brand of students that are so good people come to us and say, “We love Lambda School grads; I want to hire 50 Lambda School grads next year.”

As much as I've been very skeptical of Lambda School in the past, it's worth noting that their incentive structure seems aligned well. 17% of your first 2 years salary is a huge number, but it depends on you getting a good job and keeping it for 2 years. Otherwise they have to invest more time into you.

*17% for two years, capped at $30k total.

But yes you’re correct.

> Isn't the incentive here to choose the most buzzwordy and low-barrier-to-entry technologies, and spend just enough time/effort to get the students through an interview so the bootcamp can get paid?

This reminds me of some recent comments about the iPhone XS performance for the Speedometer 2.0 JavaScript benchmark [1]. The comment was something like "Apple just optimized their processor to beat benchmarks." In reality, the benchmark uses the TodoMVC project to run through dozens of real-world JavaScript frameworks. So even if Apple was just optimizing for some benchmarks, they've also improved the performance of real-world applications that use React and Ember.js.

Lambda School might be teaching some "buzzwordy" programming languages and frameworks, and the students might learn just enough to pass technical coding interviews and get a job, and they might have just enough experience to start contributing code and working on features that bring in more paying customers (or raise more VC funding), and they can ramp up quickly enough to not get fired. And those customers/VCs give money to the company, so the company can pay the employee, who gives some of the money to Lambda. This seems like a good "benchmark" to optimize for.

[1] https://twitter.com/dhh/status/1043277162676072449?lang=en

True, and good points!

Lambda itself may be fine, I can't judge it specifically (and appreciate Austen engaging :)).

That said, I agree that if they come in with "enough experience to start contributing code [etc]", that's a good benchmark!

But for the school to be successful, they don't really _need_ to go that far, which is my point about incentives: They just need them to look good enough on paper to get in the door, and know just enough that someone will take a chance on some percent of them, and rely on the fact that firing is hard -- in this model, their 'incentive' is to just churn out as many grads as possible, with the nicest resumes possible.

After writing that, though, I think I'm being more cynical than needed, prob based on some sub-par bootcamp grad interview experiences. I hope Lambda is really committed to good education, and I wish them the best, it's a worthy ambition and a hard problem.

> They just need them to look good enough on paper to get in the door, and know just enough that someone will take a chance on some percent of them, and rely on the fact that firing is hard

It seems that would be a very bad idea long-term.

That in of itself is a huge differentiatior. It’s really an entirely different business because they have to focus on learning that converts to jobs.

Bootcams can focus on what’s “hot” right now without regard to job placement though the good ones do.

Great question.

The reality is the alignment of incentives causes everything else to be different. There are a few concrete examples, but it really flows through everything we do.

1. Length: your average code school needs to pump you in and out of the same physical location and still have margins on what they charge upfront, so the standard is 12 weeks. That’s generally 8 weeks of “instruction” time and 4 weeks of “project” time. The fact that they can get anyone at all to semi-employable with 8 weeks of instruction is a miracle, but most employers agree it’s not enough, and frankly most bootcamp grads look pretty weak. Lambda School is 30 weeks full-time plus 4 weeks of required precourse work, so our instruction time is at least 3x that of most code schools. That, of course, lets us cheat relative to most other schools.

2, Curriculum. What you’ll usually hear separates us are that we teach CS fundamentals, write code in Python and C not just JS, and that kind of thing. But what is harder to explain is how much time and effort we put into instructional design. We’re entirely online and free upfront, so if we suck you close your laptop in week 3 and walk away, and we’re required by contract to forgive the entire income share agreement. We have some of the best instructional designers in the world on staff, and if an instructor isn’t performing they’re sadly let go. It’s that simple.

