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

January 19, 2021, 3:34 PM UTC

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 3,000 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. 

Correction, Jan. 20, 2021: A previous version of this story misstated the number of Multiverse apprentices.

VENTURE DEALS

- Deliveroo, a British food delivery company, raised $180 million valuing it at over $7 billion.  Durable Capital Partners and Fidelity Management & Research Company led the round.

- PPRO, a London-based payments infrastructure company, raised $180 million. Investors included Eurazeo Growth, Sprints Capital, and Wellington Management, valuing it at over $1 billion.

- K Health, a New York-based urgent and primary telehealthcare company, raised $132 million in Series E funding. The investors were GGV Capital’s Hans Tung, Valor Equity Partners’ Antonio Gracias, and Kaiser Permanente

- Personio, a Germany-based maker of a HR platform, raised $125 million in Series D funding at a $1.7 billion valuation. Index Ventures and Meritech led the round and were joined by Accel, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Northzone, Global Founders Capital, and Picus.

- Sequoia Capital and Lone Pine Capital agreed to invest about €50 million each of Auto1 Group, a German car trading platform, acquiring the stakes from investor DN Capital. The deal values the firm at about 6 billion euros ($7.2 billion), per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Bloom & Wild, a London-based online flower delivery startup, raised £75 million ($102 million) in Series D funding. General Catalyst led the round and was joined by investors including Index Ventures, Novator, Latitude Ventures, D4 Ventures, and Burda Principal Investments. Read more.

- Aledade, a Bethesda, Md.-based primary care startup, raised $100 million in Series D funding. Meritech Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Tiger Global Management, IVP, and OMERS Growth Equity.

- Jiliguala, a Shanghai-based English learning platform, raised nearly $100 million in Series C funding. Investors included Tencent and PE Trustbridge Partners. Read more.

- Maps.me, a offline maps company seeking to launch a cryptocurrency wallet,  raised $50 million. Alameda Research led the round and was joined by investors including Genesis Capital and CMS Holdings. Read more.

- Swimlane, a Denver, Colo.-based data security company, raised $40 million. EIP led the round.

- DeHaat, a New Dehli, India-based agrotech company, raised $30 million in Series C funding. Prosus Ventures led the round and was joined by RTP Global, Sequoia India, FMO, Omnivore, and AgFunder

- AgriWebb, an Australian agtech startup focused on livestock, raised $23 million (AU$30 million) in Series B funding valuing it at over $77 million (AU$100 million). TELUS led the round.

- Apricus Health, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based telehealth company, raised $20 million. Virgo Investment Group was the investors.

- StackPulse, a Portland, Ore.-based engineering software company, raised $20 million in Series A funding. GGV Capital led the round.

- Darwinbox, an Indian human resource management software maker, raised $15 million in Series C funding. Salesforce Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Lightspeed India and Sequoia Capital India. Read more.

- PharmaZen, a New Zealand-based biotech company that is also known as Waitaki Biosciences, raised $14 million. Investors include the Cibus Fund.

- Cumulus Digital Systems, a Massachusetts-based startup building software for industrial applications, raised $8 million. GEC led the round and was joined by investors including Brick & Mortar Ventures and Shell Ventures. 

- XP Health, a Palo Alto-based vision benefits platform, raised $5 million in seed funding. Valor Capital Group led the round.

- SILQ, a San Jose, Calif.-based on-site quality inspections for fashion brands, raised $2 million in pre-seed funding. RTP Global led the round and was joined by investors including SV Angel and Acceleprise.

- Volopay, a Singapore-based maker of a revenue monitoring platform, raised $2.1 million in seed funding. Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen led the round and was joined by investors including Soma Capital, CP Ventures, Y Combinator, VentureSouq, and the founders of Razorpay. Read more.

- Slate Bio, a Charlottesville, Va.-based biotech company focused on autoimmune diseases, raised $1.8 million. Epidarex Capital led the round.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- EQT invested in $1.2 billion in Sitecore, a San Francisco-based marketing software company. 

- Altamont Capital Partners invested in Kinetic Advantage, a newly formed floorplan financing company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- BC Partners, EQT and Arctos Sports Partners are in talks to acquire a stake in Inter Milan, an Italian soccer club, valuing it at as much as €900 million (about $1.1 billion), per the Financial Times. Read more.

