Connect with us

Technology

Lambda School, a coding bootcamp that takes a cut of your next tech salary, now takes a 30% cut in staff • The Register

Published

on

The Lambda School, an online coding bootcamp based in San Francisco, on Thursday said it will lay off 65 employees, about a third of the workforce.

The staff cuts follow a settlement announced earlier this week with the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation that requires the school to remove deceptive language from its student contracts.

The department argued that the school’s contract with students violated the California Consumer Financial Protection Law, which took effect at the beginning of the year and was enacted in response to predatory financial practices following from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lambda School offers students the option to finance tuition by deferring payment until after they graduate and get a job, whereupon they’re contractually obligated to repay the cost of their education from their salary.

paycheck shock

Ex-Geeks staff lose legal bid to claw back withheld training costs from final paycheques

READ MORE

The school’s Income Share Agreement (ISA) with students falsely stated that the amount owed constituted a “qualified student loan” that would persist as an obligation even if the student declared bankruptcy.

That’s not the case and Lambda School has agreed to have its financing contracts reviewed for legal compliance and to correct misleading marketing claims.

ISAs have become a popular repayment scheme in recent years and are offered by several dozen colleges and bootcamps. But unlike loans, where the law recognizes specific rights for borrowers and creditors, ISAs have no legal definition beyond the fact that they’re contracts.

“ISAs are financial products, drafted by lawyers, often structured to provide an attractive return on the investment of funders or private investors,” wrote Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressional Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Katie Porter in a June, 2019 letter [PDF] to then Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “They carry many common pitfalls of traditional private student loans – with the added danger of deceptive rhetoric and marketing that obscure their true nature.”

The lawmakers expressed concern that ISAs contain exploitative terms, like mandatory arbitration agreements and class-action lawsuit bans, and they’re not subject to oversight by financial regulators.

One month later that year, a bipartisan group of US Senators proposed a bill titled “ISA Student Protection Act of 2019” to better define the legal parameters of ISAs. It contained impoverishment safeguard provisions like a minimal income level below which ISA payees would no longer be obligated to pay a percentage of their salaries. But the legislation never received a vote.

Doubling down

In a blog post, Austen Allred, co-founder and CEO of Lambda School, revealed the restructuring plan, which includes a temporary halt to enrollment in the school’s part-time programs, and went on to defend ISAs.

“Lambda pioneered the income share agreement (ISA) in the career and technical education space, and we’re now watching many of the schools who followed us abandon their ISA offerings because they believe it’s impossible to make this model work,” he wrote. “We strongly disagree.”

On Twitter, Allred has staked out a still stronger stance, extolling how much better ISAs are than traditional loans – having revamped Lambda’s ISA terms in February – and declaring that it’s ISA-or-bust for the Lambda School.

“It’s entirely possible that in the next 12 months nearly every school stops offering ISAs,” he said. “In fact, I think that’s the most likely outcome. Lambda School is in it for the long haul, though. It’s interest-aligned tuition or nothing at all.”

While it’s not difficult to find Lambda School detractors, there’s also data that suggests some students prosper from their coding bootcamp experience. According to Course Report’s 2020 Coding Bootcamp Alumni Outcomes & Demographics Report, published in March, 2021, “Students who used an ISA or Deferred Tuition actually report higher average salaries – ~$79,000 on average compared to those who opted out of an ISA/Deferred Tuition Plan and earn ~$69,500/year.”

Lambda School has come under fire for claiming that it only makes money when its students make money, even as it reportedly sold half its ISAs for $10K each in 2018 to a hedge fund as if the tuition contracts were any other speculative financial instrument.

This is just the sort of scenario Warren, Pressley, and Porter warned about in their 2019 letter.

“The opportunity for private investors to profit from ISAs – and even sell their investments on Wall Street, just like private student loans – demonstrates the core misalignment between the interests of ISA funders and investors and the best interests of students,” the lawmakers wrote.

“It also creates an incentive for funders and private investors to generate as much profit as possible from ISAs – a dangerous scenario for students.” ®



Source link

Technology

Power Capital takes majority interest in Terra Solar’s portfolio

Published

on

Terra Solar, a NovaUCD start-up founded in 2016, is giving up its sites in Wexford and Cork to Power Capital to develop solar farms.