3. Mastery-based progression, and Bloom’s 2 sigma problem (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_2_sigma_problem). Perhaps the most remarkable study in the history of pedagogy was Bloom’s 2 Sigma Problem. I’m not the instructional designer so I’ll let you read about it yourselves, but basically we practice small group and one-on-one instruction with a mastery component. Specifically, every student is placed in a group of 8 students with one PM (what we call our TAs), and at the end of every week we have what we call a “sprint challenge.” That tests all of the cumulative knowledge you should have gained that week, and you must pass all of them to move on to the next level and graduate. So what if you don’t? You simply repeat the week in a new group until you’ve mastered the concept. Now every educator on planet earth knows that’s a superior way to learn, but it’s very expensive manage. We spend the money because we need to be able to confidently say, “Every Lambda grad can do all of these things” to every employer if we’re going to win long-term.

4. Very robust career services. Lambda School doesn’t stop once you graduate; in fact that’s probably the most important part to a student’s success. We have a program called “Lambda Next” that is still structured and rigorous, but helps you in writing code that signals what you now know, sourcing and applying for jobs, interviewing, and negotiating a salary/benefits package. We’ve had a remarkable number of students earn back the entire price they’ll pay Lambda in negotiation alone.

So these are just a few examples, but really it comes down to the fact that our DNA is structured differently than most code bootcamps as a result of our business model.

The change of business model drives the differences between coding boot camps. Because now the incentives with the students are aligned. Only if the students get a good job will Lambda school be paid.

I'm a Lambda school student. AMA

I'm in the FSW program but we're past that now. I've watched how people move in and out of the cohort I'm in.

I went in knowing how to make a basic website, a bit of sqlm and a bit of a few other of the topics covered. This put me ahead of about 60-70% of the cohort.

I have noticed students getting very hung up on the particular stack. It does seem that a few are just copying and pasting code to get it to work.

This was also the case when I went to college though.

What I don't see people mentioning is the effort their putting into improving the curriculum. It's a living thing unlike most college classes I've been in. They no longer teach Bootstrap for example (which was probably causing most students more trouble than it was worth).

I'm on average doing something coding related 8-10 hours a day now. Occasionally I take days off and go play Minecraft or something. I make about one extra project every two weeks the latest being ( https://whatisthecolorofthesky.netlify.com/ )

The people I see being the most successful are the ones who probably could have succeeded without Lambda. However I think a sense of direction, a constant source of help, and a sense of community accelerates the pace.

I don't know if I'm going to regret spending 7 months (plus whatever the job search takes) of my life doing this but hey it beats what I was doing before.

If you're curious what the class content looks like it's in my Github which is linked in my profile.

I'd love to pursue this as the evening hours work great for a single mom, but the Saturday requirement for the PT program makes it not possible for me. :(

Nice to see this getting major traction. Congrats to Austen - one of the true grinders in the startup game. Something sadly lacking on HN these days!

Lambda School and the team behind it are awesome.

I've thought about applying quite a few times (I'm technical but self taught, so I've always felt like I'd benefit from a quick bootcamp to soften my jagged edges).

If the schedule were more friendly to European timezones I'd have signed up already. Hopefully that's coming soon?

Genuinely curious why you'd look at Lambda School instead of a local university which if you're in Switzerland (going by your user name) would cost you almost nothing. I always saw Lambda School and equivalents as a necessary alternative to the broken US university system, not as something that was needed in Europe.

Switzerland has some of the world's best universities, sure.

But I don't want to do another degree (the only comparable option would be a 3 year, full time BSc in Computer Science).

Sure, the tuition costs would be lower, but the opportunity costs (plus 3 years of not really working while I study) are easily 10x higher than doing Lambda School.

Plus, a local university won't teach me the skills I need to become a better 'practical' web/mobile developer. It's a lot of (admittedly very interesting) theory, not the kind of vocational training I need.

With Lambda School I could strengthen my weak areas in 3-6months and don't need to travel to do so. A bargain for the price!

We’re launching in the UK in 2019, so I believe that will resolve the time zone issue.

That's great news!

I don't know about Switzerland (nor that much about Lambda School), but even the most flexible schools in Europe tends to be quite rigid. Apply months in advance, study for years, deal with grades, admissions and administration etc. What most people need isn't "academia" but "training". That said I think most MOOCs are doing it wrong as well.

