Hedge-Fund-Analyst-Turned-Tutor Teachers Science Via YouTube

Dec 29 2009 | 9:43am ET

It’s hardly as lucrative as his old gig, but one former hedge fund analyst has built something of an online tutoring empire.

Salman Khan’s efforts, profiled by National Public Radio this week, has so far produced more than 1,000 YouTube videos teaching students about all manner of things, from math to chemistry to biology, as well as something a little close to home for a former hedgie: the Federal Reserve Bank.

“I read [the Federal Reserve Act] about 10 times just to understand all the levers that the Federal Reserve chairman could pull,” Khan told NPR. “And I said, ‘Well, what’s a better use of my time that whatever I just learned? Let me make a series of YouTube videos on fractional reserve banking and the Federal Reserve.”

Some might argue that working for a hedge fund is a better use of Khan’s time: The Khan Academy Channel, a non-profit group, so far brings in about $3,000 a month in advertising and $1,500 a month in donations. The rest of its operating budget comes out of Khan’s pocket.

“My wife has given me a year to make it self-sustaining, though I think she’ll give me a little more leeway than that,” the Boston-based Khan said.

The project certainly began modestly: Khan was simply trying to help out his cousin Nadia in New Orleans, who was have trouble with pre-algebra. Today, Khan says viewership is growing at between 15% and 20% per month.

“I’m reasonably confident that in about a year, the site itself could pay my rent and put food on the table,” Khan said.

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