Rumors have begun circulating that Xavier Niel will announce a “ecole de programmation” tomorrow morning. Journalists received invitations to a press conference for tomorrow morning, but, like all things with Niel, this launch has been months in the making. While the news that Niel will launch a school dedicated to IT is interesting – the rumor leaked originally by Olivier Ezratty this morning – it doesn’t tell us much, especially when you consider that Xavier Niel already has a school that he cofounded with Jacques-Antoine Granjon – EEMI.
However, a source close the announcement has told us that it’s more than just another IT university – it’s a revolution in the way developers are trained.
Step One: Steal the 3 Directors of an existing Engineering School in Paris (EpiTech)
If you’re going to start an engineering school, you’re going to need someone who knows how to do it – Xavier Niel went for Epitech. It was announced in January that 3 directors of EpiTech, a well-known Paris engineering school with a reputation for great coders, had left, including Nicolas Sadirac, EpiTech’s founder who attended both Stanford and UCLA. Along with Kwame Yamgnane, Vice President of Epitech, and Florian Bucher, the schools’ IT Manager(CTO), Niel has armed himself with a world-class set of associates that would help anyone start a new engineering school. But why steal the 3 heads of an existing engineering school if you’re just going to start another one? The answer. It’s not just another Engineering School
Step Two: Change the way Schools Produce Developers. 1000 Students, No Tuition
What’s really big about Xavier Niel is the possibility to innovate on the education system. A source close to the announcement tells us that Niel’s new school will accept up to 1000 students per year, and after a few months 3/4 of those will be weeded out, leaving just the top-tier students. Perhaps this ability to identify top talent comes from the EpiTech experience that the founders have had; their program is known for being tough and a little crazy.
The second thing, is that tuition is free. Niel knows all too well that if you want to get people to use your product, make it cheaper than the competition. And with public school in Paris so cheap, Niel’s rumored to be making tuition 100% free. Right now, it’s not clear how Niel would monetize – but with an army of developers, I’m sure he can find away to make up the lost tuition money.
Students will be taken right after high school, and the program will last 3 years, according to one source, though it’s been refuted by another. The goal here would be to have students ready to work more quickly – I know one EpiTech student who was a CTO for a few months during his internship at a very well-known media group here in Paris. There’s no doubt that these directors have what it takes to produce great developers.
Update: Nicolas Sardirac has posted a link to Born2Code, which may indicate the potential name of the school