In the UK quite a lot of Universities offer MSc "conversion courses" which are basically 1 year training as a programmer. Cost is usually reasonable. I know people who've done this and gone on to successful careers, including research. Here's an example: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/taught/com...

Not that I think conversion courses are without issues, but the selling point of Lambda School seems fairly weak to me in the light of these.

You should see our waiting list of folks waiting to attend in the UK. I can’t speak to what their decision making process is, but the demand is clear.

I don't doubt demand exists. I'm just curious as to why.

I’d guess they don’t believe a one-year conversion course from a university is a superior education to Lambda School (I don’t know about the quality of those in the UK other than that a few universities have already reached out asking us to replace theirs), with a hint of opportunity cost of the extra time. The fact that it can be done from home May also play a role, or maybe they don’t have a degree in the first place.

They’re expanding to the U.K. in 2019. I believe other countries as well. Would you not consider the GA Tech M.Sc. Computer Science if you already have extensive work experience?

https://www.omscs.gatech.edu/ https://www.reddit.com/r/OMSCS/comments/9ly1z2/thank_you_all...

It used to be ~$7K, not sure what it is now. Lambda school is $20K if you pay upfront, $30K if you do an income share where you only pay afterwards.

Thanks, I'll look into that. I'm looking for something highly vocational/practical which can be completed remotely and ideally in 3-6months.

GA Tech OMSCS is still about 6-7k. $1300/2 course semester is what I'm paying right now.

I am a self learned programmer looking to apply to Lambda school.

1.How are you different from General Assembly and Flat Iron School?

2.Both General Assembly and Flat Iron were acquired. How does Lambda expect to survive when their biggest competitors couldn't?

This concerns me since many of these bootcamps are going the route of itt technical institute.

1. We're 3.5x the length, teach computer science fundamentals, employ world-class instructors and pay them a lot of money, and don't get paid until you get a job.

2. By making enough money we can control our own destiny.

I’ve been following Lambda, Holberton and 42. All three seem to have similar models: no upfront tuition, pay later out of your salary. The quality of education seems much higher than the typical “bootcamps”. I really like this.

Has anyone compared those three schools?

I was a student of 42 for almost a year, before I switched to Holberton.

In my opinion 42 is a very good school for those who already have a lot of experience and want to learn a new skill set, without the need of any support. If you want to qualify for a free bed in their dorms, you have to complete very complicated projects in a very short amount of time, making it difficult for a beginner to succeed.

Holberton school does not only provide peer-to-peer learning, but also rely on the community local tech (and non-tech) community: mentors (SWE/SRE professionals), school alumni and students. Even though there are no teachers, there is a constant support from the staff and the larger community to help you understand the concepts, build your career, especially for those who came with zero experience and completely different backgrounds. As a student, you also have to work hard and have deadlines, but following any deadline, you get peer learning sessions and whiteboarding sessions to make sure everyone understands the concepts. We have to re-create the projects from scratch but on the whiteboard, explaining every single step and algorithms, asking and answering the questions of everyone. This way, they ensure that everyone can be successful.

School 42 is a great school, but was simply not the right choice for me and in my opinion, Holberton School is a much better choice. But as always, it depends on your background, challenge, context and motivation.

I never heard about Lambda, so I can’t comment. Seems like a great program too, but online.

I am a student at 42, and I have to correct you on one really important point : 42 does not have anything as "pay later out of salary". It is a tuition free school period. Also it is not remote, you need to go to the school everyday, and they provide free accommodation as long as you reach the targeted progress each month.

Ok, good to know, thanks. So how does 42 plan to make money? Are you happy with the program so far?

As far as we know there is no plan to make money. It has been founded and funded by a French billionaire who did not like the way traditional high education works.

I am personally really happy with the program, I started 3 years ago and there are so many different projects and different paths you can choose that I am planning on staying there for some time

Why is it called LambdaSchool when they teach "JavaScript, Python and C"?

Clicked hoping to see a functional programming oriented bootcamp. We need one of those.

