On May 26, 1995, Bill Gates released a now-legendary memo entitled “The Internet Tidal Wave”. In it, he exhorted Microsoft to assign “the highest level of importance” to adapting its business to take advantage of the “coming wave” that he envisioned the internet would present. The first version of Internet Explorer was released less than three months later and the internet age (or, at least, the age of browser wars) had officially begun.
A technological generation or two later, Mark Zuckerberg famously rallied Facebook in 2012 to go ‘all-in’ on mobile devices at the expense of the company’s historical focus on desktop. Not long after that, as mobile devices exploded in popularity and capabilities, Facebook executed their all-in pivot to massive success.
Based on what I’m seeing of the advances of AI in the last few months, I feel confident stating that we are standing at an equally transformative moment in tech. “Why now?” you might ask. “Hasn’t AI been around for decades?” True, but considering the progress of AI and ML over the last few years, it’s clear that we’ve passed an inflection point. And if you blinked, you likely missed it.
The Rising Tide
The opening salvo, which didn’t generate much fanfare, was when OpenAI (you’ll want to remember that name) released the image generating model DALL-E on January 5, 2021, which gave users the ability to create images from simple prompts. Based on the GPT-3 API, the interest of this model largely stayed in research & academic circles — until the summer of 2022.
Midjourney launched an open beta on July 12, 2022, and suddenly, anyone could begin to create stunning images in literally seconds. Just days later, OpenAI released DALL-E 2 in open beta. A few weeks after that, Stable Diffusion joined the mix of AI image generation. Almost immediately (and predictably), controversy followed, and more on top of that.
But what really made AI leap to the forefront of not just tech, but the zeitgeist, was the explosive entrance of ChatGPT, launched by OpenAI on November 30, 2022. If you’re looking at product launch windows, the noisy time of the holidays is a tough slog, but the growth of ChatGPT adoption was nearly instantaneous — passing one million users in its first week. Twitter, which was in the midst of its own myriad of problems, caught fire as users shared example after example of mind-blowing responses generated.
Ripples Across the Water
Beyond this, there are the startups that can now turn text into video, create games, create powerpoint presentations, draft emails, overturn wire fees, bring old photos to life and more. It’s no surprise that devs are flocking to AI.
Here at Kodeco, stories like these, along with examples created by our tech-hungry team, immediately generated intense discussions on our internal Discord channels. Just like Twitter, our Discord forums were flooded with amazing examples of AI-generated art, text, and video — with many counterpoints and concerns raised as well.
After all, the history of Kodeco is founded on our roots as a content publisher, and now, with a simple prompt, ChatGPT could spit out entire paragraphs. What’s to stop it from eventually being able to write full articles or books? Build video courses? While I don’t see ChatGPT as existential as a threat to us as much as it is to, say, Stack Overflow, there are still a lot of unknowns as to how machine-generated content will affect our business in the long run.
Paddling With the Flow
On the positive side, AI has enormous potential to augment our existing capabilities as a learning platform, and to allow our content creators to reach far more learners than ever before. AI can give us the freedom to focus on our mission of building a world-class learning platform for the current and next generation of mobile developers, and can open up new opportunities with its transformative nature.
Moreover, Kodeco has been evolving over the past few years, even before we adopted our shiny new name, from a digital publisher of content to a robust e-learning platform. We now have expertly-curated learning paths that guide you seamlessly from a novice developer, all the way through to an expert at building and shipping apps; bootcamps that are so immensely popular that they sell out faster than we can staff and launch them; and in the near future, assessments and certificates of completion for our community members to display proudly…and much, much more. For our enterprise customers, we brought forth additional features including a comprehensive suite of analytics and engagement statistics. In short, where we were as a company a few years ago, was much more in the crosshairs of AI compared to where we are today.
But it isn’t likely to stay that way. The rate of AI adoption is going to spur incredible innovation and eventually, be gifted the ability to create higher-order learning strategies like crafting learning paths, developing assessments, and possibly even leading bootcamps. Who knows? That’s the beauty of tech and innovation.
Either way you look at it, the only option is to lean in and ride the wave that AI has unleashed upon us. I’m proud that one of our core values at Kodeco is iteration. It’s built into our DNA, and this is a fantastic opportunity to honor our legacy and lean into AI adoption, which will propel us to new heights. This is our moment to embrace the massive change in front of us. If we can ride this AI wave, there is no telling how far we could grow and evolve.
Surfers say that one of the most important things when you’re trying to catch a wave is that you fully commit. If you hesitate as you stand up, you’re likely to find yourself tumbling through the water before you know it. Likewise, those who afraid to catch the wave, or pause to assess the situation, will likely find the wave crashing over them, with effects that are hard to predict.
I’ll leave you with this. On June 28, 2007, Apple had a market capitalization of $106 billion. At that time, Nokia, the mobile giant, had over one billion customers and a nearly identical market cap of $110 billion. The very next day, the iPhone was released to stunning success. Exactly five years later, Nokia was valued at less than $8 billion, while Apple had soared to $546 billion. Riding the wave unlocks unbelievable opportunities!
What do you think? Is this an exciting, or scary, time for EdTech? I’d love to hear from you about how you’re seeing AI develop. Drop me a line, and let’s ride this wave together!
Yours in tech,