Piazza, the premier platform bridging collaborative learning for universities and student talent for employers, announced that education technology leader Ethan O’Rafferty has been appointed CEO. Piazza founder Pooja Sankar will support O’Rafferty during the transition period and then will step away to focus her time on raising her growing children and dedicating more time teaching in local universities.
“We are thrilled to welcome Ethan to Piazza. As a seasoned edtech industry leader, he brings the perfect combination of expertise to usher Piazza into its next chapter of growth,” said Piazza Board Member Ethan Kurzweil of Bessemer Venture Partners. “We also want to thank Pooja for her incredible contributions to building Piazza, bringing her vision, passion and tireless efforts along with the team to create a powerful platform that has had a positive impact on the education experience for institutions, instructors and students around the world.”
“I feel so honored and proud to be a part of building this company over the past 12 years. It has been a labor of love created through my passion to help students like me, who struggled to connect and collaborate with classmates and professors,” said Pooja Sankar, founder of Piazza. “I am so thankful for the time I will get to spend with my kids and teaching entrepreneurship to students in local universities, all while knowing Piazza will be in incredible hands with Ethan, as he continues to lead the company into this next exciting chapter.”
O’Rafferty brings over a dozen years of experience as a senior executive, specializing in partnerships, business development, go-to-market and sales strategy, operations and product marketing. Most recently he held roles as President Partnerships at edtech vendor Amira Learning, and positions ranging from Executive VP to General Manager at leading edtech STEM/coding, instructional tools and analytics vendors. His experience leading high achieving, mission-driven teams, and extensive network developed building alliance and channel partnerships in both edtech and enterprise software will be an asset to both the university and employer focus of Piazza.
“Piazza has been impressive in establishing itself as an edtech leader, and I am humbled to be able to bring my experience and connections to help lead the company into its next chapter,” said O’Rafferty. “Companies with solutions spanning the collaborative learning, Higher Ed and talent workforce development segments of the edtech sector have been among the most successful in delivering value to students, professors, customers and shareholders. I look forward to building on the established university relationships and scaling future opportunities for student talent as well as leading employers to connect for career opportunities.”
Piazza has grown to help millions of students learn collaboratively, beyond the traditional classroom, at thousands of universities in 90 countries. This past year alone, Piazza Q&A has experienced dramatic growth in university enterprise licenses, a surge in student enrollments and an increase in student usage from three hours to five hours per night, deepening student engagement and collaboration.
In addition, Piazza workforce development solutions give employers unprecedented access to hire student talent, from targeted sourcing to recruiting event planning, resume drops and interview scheduling. Some of the most sought-after students in all fields of study, from the top 50 universities and thousands of others, make themselves accessible to employers via Piazza Talent Solutions. It has been particularly powerful for organizations with a commitment to diversity that are looking to hire women and underrepresented minorities in Computer Science and STEM fields.