Ha! Funnily enough we started out teaching Haskell.

Turns out the market for that is much smaller.

I'm really happy someone asked that question; we used to get it every day, but we don't get it anymore.

"pay a percentage of your final salary" is essentially what the student loans system in the UK boils down to. However I am expected to start paying back after earning over £21,000. Maybe a shift to a graduate tax on the higher end of earners would be a fairer way to structure it

Yes, the UK system is much closer to a good idea than that in the US (which is a complete train wreck). Australia’s model is relatively solid too.

There are, however, some major differences in how the UK structures student loans vs Lambda School:

1. If you attend Lambda School you don’t begin making payments until you’re making $50k+/yr in the field you study. In the UK it’s $24k (at current exchange rate) regardless of what you study.

At Lambda you pay a 17% of income for 2 yrs, capped at a maximum of $30k, so if you get a job for $50k you’ll only end up paying $17k. In the UK you pay a full tuition (generally around $50k + however much you borrow for living costs for four years).

In the UK you have a 3-7% interest rate, Lambda has no interest.

In the UK if you make payments for 30 years and still haven’t paid it off it’s forgiven. At Lambda that happens at year 5.

And perhaps this is the most important: In the UK if you default the University was paid a long time ago. The university gets paid day one and doesn’t have to care. At Lambda if you don’t get a job Lambda School never gets paid, so the incentives of the school are aligned with the incentives of the student, instead of the taxpayer writing a check to cover it.

Yeah but the U.K. student loans are written off when you retire if you haven’t paid them back already. Lambda writes it off after five years of you haven’t paid them their $30K.

Sat 9-12pm for PT makes it harder to sign up.Lots of kids related activities on Sat/Sun morning till late noon. Wondering if there is an option doing the Sat 9-12pm session over the weekend but at a different time slot?

Currently employed at a small company and I've been doing a mixture of side projects throughout the years as well. I don't picture myself leaving anytime soon but you never know what the future holds with startups.

I've considered doing something like this to fill in gaps of knowledge and really strengthen my programming ability in the event I need to shoot out some resumes but unsure how the tuition payback works if I finish the course but retain my current job?

It depends on what your current job is. We try to err on the side of caution when telling people they will or will not needn’t to pay if they stay in their current role.

Contractually the income share agreement says you’re required to pay if your job is in “software” or “data science.” Obviously it has to be broad, which could be problematic in edge cases, and I don’t want people to have to trust us.

That's fair. Might have to send you an email and provide more detail. Appreciate the responses!

Looking for it! austen@lambdaschool.com

Way to go, Austen and team! Still hoping I can find a way to help your mission one day.

How does Stripe do VC investments when they themselves are still taking investment funds?

What do you mean? Private companies can certainly make strategic investments in other private companies to commoditize complements, partner on technology, explore potential M&A and for other reasons too.

See: Coinbase Ventures, Slack's fund, etc.

I can understand a strategic acquisition, but this is just a long-term investment. I can see how the two companies relate (Stripe loves to be there at the inception of engineering ideas), but I just imagine investing in something that won't return your capital for years to come while you're still strapped for cash being a little... odd?

They just raised $250m to pursue long-term initiatives. I wouldn't be worried about them running out of money any time soon.

I agree that they don't seem like they're strapped for cash, but it's still a strange use of investors' capital. If Stripe's investors wanted to invest in Lambda School, why wouldn't they just do so directly? And since Stripe evidently didn't need the full $250M for its own operations and initiatives, why didn't it just raise less?

I think there are ways to spin Stripe's investment as a customer acquisition play. If they have more influence over Lambda School curriculum or partnerships by merit of being an investor, and Lambda School is churning out web developers whose first instinct is to turn to Stripe for all things billing, that seems like a pretty reasonable use of investor capital to me.

Someone made a similar comment about YC a few weeks ago – how if you were building dev tools, even though $150k for 7% results in a lower valuation than many founders could find elsewhere, you could consider the equity the price for access to the YC network and existing companies to use your product.

