Lead Left Interview – John Katzman

This week we chat with John Katzman, founder and CEO of Noodle. Noodle is a NYC-based company providing on-line tools to help students find resources to find the right schools, services, and learning materials.

The Lead Left: John, back in 1981, you founded The Princeton Review as an SAT test prep class for New York City high school students. You latched on to a real trend back then.

John Katzman: It was a great ride. From a boot-strapped beginning over thirty years ago to a $150 million revenue business. We went public in 2001, but I really struggled with being public, and left a few years later to start 2U as an educational technology company with major colleges and universities as clients. We raised $100 million of VC and built it in a totally different way than we built Princeton Review. Things went well, and the board wanted to go public; I decided to leave in 2012.

TLL: What is hard about being a for-profit education company?

JK: Theoretically it should be easy to run an education company, but in reality it’s not easy to balance the views of shareholders with kids’ needs. And that’s not just theory–non-profits outperform for-profit in both K-12 and