The cover of the Wall Street Journal featured a story on Jack Welch and his involvement with a new online business school. Its clear to me that Welch is trying to cash in on one the few areas that have seen successful IPOS over the past few years — he has invested with an entrepreneur who was able to take online Golden Gate University public during the darkest days of the financial crisis. My favorite part of the story is the last line where Welch says, “I think its a real education.” What he doesn’t say is, “I think this is a great investment for me.””
My gripe here is not that Welch is trying to make money and partnering with successful educational entrepreneurs — its that the media is fascinated with him. I don’t get it? Am I alone? Am I the only one who doesn’t care about his management books and his ability to ‘manage’ quarterly earnings while running GE?
Its one of the reasons I have switched off CNBC and paid more attention to Bloomberg. Between Welch and Buffet, CNBC anchors are always up some old dude’s backside. Bully for writer Paul Glader, but why is this story on the front cover of the WSJ?
From the WSJ cover-story by Paul Glader:
Mr. Welch is paying more than $2 million for a 12% stake in Chancellor University System LLC, which is converting formerly bankrupt Myers University in Cleveland into Chancellor University. It plans to offer most courses online. Chancellor will name its Master of Business Administration program The Jack Welch Institute.
Chancellor’s leading investor is Michael Clifford, an entrepreneur who has launched two publicly traded companies in the past year: Grand Canyon Education Inc., which operates Grand Canyon University, and Bridgepoint Education Inc., which operates Ashford University and University of the Rockies.
Investor groups led by Mr. Clifford bought those three institutions out of troubled situations and converted them to primarily online universities.
Mr. Welch’s name may help add allure to for-profit, online education, which is growing rapidly despite nagging questions about quality.
A couple side notes — I believe Trump has some kind of online university. Also, according to a recent study out of East Carolina University (a bricks and mortar school) drop out rates among online students is dramatically higher than traditional students.
In fact, when it came to online business degrees — 43% dropped out vs. 11% in ‘real world’ programs. The sample is limited, but its worth looking into further. To Mr. Welch and wife: Any thoughts? Are you concerned that your Institute may see lots of drop outs? Or is this a more financial engineering to get an exit with an IPO? You can tell me, this is just a little blog — few people read this.