Coding programs in Austin
We’ve long discussed the advantages and disadvantages of higher education for technologists in an era where the tech world is offering unique educational opportunities through different coding programs that churn out high quality talent in a fraction of the time (at a fraction of the cost).
Austin (where we are headquartered) is home to a burgeoning coding program scene, from Galvanize to courses at The Coding Bootcamp at UT, Iron Yard, MakerSquare, Austin Coding Academy, Dev Bootcamp, General Assembly, and now New York Code + Design Academy (NYCDA).
We chatted with NYCDA’s Austin lead, Kevin Newsum about the goings on, what makes them different, who typically enrolls, and why they’re up north.
You just had an open house, how’d that go?
We were amped to host a terrific crowd at our recent open house: they sat in on a workshop canvassing ‘The Building Blocks of the Web’ where we learned about how different programming languages and techniques help make the web happen. We also learned that Ryan Lochte has entirely too many Twitter followers (what’s that about?), and shared our philosophy about teaching people how to code and design.
There’s another open house soon, right?
When do courses start? Can you talk about costs?
The Web Development Intensive (WDI) course launches October 17th… this is our Full Stack, Junior Developer level track. It’s immersive and designed to teach students real skills they can immediately begin to apply in a junior level developer position. We’ve also seen lots of interest in our WD100 offering (which begins October 24th), both from students with no coding experience who want to get a handle on web fundamentals, and also from professionals who work with developers who want to be able to communicate more effectively in their day gig.
The WDI course runs an even $10k, and the WD100 course is $3850. We also do something that I think is pretty neat: if someone takes the WD100 class and is interested in moving forward into the WDI class afterward, we’ll apply the cost of WD100 toward their WDI tuition, meaning that they can take the immersive class for just over six grand (a significant discount).
How is NYCDA different? How will this program differentiate itself in Austin?
The community aspect of what we do is super important to us: we believe that learning code or design is not only personally empowering, but also can be a force for positive change in the lives of our students in Austin. We encourage students to tap into what’s important to them and their communities to encourage positive impact.
Occasionally these are reflected in the projects we see come out of cohorts: one student had an aunt who was studying for her US naturalization exam, and stressing out about all she had to learn. So he created an app that would text her questions she needed to learn a couple of times a day, so she could absorb the material passively. Not only did that help his aunt become an American citizen, but it’s also something that can continue to help others in a similar situation. Good vibes.
Why is the campus up north instead of downtown?
While I’d admit the appeal of perpetual circling and squinting at parking meters sounds delightful, we had campus space available in north central Austin, which has been appealing to some who’d just as soon skip the downtown bustle.
Who typically takes courses at NYCDA?
All sorts of people, actually: many who enroll already have traditional degrees and are looking for opportunities to augment their skillset and grow into high demand careers. Others are shifting focus in their career, starting new life chapters.
While many are in their twenties and thirties, it’s not unusual at all to see students of all ages take a course. And we’ve designed custom courses for companies too (like the one we’re currently working on with Disney) that happen off-campus at their location.
What attracted NYCDA to Austin?
Obviously Austin’s vibrant tech sector (and the metro’s expansion in general) has been well documented. This city continues see explosive growth, and the tech industry in particular remains a focus.
There was also an interesting tech study commissioned by the Austin Tech Council last year that suggested a range of 2,500-3,500 tech sector job openings annually over the next ten years. Even when conversations about tech’s role in Austin get vigorous (as they occasionally do), the industry here casts a sizable shadow.
Coca Cola drops 200 brands, most you’ve never heard of
(BUSINESS NEWS) Coca Cola hopes to revitalize their drink arsenal by rolling back some “underperforming” brands (that you might not have known they were still making.)
2020 has forced a lot of businesses to return to their proverbial drawing boards, and the Coca Cola Company is no exception. Last week, Coca Cola announced in a corporate blog post that they are halting the production of 200 of their beverage brands.
In the words of Cath Coetzer, the head of global marketing for Coca Cola, the restructuring will “accelerate [Coke’s] transformation into a total beverage company”.
“We’re prioritizing bets that have scale potential across beverage categories, consumer need states and drinking occasions,” Coetzer added. “Because scale is the algorithm that truly drives growth.”
That’s… a surprising amount of technical beverage jargon, Cath.
Coca Cola is already the leading manufacturer of non-alcoholic drinks on the planet. It’s hard to imagine their scope becoming any more “total.” But this strategy shift comes as the consumer thirst for soda is drying up.
Soda consumption has steadily fallen over the last ten consecutive years, thanks to a swath of modern studies that link excess sugar intake with negative health outcomes like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
In light of this research, regional sales taxes on drinks with added sugar have been debated across the country, despite aggressive corporate lobbying against it. All this has meant that beverage companies have had no choice but to pivot hard.
Take Odwalla, a Coca Cola brand that touted its vitamin content and servings of produce, which was discontinued earlier this year. Despite being marketed as a health brand, Odwalla flavors contained whopping amounts of added sugar: Their popular “superfood” flavor quietly boasted 47 grams per bottle.
The brands affected by Coke’s recent soda cull also include TAB diet soda, ZICO coconut water, and Coca Cola Life, plus internationally marketed drink brands like Vegibeta of Japan and Kuat of Brazil.
Condensing their portfolio allows Coca Cola to prioritize their most profitable products and invest in more new beverage trendsetters that better fit the times, like sparkling water, coffee, or even cannabis-infused products.