How is Stripe strapped for cash

On the surface this seems like a great thing. How hard is income verification?

There are forms you can fill out with the IRS to give access to your tax returns to other individuals.

Not sure how to measure how hard it is, but it's definitely solvable.

20k Upfront for international students. Another hint from the bubble inside the valley and the isolation from the real world that eventually will explode in some way.

We recognize that price point sucks internationally, but until we expand into each market with income verification and regulatory backing we can’t roll out our existing model. We’re working on the UK now, then will begin other countries. I’m really sorry it’s not an attractive offer outside the US yet; we’re only 18 months old and have relatively high costs because we pay expensive instructors a lot. We’ll get there.

Yeah, my partner recently had to turn down a place at lambda for this reason. Hopefully you can sort the UK soon!

Am open to other payment models internationally in the meantime, but frankly we can only handle a tiny fraction of student demand in the US right now. Sorry it didn’t work for them yet!

Can you expand ? How does one get tuition back if you just leave to xyz country ?

Lambda School is $0 upfront for US citizens, but we can’t yet support a $0 upfront model for folks outside the US yet.

It’s a play for federal student loan money pure and simple. Odd that anyone would think otherwise? Edit; non subsidized then?

We don’t get and won’t seek federal student loan money.

In response to the edit: No Lambda School student has, to my knowledge, ever paid for tuition with a loan of any kind, nor have we ever received any money from the government.

Doesn't need to be federal loans. The educational loan market is huge, and immune to bankruptcy.

I also have a small education related project I am working on (currently in stealth mode) that is more focused on the online/self-study type of learning. Even though there is a lot of headbutting in terms of "most effective" education pedagogy. I think the education space is ripe for disruption and companies like Lambda are definitely innovating in this space. I see the future of education mostly consisting of a hybrid of focused seminars/hands-on training like what Lambda is offering and the online self-study MOOCs/courses for more theoretical learning or life-long learning. The hands-on training will be very intense and focused with a price while the self-study MOOCs will be free or very low cost. They both will play an equally important role in the future of education.

Companies like Lambda clearly show that the education market is being disrupted and it is clear to see why. Our current university education system is completely dysfunctional and it is probably most dysfunctional for CS education. The pace of learning is too slow, the topics you learn are not relevant to the student and often the topics you learn are outdated. The universities don't innovate because they are completely disconnected with what students need to succeed. Half of the courses an undergrad takes are completely irrelevant topics which the "educational experts" call general education. When I was in college, I took courses like history of rock music, art history, greek mythology, and asian-american studies. I only took these courses because I was required to take them. In the grand scheme, they are completely pointless and are basically a waste of time...yet we have students taking half their course load in these types of courses. Why? The reason it is like this is because these so called education experts are trying to mold some sort of "model citizen" in their view point. For the student, it just wastes their time and money. If the student wants to learn these topics, they could do it on their own....but to require it as mandatory to get a CS degree or equivalent...is a shining example of how disconnected our university system is from reality of what students need to be successful in a career.

That's why schools like Lambda are brilliant in the grand scheme of disrupting education. They cut out all the crap and only focus on the core skills that employers want in their employees and students need to be successful in a career. Lambda isn't free but they certainly are doing a significant better job than some of these other schools I see like University of Phoenix, Devry and so on which appear to be complete scams. There was also that WozU school that was promoted on here...which also now appears to be a scam based on student reports of the program.

I think as a society, we need to encourage the creation of effective schools, even if they are private schools like Lambda. If that means diverting people away from government colleges/universities then so be it.

Also another topic that is often brought up is in regards to credentials. From what I see, the base for traditional university degrees is slowly being eroded away. Many people say to go to a traditional university because of networking and connections...which is true but only in the present day. For employers, they need to hire people who are effective at the position and provide maximum value. If the MIT CS degree potential employee doesn't know how to code effectively or only knows obsolete CS topics...how effective will this person be at the company? Not very much. The employer will want to hire the person who knows how to code and has relevant knowledge, even if that person doesn't have a degree from a traditional university. This concept is obvious in a fast growing market like CS. Employers will eventually gravitate towards candidates who have the skills to be successful and avoid hiring people just because they were able to network or get a connection to the company's hiring manager.

