Aggregation Theory and the legacies of Paul LeBlanc and Chip Paucek
Is there a limit to the potential scale of educational institutions?
I hope that many of you enjoyed Sunday’s edition of Weekend Reading. There will be one more Weekend Reading this weekend and Funding + M&A Update next week before I pivot to end-of-year thoughts and a holiday break.
With that, on to the update.
I normally use my second email of the week for Funding + M&A Updates. But, on Wednesday SNHU announced that President Paul LeBlanc was leaving. His retirement comes just a couple of weeks after 2U replaced founder and CEO Chip Paucek.
The circumstances of their departures are different, and the announcements had nothing to do with each other. But the timing is helpful to internet historians like me who like to think in terms of epochs.
Chip and Paul are two of a small circle of people who have driven the narrative in the education sector for the last two decades. Between them, they have conferred north of 250,000 college and graduate-level degrees (and 100K+ sub-degree credentials). Their organizations, and those affiliated with them, currently enroll 300,000+ students. They are two of the only people you know who (probably) have Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s personal phone number - SNHU and 2U spend $40M+/year on Google ads (and ~$200M/year in total advertising).1
However, this essay is not a celebration (or denigration) of the achievements of Chip and Paul. Rather, it is an exploration of why their respective platforms are not bigger.