Uber and Lyft face the music as employee ruling is upheld
(BUSINESS NEWS) The battle for Uber and Lyft drivers’ status continues, and despite company protests, the official ruling has been upheld.
A gig economy has its pros and cons. For anyone who has ever been an independent contractor, done freelance work, or worked for companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, the pros are clear – you get to work when you want, where you want and how much you want. Flexibility and gigs go hand in hand.
And the cons? Well, those are a little more complex. Without a W2 linking you directly to the company, you as an independent contractor don’t receive the same rights and perks that your 9-5 employee friends might. For example, your employer is not required to provide a healthcare option for you. You are also not entitled to earned time off or minimum wage.
So which is better?
The gig economy conundrum has made its way all the way to an appellate court in California last week. The ruling was that Uber and Lyft must classify their drivers as employees.
Back in May, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and city attorneys from L.A., San Diego and San Francisco brought forth a lawsuit that argues Uber and Lyft gain an unfair, unlawful competitive advantage by not classifying their workers as W2s.
Uber and Lyft responded to the suit, stating that if they were to reclassify their drivers as employees, their companies would be irreparably harmed – though the judge in last week’s ruling negated that claim, stating that neither company would suffer any “grave or irreparable harm by being prohibited from violating the law” and also that the financial burden of converting workers to employees “do[es] not rise to the level of irreparable harm.” Essentially, the judge called their BS.
Additionally, according to the judge, there is nothing that would prevent Uber and Lyft from offering flexibility and independence to their drivers – and they have had plenty of time to transition their drivers from independent contractors to employees (the gig worker bill that spurred this lawsuit was decided in 2018). Seems fair to me!
However, there is an oppositional proposition on the ballot that muddies the waters. Proposition 22, if passed, is a measure that would keep rideshare drivers and delivery workers classified as independent contractors, meaning that those workers from Uber and Lyft would be exempt from the new state law that classifies them as W-2 employees. And you might be surprised to know how many of the app-based rideshare workers are in favor of Prop 22!
In a class-action lawsuit, Uber has been accused of encouraging drivers and delivery workers to support Prop 22 via the company’s driver-scheduling app. It appears, unfortunately, that Uber is manipulating its workforce by wrongly hanging their jobs over their heads.
On this matter, Gig Workers Rising stated: “If Uber and Lyft are successful in passing Prop. 22 and undo the will of the people, they will inspire countless other corporations to adapt their business models and misclassify workers in order to further enrich the wealthy few at the expense of their workforce.”
Ultimately, the fate of California Uber and Lyft driver’s in still in question. It’s unclear if the question we should be asking is, will Lyft drivers have proper healthcare through their jobs or will they have jobs at all. All of this is occurring at a time where millions are jobless and 158,000 individuals sought unemployment support this week due to COVID-19 layoffs.
Personally, I have little sympathy for tech-giants that rake in billions off the backs of the exploited working-class. If the CEO of Uber is an ostentatious billionaire, then his employees should have health insurance. Clear and simple.
The scariest part of the gig economy is that workers have become increasingly happy to work for a company that gives them little to no benefits. More companies are dissolving or combining positions so that they can further bypass their responsibilities to their employees. Let us not be fooled: The dispute over whether or not to make Uber and Lyft workers W2 employees does not affect the health of the companies themselves. What it will affect is how fat the bonuses will be the big guys at the top, and that’s exactly why the companies are so adverse to the ruling. They’d rather their workers suffer than lose a single dime.
Bay Area co-living startup strands hundreds of renters at dire time
(BUSINESS NEWS) They’re blaming COVID for failing as a co-living space, but it looks like trouble was well established even before now.
Over the last few years, “co-living” startups have become increasingly common in tech-rich cities like San Francisco. These companies lease large houses, then rent individual bedrooms for as much as $2,000 per month in hopes of attracting the young professionals who make up the tech industry. Many offer food, cleaning services, group activities, and hotel-quality accommodations to do so.
But the true value in co-living companies lies in their role as a third party: Smoothing over relations, providing hassle free income to homeowners and improved accountability to tenants… in theory, anyway. The reality has proved the opposite can just as easily be true.
In a September company email, Bay Area co-living startup HubHaus released a statement that claimed they were “unable to pay October rent” on their leased properties. Hubhaus also claimed to have “no funds available to pay any amounts that may be owed landlords, tenants, trade creditors, or contractors.”
This left hundreds of SF Bay Area renters scrambling to arrange shelter with little notice, with the start of a second major COVID-19 outbreak on the horizon.
HubHaus exhibited plenty of red flags leading up to this revelation. Employees complained of insufficient or late payment. The company stopped paying utilities during the spring, and they quietly discontinued cleaning services while tenants continued to pay for them.
Businesses like HubHaus charge prices that could rent a private home in most of the rest of the country, in exchange for a room in a house of 10 or more people. PodShare is a similar example: Another Bay Area-based co-living startup, whose offerings include “$1,200 bunk beds” in a shared, hostel-like environment.
As a former Bay Area resident, it’s hard not to be angry about these stories. But they have been the unfortunate reality since long before the pandemic. Many urbanites across the country cannot afford to opt out of a shared living situation, and these business models only exacerbate the race to the bottom of city living standards.
HubHaus capitalized on this situation and took advantage of their tenants, who were simply looking for an affordable place to live in a market where that’s increasingly hard to find.
They’ve tried to place the blame for their failure on COVID-19 — but all signs seem to indicate that they had it coming.
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