This trend of "Everyone can make a career in code" is getting out of control.

Becoming a software developer is an insanely difficult and ungrateful journey.

This type of "School" make me incredibly uncomfortable has they really promote an unrealistic image of the "Software Developer Career" where everything is super easy , and within 6 months ( seriously ? ) you'll be ready and making 120K$/Year.

Software is a very particular type of industry where turn over is insanely high and most of the stuff a developer has to do has often nothing to do with the technology he learnt at school but instead is about mixing all his CS knowledge ( Software/System Architecture , OSI Model , POSIX etc... ) to come up with the best possible solution to solve an issue.

Today it seems like Coding School are now becoming the norm , and "Software Developer" is now widely considered as just "Coding" or being a "Coder".

This is sad and frightening at the same time.

...but instead is about mixing all his CS knowledge ( Software/System Architecture , OSI Model , POSIX etc... ) to come up with the best possible solution to solve an issue.

The majority of software development is essentially blue collar work now. You don't need a CS degree to make a mobile app or a JS-driven web page. At least 50% of developers haven't used a POSIX library in their entire career. They probably don't know what POSIX is. Software development is mostly glueing together other people's code in ways that don't trip you up later. We'll always need some of the low-level clever coders to build the foundation libraries we use, but that doesn't mean every developer has to be one of those people, or even capable of being one of those people.

And the thing is ... I think this is great. Making software is fun, comfortable desk work that loads of people should have the opportunity to do. Given the demand for new applications we need to make the barriers to working as a developer as low as possible.

I've been saying the same thing about a lot of development being blue collar work for years now, and I have mixed feelings about it. I think it's great that there's at least another skilled labor job out there that's well paying (for now) and accessible to people, but the way it's manifesting itself is also reenforcing the same sort of gatekeeping, double standards, and shibboleths that have kept people from moving up the ladder for a long time.

In particular, for those of us who came up through development 10+ years ago but didn't get formal CS training, we're often being shuffled into these blue collar jobs even though we've put the time and effort into developing all of the CS skills that we'd need for the more sophisticated jobs. I went to a trade school for a non-CS degree, then spent over a decade writing everything from kernel code and device drivers to novel software exploits to designing and implementing video codecs, compiler toolchains, type systems, and large scale distributed systems. With the rising tide of bootcamps, all of that still matters, and there are still some good opportunities out there, but the pool of opportunities for interesting and fulfilling work is shrinking rapidly as the volume of jobs doing devops, mobile and web frontends, or menial node.js crud applications has been growing exponentially.

The majority of software development is essentially blue collar work now.

And like lots of blue-collar work companies are scrambling to offshore it to the cheapest locations and don’t care about quality because it’s all disposable.

I could not in good faith recommend this to anyone now, become a plumber or a nurse, that’s not going offshore anytime soon.

People have been saying that for 20 years, and yet most programmers I know (even outside of the Bay Area) are making well into the six figures.

So are plumbers in Kensington (an expensive Borough in London). Wealthy businesses and customers pay their staff a lot regardless of the job.

Lambda School is about 1500 hours long, not including our required pre-course work - about 75% of the length, hour for hour, of the core track of a CS degree + homework. It is absolutely possible to be able to learn to solve software problems well, understanding requisite computer science fundamentals, in that time frame. Are you building on the Linux kernel at that point? No. Are you using software to solve important problems that companies will pay good money to have solved? Absolutely.

It’s still very difficult, certainly. Almost every Lambda School student will tell you it’s the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. And they’re not done learning at that point, just able to contribute to the point that they can be paid to continue learning.

Do I believe the pool of people capable of doing that is bigger than and different than the pool of people currently graduating from universities with a four year degree? Absolutely.

> promote an unrealistic image of the "Software Developer Career" ... and within 6 months ( seriously ? ) you'll be ready and making 120K$/Year.

