Ryan Carson and the Complete History of Treehouse

I founded Treehouse in 2011 and was the CEO until it was acquired in 2021. Here's a complete history of what happened at Treehouse.

2010: Think Vitamin Membership Launched

  • Treehouse was originally named "Think Vitamin Membership"
  • Founded in the UK by Ryan Carson and Gillian Carson
  • Think Vitamin Membership offered online training videos to learn web design and web development
  • Ruby on Rails app was built by contractor Joel Moss and designed by Carsonified employee Mike Kus
  • Bootstrapped with cashflow from Carsonified + small business loan
  • Hired the first two teachers, Nick Pettit as a Web Design Teacher and Jim Hoskins as a Web Development Teacher
  • Opened small office in Orlando, FL for filming and editing
  • Membership pricing: Diamond $99/mo, Gold: $49/mo and Silver: $25/mo

2011: Think Vitamin Membership Re-branded to Treehouse

  • Relaunched as Treehouse at teamtreehouse.com
  • Raised $600k from angel investors: Kevin Rose, Reid Hoffman, David Sze, Josh Elman, Chamath Palihapitya and Mark Suster
  • Hired Alan Johnson as lead developer and scaled team
  • Alan Johnson was promoted to title Co-Founder

2012: Treehouse Raised Series-A Round and Moved to Portland Oregon, USA

  • Treehouse raised $4.75m from Social+Capital and Greylock Discovery Fund
  • Ryan and Gillian Carson moved to Portland Oregon and opened new office
  • Team was scaled to 34 full-time people

2013: Treehouse Raised Series-B Round

2014 - 2015: Treehouse Scaled Team and Moved to New HQ

2016: Treehouse Revenue Began to Decline

  • Revenue growth slowed
  • Ryan Carson and Board of Directors decided to end the 4-day week policy to attempt to create more content and increase revenue
  • Team reduced by 35%

2017 - 2018: Treehouse Launched B2B Business to Battle Revenue Decline

  • Revenue continued to decline
  • Launched B2B business to try to increase revenue

2019: Treehouse Reduced Team Size to Lengthen Runway

  • Layoff was actioned to control costs and give the company more runway
  • Apprenticeship program "TalentPath" was launched


  • TalentPath was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Revenue continued to decline


  • Acquisition by large EdTech company did not complete
  • Ryan Carson moved his family to Connecticut after Pandemic
  • Board made difficult decision to reduce team from 45 to 18 people, retaining 10 full-time employees and eight contractors
  • After layoff, Treehouse received unsolicited offer to be acquired by Xenon Partners
  • Sale of company was completed in Dec 2021

Videos about Ryan Carson and Treehouse

Jason Calacanis interviewing Ryan Carson from Treehouse

Kevin Rose interviews Ryan Carson, CEO of Treehouse

The Case for the 32-Hour Workweek with Treehouse Founder Ryan Carson

The Case for the 32-hour Workweek: Atlantic

Since 2006, Ryan Carson, the CEO of Treehouse, has maintained a four-day workweek for his employees. “There’s no rule that you have to work 40 hours, you have to work more to be successful,” says Carson. “We’ve proven that you can take it from an experiment into something that’s doable for real companies and real people in highly competitive markets.” Citing the benefits of a more flexible schedule, Carson believes that the reduced time in the office ultimately leads to an overall more productive work environment. But for Carson, his decision ultimately comes down to priorities. “It’s not about more family time, or more play time, or less work time—it’s about living a more balanced total life,” says Carson. “We basically take ridiculously good care of people because we think it’s the right thing to do.”

TalenPath Apprenticeship Program by Treehouse

Ryan Carson explains 'Who Does What in the Tech industry'

Interview with Chamath Palihapitiya, investor in Treehouse

Chamath Palihapitiya is the founder of Social Capital, a purpose-driven venture capital firm that invests primarily in healthcare, education, and financial services. (Social Capital was a Treehouse investor.) In this interview from 2013, Pasan Premaratne talks to Chamath about the reasons behind his investment choices and some of the challenges facing entrepreneurs.

Articles about Ryan Carson and Treehouse

Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson Builds a 21st-century Trade School

Oregon Business article about Ryan Carson, CEO of Treehouse

Ryan Carson, CEO of Treehouse, voted Entrepreneur of the Year

In 2015, I was voted Entrepreneur of the Year by EY.

Treehouse Student Success Stories


Joe had always thought you needed to fit a certain stereotype to be a developer. When he realized there was an opportunity for him to learn to code and make a difference as a developer, he took the risk and switched careers. Since learning with Treehouse, Joe has embraced a rewarding career as a developer.


In less than 10 months of using Treehouse, Bryan landed his first full time professional programming job and got a huge increase in salary!


Kavitha was out of the workforce for 12 years and then one day decided to learn to code and 4 months later she had her first app in the Apple App Store.

Lessons Learned and Moving Forward

I launched Treehouse because I deeply believed in democratizing access to computer science education so people could change their lives. I'm grateful to have led the company to teach over 1,000,000 students in 10 years.

As time progressed, I learned hard lessons about the importance of focusing on profitability and maintaining strategic clarity. I changed the company's priorities too many times, and I take full responsibility for the outcome.

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey with Treehouse, I gained invaluable insights that have shaped me as a leader and innovator. I learned the critical importance of balancing bold vision with pragmatic execution and adapting quickly to changing market conditions. Cash flow management and profitability are key to building a resilient organization.

Most importantly, I learned that trust is the foundation of any successful venture—trust with investors, employees, and customers. I am committed to applying these lessons with humility, transparency, and a steadfast dedication to creating value for all stakeholders.

As I move forward in my career, I am excited to leverage my experience and hard-won insights to build organizations that make a lasting, positive impact. I am dedicated to continuous learning and improvement, always striving to earn the trust of those I serve.