Multiverse, an edtech startup founded by Euan Blair — the son of former British prime minister Tony Blair — has raised a $220m Series D round. The raise brings the company a $1.7bn valuation, making it Europe’s latest edtech unicorn.

According to Companies House filings, Euan Blair owned 25% of Multiverse as of March 2022. Founders often must sell some of their stake in funding rounds, but even so, the new valuation would make him worth at least several hundred million — much higher than the fortune of his politician father (estimated to be £45m).

What does Multiverse do?

Multiverse connects companies with young people looking for apprenticeships. The apprenticeships are tuition-free and salaried, last 12-15 months and are in areas including software engineering, digital marketing and data analytics. Alongside the apprenticeship, people receive training from Multiverse.

“Mandating college degrees, and making admissions officers the gatekeepers for great careers, means leaving out thousands of talented individuals,” says Blair.  

Multiverse says it has run 8,000 apprenticeships globally, and that 90% of apprentices remain with their employer after the programme has ended.

For context, in the UK, there were 719k apprenticeships run in the 2019 to 2020 school year.

Who’s investing in Multiverse?

The round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and General Catalyst, both previous backers of Multiverse, alongside Stepstone Group. 

Founders Circle Capital, Audacious Ventures, BOND, D1 Capital Partners, GV and Index Ventures also participated in the round.

What’s the market like?

  • In the UK, companies can run their own apprenticeships by applying through the government’s apprenticeship programme. That can mean a lot of paperwork and organisation for companies; edtech startups can help streamline the process for employers. 
  • Outside of the UK, Multiverse is only active in the US. Multiverse hasn’t expanded into the rest of Europe, perhaps because higher education tends to be cheaper across the rest of the continent, perhaps meaning there’s less need for edtechs offering more inclusive alternatives. It’s also the case that some European countries, and in particular Germany, already have further-reaching state apprenticeship models.

What’s next for Multiverse?

Multiverse will use the new funding to expand its presence in the US, where it launched in January 2021. It works with Cisco, Google, Verizon and Box in America.

The cost of university education in the US makes it a ripe opportunity for Multiverse. There, the company says, two thirds of people don’t have a college degree but 65% of jobs require them to — it’s hoping apprenticeships can solve that gap.

Sifted’s take

Multiverse was founded in 2016, but has grown particularly fast in the last eight months, doubling its valuation across that time. 

It’s a sign that European edtech is finally being taken more seriously by investors. The sector had lagged behind the US, only securing its first unicorn in June 2020. It’s now got three: GoStudent, Kahoot! and Multiverse. 

Multiverse’s raise also shows how the need for more tech talent is pushing innovation in education. Multiverse focuses on digital careers, helping more young people get into the tech workforce.

It will also be interesting to see how Multiverse fares in the US. University tuitions and student debt have skyrocketed in recent years in the world’s largest economy, but apprenticeships remain much less popular than in other developed countries, especially outside of a limited number of professions. 

Freya Pratty is a reporter at Sifted. She tweets from @FPratty and writes our sustainability-focused newsletter you can sign up here

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