Huh? What's "unrealistic" about it? Lambda and App Academy regularly graduate students making that kind of money.

> most of the stuff a developer has to do has often nothing to do with the technology he learnt at school

Given you agree that much of what you learn during a CS degree gets supplanted by real-world knowledge once you get a job, I don't see what your problem is with bootcamps like this one.

(Makers Academy grad here; 4 years into tech and gainfully employed at http://pivotal.io thank you very much)

Software development is hard, but why does it have to be taught at a university, where you learn core concepts but are not learning skills and experiences that companies are looking for? I think to address your concerns, if Lambda can have continuing education where you can take more abstract and CS classes, students can converge to have the same knowledge as a CS student and be more skilled to integrate that knowledge.

I know plenty of people who've gone through bootcamps who are now productive engineers at top startups and big tech. Even though I have a degree in computer science, I'm not at all scared nor "frightened" by these schools popping up. They help those who are self-motivated anyway. Props to Lambda School!

you could've just quoted gran torino 'get off my lawn' instead of typing all that

Google Ventures invests in company that will churn out graduates that Google will never hire.

Makes sense.

First, GV and Google proper are completely separate entities, and neither seeks the other’s approval other than when Google writes a giant check to fund GV.

Second, I’ll bet you $100 that there’s a Lambda School grad working at Google this time next year ;)

At least one T3 (or higher!) Lamba School graduate working at Google by 10/9/19? I'll take that action!

(Email in profile, also on Twitter.)


I'll throw in a few buck to the winner just to hear about the result.

I'll take that bet with conditions:

- grad must have a rejection from an onsite interview at Google before lambda school

- position must be for a T3 swe II

That doesn't make any sense. Why would someone have interviewed at Google before doing a bootcamp like Lambda School, which is specifically meant to teach someone (with almost zero experience) programming? If you've made it to a Google onsite, you probably don't need to go to a bootcamp.

That is very specific. They have to have made it to an on-site and been rejected before Lambda? Well that eliminates 99% of our student body from contention.

How else can we isolate the effects of the program?

To be honest I subscribe to the idea that the FANG etc interviews are proxies for an IQ test. So it is entirely possible lambda school trains a high enough IQ individual and they pass a full loop. And by that I mean they pass based on their IQ AND the training they got in the program.

If you subscribe to the idea that FAANG interviews are IQ tests, then by definition you won’t be able to isolate the effects of the program. I don’t think we really move the needle on IQ.

Google Ventures invest in a company that will create future GCloud customers and advocate.

A simple search on linkedin shows that most of Google Employees comes from Berkeley, Stanford etc...

Not from bootcamps or "coding school".

This could change soon.

A substantial portion of Google engineers don’t have any degrees. Here’s one person who got a job offer from Google after doing App Academy and them being an instructor there. Lambda School is more than twice as long as App Academy so presumably they cover more.


> Despite having first learned how to code almost a year before, having a background as an English major and former professional poker player, I was able to land a total of 8 offers including Google, Uber, Yelp, and Airbnb (where I ultimately joined). In this three-part blog post I’m going to describe my advice to a job-seeker trying to break into the tech industry.

Being an instructor there already puts him two average deviations above the average graduate, I think. It's still a good signal, though.

To be fair, the average CS grad couldn’t walk into Google and get hired either, so it doesn’t bother me that on average Lambda School grads don’t go directly to Google.

42 student here. I feel it is important to share a few facts about 42 regarding this Lambda hype.

42 is a tuition-free school. It means you don't get to pay anything to the school EVER.

42 is not remote. You need to go to the school to do your projects. We believe it is important to be in contact with other students, exchange, learn from each other.

42 provides free accommodation as long as you show your commitment to learning and improving = if you stop coming to school you do not have access to accommodation anymore.

42 program is about 2 to 3 years long. Best students can graduate in a bit over a year when some others stay 4 or 5 years, it really depends on how dedicated you are, but everybody can have its own rhythm.

Check it out :) https://www.42.us.org/

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