Edtech’s search for the magic metric

Edtech’s search for the magic metric

Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh human-first take on this week’s startup news and trends. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.

If there’s one sector that is incessantly in pursuit of Magic Metrics, it’s edtech. For the past two years, I’ve spoken with every top investor and founder in the industry and each of them have made their own, independent arguments for what is considered an effective outcome in education.

Some argue that completion rates show necessary engagement, while others say that it’s less about how far you get into a course and more about if you show up and participate in the moments that count. Some believe that it’s time to reinvent grading systems, while others think that scores are a way to beat inequity in acceptance rates. The magic metric that does it all — encompasses outcomes, engagement and heck, even fun — has always had debate, and honestly, trust issues around it. Still, it’s rare for me to interview someone who will go on the record to say why there’s so much disagreement, or perhaps more interestingly, why they are right and the status quo is wrong.

And that’s why my conversation with Nucamp CEO Ludovic Fourrage stood out to me. Fourrage, who has spent years building up a coding bootcamp with accessible pricing, tells me that he’s no longer publishing job placement metrics in advertising materials. The move was made to rebuild student trust in the industry.

As I wrote in my story, the move is less about Nucamp declaring that it doesn’t market its placement rates, and more indicative of a broader issue: job placement is the most in-demand outcome, but also one of the hardest to deliver. Of course, the obfuscation of metrics can cast a questionable light on a startup. Nucamp doesn’t even share job placement metrics with learners once they join the platform. What it aims to gain in lack of deception, it could lose in lack of transparency. After all, if your job placement rates were so good, why wouldn’t you advertise them?

For my full take on this topic, check out my latest TechCrunch+ column: Should tech bootcamps keep using job placement metrics in their advertising?

In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll get into Mos’ evolution from an edtech into a fintech, and if your head of product needs a career agent. As always, you can support me by sharing this newsletter, following me on Twitter or subscribing to my personal blog.

Deal of the week

With $40 million more in funding, Mos is evolving. Amira Yahyaoui started the company in 2017 as an edtech business built to help students navigate their way through applying to and attending college. Now, she’s trying to build a “radical” fintech that can support the same user base through all of life’s similarly complicated demands.

When I spoke to Yahyaoui, she talked about how buzzy fintech has gotten — from NFTs to credit cards with fancy branding. She’s set on building for the masses, even if it doesn’t feel as exclusive and fancy.

“I wish I had to only convince 1,000 nerds,” Yahyaoui said. “But we need to convince 20 million students.”

Here’s why it’s important, per Lux Capital’s Deena Shakir: “Rather than being a player tangentially on the side of financial access and inclusion, they recognize that they have the unique opportunity to be the primary bank, credit card and home [for] their students,” she said. In other words, the TAM is increasing.

Honorable mentions:

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Could the Great Resignation force techies to get career agents?

My most read piece this week explored tech’s hot hiring market, and if it’s about time for top tech talent to start hiring career agents. I specifically looked into Free Agency, a startup that recently raised a $10 million Series A, and its marketplace that connects in-demand techies with experienced agents.

Free Agency helped a client secure a senior director of Product role worth more than $900,000 in total compensation, a 53% jump over the client’s previous pay package. In the process, the company arranged 21 interviews with companies like Snapchat, Coinbase and Lyft without requiring the client to send out a single application or email during his job search.

Here’s why it’s important: As I spoke about in the latest Equity podcast, we rarely see recruiting companies building for the employee instead of the employer. Free Agency is a bet that people want to pay so they can take a backseat and let a professional navigate their career opportunities for them. To date, the company estimates it has helped candidates set up 4,700 interviews and secure $200,000,000 in negotiated compensation for total salary offers.

What a time to be an engineer at Stripe:

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

In the DMs

Plexo Capital raises $79.3 million fund: Founded by former GV partner Lo Toney, Plexo Capital has closed a second investment vehicle of $79.3 million to back early-stage startups and venture capital funds. Per SEC filings, this is just the first tranche — Toney is targeting an end close of $100 million for his newest fund.
Also, has anyone had a busier 12 months than Josh Buckley? The startup CEO and investor, who had a stint as Product Hunt’s chief executive, is on a launching spree with Hyper and Prologue. His latest project? He’s raising a $500 million fund, per SEC filings.
Ro began hiring for its new male fertility line, which fits into my scoop on its acquisition of Dadi, an at-home sperm storage startup.
OH from a TechCruncher: Microsoft feels like a startup again, right?
OH from an early-stage founder: Tiger just spent millions of dollars to help me recruit employees.
twitter pattern

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Across the week

Equity, the tech news podcast I co-host alongside Alex Wilhelm and Mary Ann Azevedo, is going live! Join us for a virtual, live recording of our show this upcoming Thursday, February 10th — tickets are free, puns will come at the cost of our producers’ sanity. Our bestie pod, Found, is also joining the live circuit, so listen to them endlessly to prepare.

Seen on TechCrunch

F*ck creator funds, we need a creator index fund

Following his fiery Twitter tirades, Bolt founder Ryan Breslow is no longer CEO — and he says it’s his choice

Please make a dumb car

Popular puzzle game Wordle is being purchased by The New York Times

Seen on TechCrunch+

Why 2022 insurtech investment could surprise you

As public tech valuations fall, are startup investments evolving quickly enough?

Despite bumps, crypto investment starts 2022 with a roar

How to build and maintain momentum in your fundraising process

Until next time,


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