RIP Sweet Code School – Info News
The inevitable fate of most digital products
Not long ago, I had a dream job of leading product at a little company called Code School. They were a smart bunch I hardly had the right to hang with, constantly impressing me with both talent and wit. By the time I started, the company had already been acquired by Pluralsight, a leading on-demand professional skills trainer. While on-boarding, I was told to “Be careful about joining companies after they’ve been acquired” by the CEO himself, Gregg Pollack, in his Founder’s Talk . “Sometimes there are layoffs, sometimes they make people move, sometimes the thought leadership leaves the company…” Gregg sites these as gotchas that may, and in the end, actually did happen to us. But at the time, I found this tip to be playfully ironic. In retrospect, however, it feels more fitting and foreshadow-y of futures told.
Foreboding aside, I was too thrilled at my new digs to be swayed. Not to mention, I knew full well that that’s what happens with most digital products. So long as there’s bigger fish that benefit from consuming smaller fish and no laws preventing the feeding frenzy, there will always be acquisitions. As for Gregg’s warning, I just knew to look out for those as symptoms of the merge that I presumed was already happening. Sure, we were all promised at Code School that a complete overtake was not the plan, but I assumed, at some higher pay grade than the worker bees, those conversations had to have at least been started. Mind you, this has nothing to do with Code Schools failure to exist as a small company or Pluralsight’s evil tyranny to dominate the 6 other start-ups they also acquired. It’s more systemic, coming from the bigger technology ecosystem and the laws that don’t exist to control them. It’s so common most start-ups aren’t even funded without a proper “exit strategy”. Plus, once you’ve gone full IPO, your stockholders aren’t looking for stability as much as they want growth. In other words, if your digital product has already hit it’s stride, can’t grow anymore or fast enough (AKA not line your investor’s pockets), the only thing left to do is to absorb your digestible competition.
Article Prepared by Ollala Corp