The new partnership between 2U and WeWork, including its newly-acquired Flatiron School, was in the works before WeWork officially acquired the NYC-based coding school.
See, as 2U CEO and co-founder Chip Paucek tells it, the Lanham, Md.-based education technology company was in awe of Flatiron’s online learning technology, and they were already in talks to see how the two could partner. 2U provides a customizable online platform that lets schools, like Harvard, NYU and UNC-Chapel Hill, offer their degree programs virtually. And Flatiron’s Learn.co technology is used to help its student learn how to code virtually. WeWork coincidentally just came along and acquired Flatiron in the middle of those talks.
Those conversations turned into a multi-layered strategic partnership announced Monday.
“It’s been a fast and furious five months or so,” Paucek said. “It hasn’t been that long.”
Here’s what it includes:
- WeWork will provide students in 2U-powered online graduate programs access to all of their locations around the world;
- 2U will offer $5 million in scholarships over the next three years for WeWork community members and employees to their 2U partner school programs and GetSmarter’s online short courses;
- WeWork and 2U will launch a physical learning space, called the Future of Learning and Work, that will open in 2019;
- And 2U has gained a proprietary license for Flatiron School’s technology.
While a clear timeline for these offerings is not set in stone, in an interview, Paucek said most of these programs will be rolled out “pretty quickly.”
For 2U, the new partnership allows them to offer something they haven’t been able to before: a set-in-stone way for their students to meet in-person and have a physical community while they study.
He also said that the added programming comes at no extra cost to 2U’s partner schools, or subsequently the students.
“Our students do come together in both planned and unplanned ways all the time, and having the ability to do that as part of the program through the WeWork network is pretty incredible,” Paucek said.
During the negotiation process, Paucek notes that similarities in company culture helped seal the deal for 2U.
“The whole process when we were working with WeWork, I felt like we were working with us,” he said.
If anything, 2U is clearly doubling down on how much its tech platform builds a community. In building the physical campus with WeWork, 2U hopes to leverage its network of its partners’ faculty to put together a lecture series and create a go-to place for 2U-powered in-person programs.
And, as Paucek points out, the partnership furthers 2U’s goal of changing the way people learn.
“We think we are building a once-in-a-lifetime company, and so this WeWork relationship can add a tremendous amount of opportunity and growth,” Paucek said. “So, we love it.”