Freddy Vega, the co-founder and CEO of Platzi, Latin America’s most popular edtech startup, is a controversial character on social media, where his hot takes often land him in hot water.
But the discourse around Vega has done little to dampen industry enthusiasm for Platzi, an online platform mostly geared toward training Spanish-speaking students to enter the digital economy through coding, web design, digital marketing, and more. In an age of tech unicorns, Platzi has done a lot with relatively little: The company said 3 million students have gone through its program in eight years. Vega claims that 84% of alumni get a job that pays 10 times more than their previous jobs after a year on his platform.
Platzi is leveraging the current moment, in which remote work has accelerated digitalization and made tech workers essential and scarce. Edtech startups have been far more effective than traditional educational institutions at helping the workforce transition. And among Latin America’s educational platforms, Platzi has become a household name and an investor darling.
Unlike many of his wealthy startup peers across Latin America, Vega comes from a working-class neighborhood of Bogotá. He and his Guatemalan co-founder, Christian Van Der Henst, joined Y Combinator in 2015. In addition to running Platzi, he’s also a motivational speaker, a media fixture, and the sponsor of a Spanish La Liga soccer club, Granada.
On his social media accounts, Vega expends considerable energy fighting for causes that are important to him. He has taken swipes at Colombian politicians, accusing them of defending old oligarchies from tech disruption, and engaged with trolls who responded to his tweets about inequality in Latin America. Vega insisted that they join Platzi, promising they’d be better paid than in their “troll farms.”
It’s all part of the mission he set out for his company — “to break the cycle of poverty of millions of Latin Americans and ensure that the next generation of technology enthusiasts and entrepreneurs is born here.”