Dublin-based company Power Capital Renewable Energy (PCRE) has announced plans to acquire majority interest in Terra Solar’s 400MW portfolio.

This will bring the company’s total solar assets to 840MW and boost its presence in the Irish solar power space.

A start-up that sprung out of NovaUCD, the University College Dublin accelerator, Terra Solar was founded by David Fewer and André Fernon in 2016. State-owned ESB was one of Terra Solar’s early investors, putting up €2.5m for a stake in the company.

Paris-based VC firm Omnes Capital will back the development of the solar sites over the next few years, which require around €200m to build out. Irish and international lenders will also back the development.

Power Capital director Peter Duff said that his company’s aim of becoming Ireland’s leading independent power producer has come a step closer with the deal.

Support Silicon Republic

“Both Terra Solar and PCRE share common values and ambitions to help Ireland meet its 2030 targets and we are excited that Terra Solar chose us as a partner to bring these sites through construction,” he said.

The solar farm sites, located in Wexford and Cork, are a culmination of more than four years of engagement with local landowners, communities and planners, said Fewer.

“We will be retaining an equity stake in the developments and will be working intensively with all stakeholders over the coming few years to ensure that these sites are successfully constructed while equally continuing to grow our remaining development pipeline of 600MW.”

Justin Brown, co-founder of Power Capital, said that the company is currently in talks with other industry bodies about “increasing our foothold in the sector and we expect to see renewable energy being the dominant generator of electricity across Ireland within the next decade”.

Construction on the solar farms is set to begin in 2022 and the project is expected to be completed in the next five years.

Source link

Continue Reading

Technology

2021 iPhone photography awards – in pictures | Technology

Published

on

The 14th annual iPhone photography awards offer glimpses of beauty, hope and the endurance of the human spirit. Out of thousands of submissions, photojournalist Istvan Kerekes of Hungary was named the grand prize winner for his image Transylvanian Shepherds. In it, two rugged shepherds traverse an equally rugged industrial landscape, bearing a pair of lambs in their arms.

Source link

Continue Reading

Technology

With Alphabet’s legendary commitment to products, we can’t wait to see what its robotics biz Intrinsic achieves • The Register

Published

on

Alphabet today launched its latest tech startup, Intrinsic, which aims to build commercial software that will power industrial robots.

Intrinsic will focus on developing software control tools for industrial robots used in manufacturing, we’re told. Its pitch is that the days of humans having to manually program and adjust a robot’s every move are over, and that mechanical bots should be more autonomous and smart, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and leaps in training techniques.

This could make robots easier to direct – give them a task, and they’ll figure out the specifics – and more efficient – the AI can work out the best way to achieve its goal.

“Over the last few years, our team has been exploring how to give industrial robots the ability to sense, learn, and automatically make adjustments as they’re completing tasks, so they work in a wider range of settings and applications,” said CEO Wendy Tan White.

“Working in collaboration with teams across Alphabet, and with our partners in real-world manufacturing settings, we’ve been testing software that uses techniques like automated perception, deep learning, reinforcement learning, motion planning, simulation, and force control.”

Tan White – a British entrepreneur and investor who was made an MBE by the Queen in 2016 for her services to the tech industry – will leave her role as vice president of X, Alphabet’s moonshot R&D lab, to concentrate on Intrinsic.

She earlier co-founded and was CEO of website-building biz Moonfruit, and helped multiple early-stage companies get up and running as a general partner at Entrepreneur First, a tech accelerator. She is also a board trustee of the UK’s Alan Turing Institute, and member of Blighty’s Digital Economic Council.

“I loved the role I played in creating platforms that inspired the imagination and entrepreneurship of people all over the world, and I’ve recently stepped into a similar opportunity: I’m delighted to share that I’m now leading Intrinsic, a new Alphabet company,” she said.

The new outfit is another venture to emerge from Google-parent Alphabet’s X labs, along with Waymo, the self-driving car startup; and Verily, a biotech biz. ®

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!