Multiverse, an education startup formerly known as White Hat, has raised $ 44 million in Series B funding as it enters the U.S. market and seeks to hire some 200 new employees.
Co-founded by Euan Blair, son of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the startup seeks to act as an alternative to the typical four-year college by matching potential employees directly with companies for on-the-job training.
According to Euan Blair, the startup, founded in 2016, now has around 300,000 apprentices who have been placed in companies whose Unilever, Facebook, and Morgan stanley. About 90% of those placed in one of Multiverse’s 18-month apprenticeship emerge on the other side with a job, he told Term Sheet, warning that data is still scarce.
The four-year degree came under scrutiny amid booming university debt. An explosion in technology has led to a shortage of technological talent but unemployment in more traditional industries. Some companies, including Airbnb, Facebook and Google have taken the disconnect on themselves by opening positions that do not require University diploma. In the UK, Multiverse has also benefited from a tax that effectively forces large organizations to fund apprenticeship. In the startup model, it is the employer who foots the bill rather than the potential employee.
Supporters of the college model will note that a major advantage of universities comes in the form of networking. Multiverse is also looking to replicate that to some extent, with social gatherings, sports teams, and a speaker series, says Blair of the company co-founded with Sophie Adelman.
While Multiverse tries to serve those without a college degree and those looking to start a new career via requalification, Blair has had a solid post-graduate education, at least on paper. He completed his undergraduate degree in Ancient History at the University of Bristol before moving to Yale for his Masters in International Relations.
When asked about his own experiences, Blair notes that graduation did not prepare him for his debut in banking. It helped shape Multiverse and a focus on learning.
“My diplomas were not at all useful for the job, but I had to find them to find a job,” says the 37-year-old. “The college is an oligopoly that does not benefit those who pay for the programs.”
Although the company declined to reveal its valuation, the Financial Times reports that this figure is around $ 200 million. General Catalyst led the round and was joined by investors including GV, Microsoft Chairman John W. Thompson, Index Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
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