- BV Investment Partners invested in PixelMEDIA, an e-commerce company focused on launches via Salesforce. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- CPPIB is in talks to acquire a stake in Igua Saneamento, a Brazilian sanitation company. Read more.

- CVC Capital Partners is in talks to acquire Birkenstock, a German sandal maker, in a deal that could value the latter at about $5 billion, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- H.I.G. Capital invested in Madrid Content City, a Madrid-based production studio. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Integrated Specialty Coverages, a portfolio company of Two Sigma's Sightway Capital, acquired California Contractors Insurance Service, a Sacramento, Calif.-based construction bond and insurance agency. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- LightBay Capital invested in Rancho Family Medical Group, a Temecula, Calif.-based provider of family medical services in Southern California. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Mercer Global Advisors, backed by Oak Hill Capital and Genstar Capital, acquired Pinnacle Wealth Solutions, a Midlothian, Va.-based wealth manager. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Odyssey Investment Partners acquired Applied Technical Services, a Marietta, Ga.-based provider of testing, inspection, and calibration services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Redwire, backed by AE Industrial Partners, acquired Oakman Aerospace, a Littleton, Colo.-based, provider of digital engineering, spacecraft and satellite design and development, mission payload development, and data distribution services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EXITS

- Citrix Systems (NYSE: CTRX) is in “advanced talks” to acquire Wrike, a San Jose, Calif.-based project management software maker, for over $2 billion, per Bloomberg. Vista Equity Partners backs Wrike. Read more.

- Medium acquired Glose, a Paris-based digital book company. Glose was backed by Kima Ventures and Expon Capital.

OTHER

- Alimentation Couche-Tard dropped its 16.2 billion euro ($19.6 billion) bid to acquire Carrefour, a French grocery chain, amid opposition from the French government, per Reuters. Read more.

- Total will pay $2.5 billion to acquire a 20% stake in Adani Green Energy Limited, an Indian energy company, and a 50% stake in its solar assets. Read more.

- Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO) acquired Henogen, a Belgium-based gene therapy manufacturing company, for €725 million ($879.72 million). 

- Tencent Music Entertainment (NYSE: TME) acquired Lazy Audio, a Chinese audiobook platform owned by Shenzhen Lanren Online Technology Co, for 2.7 billion yuan ($417 million).

- Fiat Chrysler and PSA completed their merger to create Stellantis, the world’s fourth-largest auto group. Read more.

- Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) is weighing acquisitions to bulk up its consumer banking unit Marcus, per Reuters. Read more.

IPOs

- RLX Technology, aChinese e-cigarette maker, is seeking to raise $1.2 billion in an IPO of 116.5 million ADSs priced between $8 to $10 apiece. Sequoia Capital China backs the firm. Read more.

- Vor Biopharma, a Cambridge, Mass.-based company focused on hematological diseases, filed to raise $150 million. RA Capital, 5AM Ventures, and Puretech Health back the firm. Read more.

- WeTrade Group, a Chinese e-commerce services company, filed to raise $121 million. Read more.

- Apria, a Indianapolis-based maker of healthcare equipment, filed to raise $100 million. Blackstone backs the firm. Read more.

- PurposeBuilt Brands, a Gurnee, Ill.-based provider of specialty cleaning and disinfecting products, filed to raise $100 million. Carlyle and TA Associates back the firm. Read more.

- LumiraDx, a London-based provider of tests including ones for COVID, filed to raise $100 million. Morningside backs the firm. Read more.

- Grab, a Southeast Asian ride-hailing company, is weighing an IPO in the U.S. this year, per Reuters. Read more.

- Huuuge Inc., a mobile games developer, plans to raise $150 million as part of its IPO in Warsaw. Read more.

SPACS

- Intel Chairman Omar Ishrak is planning to raise $750 million to $1 billion via a SPAC that targets the technology sector, per Bloomberg. Read more.

F+FS

- Roark Capital Group, an Atlanta-based private equity firm, is seeking $5 billion for its sixth flagship fund, per the Wall Street Journal citing sources. Read more.

PEOPLE

- SoftBank Vision Fund’s Jeffrey Housenbold is leaving the company in July. He is a managing partner. Read more.