Bridgepoint, which owns Ashford University and offers online program management services, will pay $17.5 million in cash and 2.5 million shares of common stock upon the closing of the deal, which is expected to happen by the end of March. (At the time of writing, Bridgepoint was trading at $7 a share, which means the total transaction value could be around $35 million.) Another 2.25 million shares will be issued in the future if Fullstack meets certain milestones.
The company began exploring options around new capital or a potential sale in mid-2018, says co-founder David Yang.
Based in New York, Fullstack Academy offers remote and in-person career training programs focusing on software engineering. The company, founded in 2013, claims to have graduated more than 2,500 students from its full- and part-time offerings, which includes a female-only program named after Grace Hopper.
Fullstack doesn’t just run its own programs. In February, the for-profit school announced a partnership with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to launch 26-week coding bootcamps for the university’s continuing education school. That model is similar to what is offered by companies like Trilogy Education, which partners with colleges to create coding programs often through the institution’s continuing education arm.
Leaders at Fullstack previously told EdSurge that the company would be looking for more opportunities to expand and work with more colleges. The deal with Bridgepoint signals a serious push in that direction. “The partnership with Bridgepoint Education will also enable Fullstack Academy to invest in new and existing partnerships with universities and governments,” a press release states.
“We continue to [use] the Fullstack campuses to try experiment things and see what works and what doesn’t work,” when it comes to curricula, says Yang. “But I think we can reach the next set of great talent out there by working with universities and understanding their local employment problems.”
The deal also represents yet another consolidation for the coding bootcamp industry. In 2017, Dev Bootcamp and Iron yard announced they were shutting down operations, and in 2018, Learners Guild followed suit. General Assembly, the largest tech training company in the market, was acquired for $412.5 million.
University partnerships present a small, but growing opportunity for coding school operators to expand their footprint. A recent report analyzing the size and scope of the bootcamp industry found that these university-affiliated programs make up around 5 percent of the market.
Under the new ownership, Fullstack also has plans to build out more government partnerships. The company already works with New York City to offer a fellowship for local residents earning under $50,000 per year to attend the bootcamp for free.
Fullstack Academy will become an independently-operating subsidiary of Bridgepoint, which claims to work with more than 38,000 online students. The bootcamp will continue to operate as its own brand, and there are no planned changes to its staff and leadership.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional reporting.