Euan Blair, the son of a former British prime minister, has become one of the wealthiest start-up founders in the UK after his education technology company was valued at $1.7bn following its latest fundraising.
Multiverse, which trains and finds placements for apprentices in the US and UK, has raised $220mn in additional funding, doubling its valuation from eight months ago.
Blair owns 25 to 50 per cent of the business, according to filings in Companies House, which would value his stake at between $425mn and $850mn.
He founded Multiverse in 2016, when he shared an office with the first few apprentices doing their assessments. The start-up began by leaving business cards with companies within walking distance but has grown rapidly since then, with the number of apprentices reaching more than 8,000.
Multiverse said revenues had grown nine-fold in two years, although declined to give numbers.
In a post on LinkedIn, Blair said that completing a funding round now “was not something we set out to do”.
He added: “We raised record-breaking sums twice in 2021. Ultimately, I’m a firm believer in raising well before you think you might need it. Building an outstanding alternative to university is not a small endeavour.”
His father, Sir Tony Blair, was a strong advocate of university degrees when he was prime minister, setting a target that half of school leavers should go to university.
The Multiverse funding round was led by existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and General Catalyst, alongside new investors, StepStone Group and Founders Circle Capital. Other existing investors also participated including BOND, D1 Capital Partners, GV, Index Ventures and Audacious Ventures.
Blair said the new money would be used for continued expansion in the US and UK. Multiverse could offer services to 100,000 apprentices each year, he said. The company employs more than 600 people, with the majority in the UK.
The group provides assessment and placing of apprentices, alongside personalised coaching, and access to people either in their first careers or moving into digital, tech and data jobs at different stages of their lives.
It has trained professional apprentices with more than 500 organisations globally, including Cisco, Verizon, Visa and Box in the US. Of the apprentices Multiverse has placed globally, 56 per cent are people of colour, more than half are women and 34 per cent come from economically underserved communities.
“One of the things that’s so broken about the current system is it tries to pretend a three or four-year undergraduate degree is enough to see you through a multi-decade career,” said Blair.
“We won’t make the same mistake with apprenticeships. Our vision is for a system in which people can return to apprenticeships whenever they need to, to level-up their career.”
Youngme Moon — a professor at the Harvard Business School and a director for companies such as Unilever and Mastercard — has been appointed to the company’s board.
“It will involve a huge investment in tech,” said Blair. “When you think about some of the big challenges facing societies right now — declining higher education enrolment, rising student debt, inertia around racial equity, opportunity spread less evenly than talent, the great resignation and global skills shortages — none of the existing solutions have been sufficient.”