Seattle entrepreneur Hadi Partovi is on a mission to transform computer science education in the U.S. And Partovi is off to a pretty fast start with Code.org, the nonprofit which he formed last month with his twin brother Ali.
Among members of Code.org’s newly-formed advisory board are some of the biggest names in technology, including venture capitalist and Netscape founder Marc Andreessen; Square CEO Jack Dorsey; Dropbox CEO Drew Houston; angel investor Ron Conway; Paypal co-founder Max Levchin and many others.
From the Seattle area, Partovi has enlisted the advisory support of University of Washington computer scientist Ed Lazowska; Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith; and Amazon.com senior vice president Jeff Willke.
“I’ve never pitched an idea that has been easier to sell,” said Partovi when asked about the power brokers he’s lined up behind Code.org.
In other words, there’s huge agreement among those inside and outside of the technology community that more needs to be done to create computer scientists. Partovi says it’s nothing short of a national emergency, and many of his former colleagues are rallying behind his effort.
In addition to announcing the Code.org advisory board, Partovi today is unveiling a new video that he hopes will draw more attention to the issue. Directed by Lesley Chilcott, the producer of Waiting for Superman and An Inconvenient Truth, the film features everyone from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to Microsoft’s Bill Gates to NBA All Star Chris Bosh (who studied computer science at Georgia Tech before leaving for the NBA).
The message is clear: Coding is cool. (And it can make you a lot of money).
“The programmers of tomorrow are the wizards of the future,” notes Valve co-founder Gabe Newell in the video. “You’re going to look like you have magic powers compared to everybody else.“
Or as musician Will.i.am puts it: “Great coders are today’s rock stars.”
We profiled Code.org’s efforts last month, with Partovi telling us that the lack of computer science training in the U.S. is as big of a problem as the fiscal cliff. With Code.org, the Partovis are hoping to raise awareness of the issue, and spark more ways to get computer science into the curriculum at schools.
“The fastest way if you are in the 99 percent and want to join the one percent … is to learn computer programming,” said Partovi. “It is one of these skills where the computer doesn’t care if you are black or white or a girl or boy or old or young as long as you know how to speak the language of code, the computer will do what you want. And, if you are good at it, you can make a lot of money.”
Check out the video here:
Here’s the full list of the Code.org advisory board:
- Marc Andreessen - co-founder Netscape, co-founder Andreessen Horowitz
- Ron Conway – SV Angel
- Jack Dorsey - Creator of Twitter, Founder and CEO of Square
- Stuart Feldman - Google Vice President of Engineering. Former president, ACM
- Drew Houston – Dropbox CEO
- Maria Klawe - President, Harvey Mudd College
- Ed Lazowska – University of Washington Chair of Computer Science & Engineering
- Max Levchin - co-founder of Paypal
- Nicholas Negroponte - Chairman and founder, M.I.T. Media Lab
- Brad Smith – Microsoft General Counsel
- Jeff Willke - Amazon.com Senior Vice President of Consumer business