The Muse founders- Kathryn Minshew and Alex Cavoulacos
Photograph: Erica Gannett © Erica Gannett Photography
By Leena Rao
June 22, 2016

 

The Muse, a website that offers career advice to millennials, still has half of the $10 million it raised in its first major investment round last year, giving the company plenty of money in reserve. But as co-founder and CEO Kathryn Minshew explained, there was persistent interest in The Muse from venture capitalists over the past six months to invest more, and it was hard to say no to more cash.

On Wednesday, The Muse announced a new $16 million round of Series B financing led by Icon Ventures with participation from Aspect Ventures, DBL Partners, and QED Investors. This brings the company’s total funding to $28.7 million.

What Minshew didn’t mention is that in the current fundraising environment is tougher for startups, and when cash is available, startups are being advised to take it. According to a recent New York Times report, VC funding dropped 11% to $12.1 billion in the first quarter of 2016 from the previous year.

Investors are being more cautious in the current market, and demanding more than just user growth. Venture capitalists, who not long ago preached growth at any cost, now also want to see revenue.

The Muse appears to have both boxes checked, according to Minshew. Revenue grew five-fold in 2015 and is in the double digit millions, said Minshew, who declined to reveal exact sales numbers but said its in the tens of millions. Revenue is expected to grow again this year, she added.

Most of the Muse’s revenue comes from companies paying the startup to advertise their jobs on the site. Currently 500 companies are customers including Facebook, Dropbox, Zappos, Slack, Goldman Sachs, HBO, Wells Fargo, The Gap, Target, KPMG, Conde Nast, Aflac and AT&T. Prices to post job listings vary depending on size of company, but are typically in the tens of thousands of dollars annually.

Launched in 2011 as a career advice and job hunting platform, the startup now has 50 million unique visitors annually. The Muse is more than just your average job listings site. The company also includes advice, information about employers, videos that teach skills, and career coaching services. Oh, and the company also counts supermodel Tyra Banks as an investors.

“We are building the most trusted and beloved place for people to navigate their career, access career advice, and highly personalized jobs, and work on skill development classes and coaching,” Minshew explained.

 

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The Muse, whose valuation was not disclosed, is also seeing growth in newly launched paid services such as as career coaching, which ranges from $99 to $479.

The job search market is competitive with lots of established companies including LinkedIn, Indeed, and Career Builder. There’s also no shortage of startups who are trying to appeal to younger generations as millennials build their careers.

Minshew feels that despite competition, The Muse is separating itself by providing more “contextual” information beyond just a simple job search. Services like skill-building videos, coaching, and more help keep millennials engaged not only when they are looking for a job, but also when they have a job and want to further their career within an organization.

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