An edtech startup founded by the son of Tony Blair gets $44 million

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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 looks to hire some 200 new employees. 

Co-founded by Euan Blair, son of former U.K. 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, has about 300,000 apprentices today who have been placed in companies including Unilever, Facebook, and Morgan Stanley. About 90% of those who are placed into one of Multiverse’s 18-month-long apprenticeships emerge from the other side with a job, he told Term Sheet, cautioning that the data is still sparse.

The four-year-degree has come under scrutiny amid ballooning college debt. An explosion in technology meanwhile has led to a shortage of tech talent but unemployment in more traditional industries. Some companies including Airbnb, Facebook, and Google have taken the disconnect upon themselves by opening positions that don’t require a university degree. In the U.K., Multiverse has also benefited from a tax that effectively forces large organizations to fund apprenticeships. Under the startup’s model, it is the employer that foots the bill rather than the potential employee.

Proponents of the college model will note that a major benefit of universities comes in the form of networking. Multiverse too seeks to replicate that to an extent, with social meetups, sports teams, and a speaker series, says Blair of the company co-founded with Sophie Adelman.

While Multiverse is trying to serve those who don’t have a college degree and those who are looking to start a new career altogether via reskilling, Blair has had a robust higher education, at least on paper. He completed his undergraduate degree in ancient history at Bristol University before moving on to Yale for his master’s degree in international relations. 

When asked about his own experiences, Blair notes the degrees did not prepare him for his early career in banking. That helped shape Multiverse and his focus on apprenticeships.

“My degrees were not useful at all for work, but I was required to get them to get a job,” says the 37 year old. “The college is an oligopoly that is not beneficial to those paying the programs.”

While the company declined to reveal its valuation, the Financial Times reports that the number is about $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.

BUMBLE’S IPO: Dating app operator Bumble filed for an IPO Friday, making it one of the few IPOs in recent years of a company helmed by a woman. Set to debut around Valentine’s Day, Bumble’s road to a public market debut has not been an easy one. In 2018, online dating competitor Match sued Bumble over its swipe feature, alleging it was stolen intellectual property, and Bumble hit back. The duo settled the litigation in June. 

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