Codecademy's Zach Sims on how to build a thriving global community online

Zach Sims, CEO & Co-Founder of Codecademy, spoke to AppNexus CEO & Co-Founder Brian O’Kelley about the global Codecademy community and the importance of learning, teaching, and empowering those around us. This talk was part of the Leaders@AppNexus speaker series. For more information, full access to our video archive, and a calendar of upcoming events, visit

Brian O’Kelley: Talk for a moment about this community you’ve built across the 25 million people on the site. How do you connect those people back to Codecademy on a regular basis?

Zach Sims: We want to create a global community of people that have the right kind of ethos in how they think about using the skills they have accrued at the site. What that means is imbuing a vibe of community, of responsibility, of those skills really being transformative and then providing the setting that people need in order to apply them.

We have discussion forums where people can help each other and hundreds of open source projects that have been started by someone who has an idea, and a forum then says “we should work on this together” and people pile on and work on it together.

One of my favorite stories is a woman named Martha, who is eighteen, and learned how to program on Codecademy. She lives in Nairobi and got three of her friends, put them through Codecademy and they started the first developer school for girls in Nairobi called the Nairobi Dev School.

We have seen this happen again and again where someone will take the knowledge they’ve built, become obsessed with the same concept of teaching & learning that we try to imbue everything on Codecademy with and bring it to their own communities. They’ll start teaching, they’ll start TA’ing or helping their fellow students and really trying to empower the people around them. That’s when we feel successful: not only when we have an impact on the person who takes the course on Codecademy but also on the people that those people help.

To watch the full video and see photos from the event, visit our Razzle Dazzle website.  Go to to learn more about Codecademy.

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