OpenClassrooms has a long, interesting story. It all started in 1999!
1999-2003: The Early Days
Back in 1999, our cofounder Mathieu Nebra was still a student. Aged 13 at the time, he wanted to learn how to make a website. He went to the bookstore and looked for beginner's books in website development.
He couldn't find one! Every single book seemed to be designed for IT professionals. On the back cover, you would read: "This book is for professionals who already have experience in web development." Hmm... 🤔
He couldn't find a beginner's book but chose one of the books anyway. In fact, his parents offered him the book for Christmas (how cute 🎅 ):
He started learning with this book, but he wasn't satisfied. The book seemed too complicated. He couldn't understand why some words were used on page 10 and then defined on page 110.
Mathieu decided to rewrite the book, the way he would have liked to read it. It didn't become a book (Mathieu was too young to think about publishing a book), but it did become a website. He launched it in 1999 and called it "Le Site du Zéro" ("The Zero Website" in French, like doing things starting from zero).
Of course, nobody visited it at first (have you seen how ugly it was?!), except a few friends, who then talked to other friends, etc. You can imagine the story : a few years later, several hundreds of thousands people were visiting the website (today, it's several million every month!) to learn how to program.
2003-2007: Everyone Is Invited To The Party
When Mathieu Nebra met Pierre Dubuc in 2002, he didn't know that they would ultimately launch a company together. Pierre was one of the first visitors of the website, and he wanted to lend a hand with the code.
Pierre was younger than Mathieu but he had very strong technical skills in web development already. He started working with Mathieu and a few others to build the website again from scratch, allowing anyone to create an account, ask questions on forums, and even create their own courses!
Traffic skyrocketed, and the pair started wondering what could be done with such a website. 🤔
Mathieu and Pierre were finishing their studies in IT, and the website started to take a lot of their time. Ultimately, they decided it would be great to create a company together.
In 2007, the company was created.
2007-2013: Starting A Company
With the newly created company, Mathieu and Pierre started to work more closely together. They installed themselves in a small office in the Paris suburbs, just below the roof (we include this detail to say it was so hot in the summer ☀️ )!
They even hired the first young people for the company (and young they were!):
At the time, we sold advertisements on the website and books from the most successful online courses. It went so well that we ultimately sold over 150,000 books and managed to raise 2 million euros from a famous Paris-based VC, Alven Capital, to help us expand our projects.
2013-Present: Becoming OpenClassrooms
In 2013, we decided to rebrand ourselves "OpenClassrooms" (the previous French name wasn't suited anymore to our international goals). We also progressively changed our focus from ads and books to online Premium offers and fully online learning experiences.
We were lucky to have the French President, François Hollande, announce that we'd offer Premium accounts to every unemployed person here in France. He even came to OpenClassrooms to give diplomas to our first successful students!
We started creating our first courses in English and Spanish, and the office is becoming even more international! With more than 50 people (and growing), today we're on track to help as many find a new job as possible! 🚀