Arnold Kling  

I Doubt the Business Model

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Consistency and IQ... Tyler Cowen on Stories...

Tech Crunch reports,


Benchmark Capital made its largest seed investment to date -- $25 million -- in a startup/university called The Minerva Project.

Pointer from Tyler Cowen. Jordan Weissmann also has coverage.

The goal seems to be to compete with Harvard in terms of arrogance and exclusivity. Is there really a market for a college that tries to make people feel even more smug than Harvard alumni? And is it really possible for a new entrant to capture that market?


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COMMENTS (7 to date)
Steve Sailer writes:

"Is there really a market for a college that tries to make people feel even more smug than Harvard alumni?"

Yes.

And is it really possible for a new entrant to capture that market?

No.

Xerographica writes:

Your title makes me laugh! I can imagine that if back in the day a friend had told me about his plan to sell rocks as pets my response might have been, "I doubt the business model".

Speaking of pets and business models...what about that pooping dog toy? What did that guy's friends tell him? Maybe they said, "I doubt the business model."

Out of curiosity...I wonder how many of you have seen the South Park episode on smugness...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smug_Alert!

Mike writes:

I'm with Steve.

There is a huge market for education offered at the substantially reduced prices internet technology should allow.

There is not a huge market for an online Ivy.

After reading as many articles as I could find on the funding, I predict this: the business that will emerge will be very different from the one talked about in the last few days.

Steve Sailer writes:

If they made their "on-line Ivy" incredibly hard to get into, it might work.

It's like this night club that insisted upon three forms of ID at the front door. They didn't actually care about your ID, they just wanted to slow down the process so that there would be a long line on the sidewalk, which would convince people driving down the street that this was the coolest place to go.

Replicating that in the higher education sphere doesn't seem like an impossible challenge for an ace marketer, but nobody has pulled it off in decades.

Hugh writes:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jun/05/new-college-dawkins-grayling-ferguson

This was a British attempt at something similar in 2011. I haven't heard much more about it.

The "business model" was to assemble some stars (Dawkins, Grayling, Ferguson, Pinker, ...) and hope that students will pay big bucks (pounds actually) because of that. I don't know how much teaching they would actually have done.

For about $199.99 you can get all these gentlemen's books from Amazon and so save yourself a lot of money.

But maybe that's just my British cynicism shining through.

Keith Beacham writes:

Arnold,

Would you mind elaborating on this subject. My opinion is that the intangibles that make a learning institution elite are so significant as to make their capture in a business plan impossible.

Bill Drissel writes:

H Ford built cheap cars in hi volume - not gilded coaches with exquisite workmanship for the rich. I think that Udacity and Khan Academy are the wave of the future. I don't see how their economic advantage can be overcome.

Drudge gets 21 million visits a day. How does this compare with the circulation of any newspaper on earth?

Bill Drissel
Grand Prairie, TX

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