Coding boot camp General Assembly explores potential sale: CEO

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Coding boot camp General Assembly, a privately held New York-based company, is exploring strategic options, including a potential sale, Chief Executive Jake Schwartz told Reuters.

The news comes as closures and acquisitions pick up in a market that has become crowded with programs that promise to teach students the skills necessary to attain jobs as web developers over a matter of a few weeks. General Assembly rivals Dev Bootcamp and Iron Yard closed last year while Flatiron School was acquired by WeWork.

“As has been true throughout the growth of GA, we are fortunate to have many types of investment options, including venture capital, private equity, and/or potential M&A, with some of the world’s best investors,” Schwartz said in a statement on Wednesday.

Schwartz added in an interview that he was speaking to bankers about the company’s options.

The company is valued at $425 million, according to research firm CB Insights. It would aim for a higher valuation in a sale, separate sources familiar with the matter added.

Advance Publications, the owner of Conde Nast, led a $70-million funding round for General Assembly in 2015. The company has raised nearly $120 million total, which is more than any other company in the coding boot camp sector, according to Crunchbase. General Assembly generated more than $100 million in annual revenue last year, according to a source familiar with the matter who did want to be named because the matter is private.

General Assembly said it does not comment on revenue but that it did have a record number of students in 2017. It did not say what the number was.

General Assembly has 22 campuses across six countries and offers courses in web development, data science, digital marketing and other subjects. Over the past year, General Assembly has been shifting its focus toward providing training services for corporate clients.

“There’s a whole new trajectory of growth ahead of us,” Schwartz said.

General Assembly has a minor financial stake in Course Report, a privately held New York company that lets students post reviews of coding boot camps, Course Report co-founder Adam Lovallo confirmed to Reuters. The investment had not previously been disclosed.

Some industry executives, including Liliana Aide Monge, the CEO of Sabio, a coding academy, said having a boot camp invested in a reviews site could represent a conflict of interest.

Lovallo said General Assembly’s investment does not impact the way Course Report operates and said his company would “never edit or manipulate reviews in any way.”

Reporting by Salvador Rodriguez and Liana B. Baker; Editing by Frances Kerry