San Francisco-based MasterClass is an online education platform where students can learn from tutorials and lectures from experts and celebrities across a wide variety of skills. For example, Serena Williams covers tennis lessons, Malcolm Gladwell covers writing lessons, Gordon Ramsay covers cooking lessons, Judd Apatow covers comedy lessons, and Annie Leibovitz covers photography lessons.
Earlier this week, MasterClass announced it raised $80 million in Series D funding led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP). Atomico, NEA, Javelin Ventures, Advancit Capital, and Evolution Media also participated in this round.
“Educational systems, both online and off, have largely avoided recruiting those who have reached the top of their fields to be teachers because they didn’t think it could be done, and if it could, it wouldn’t be done well,” said MasterClass co-founder and CEO David Rogier in a statement. “It’s a loss for humanity to miss out on learning from the masters among us. Early online education platforms tried to copy the physical classroom. That does not work. People who are out in the world perfecting their craft can’t teach in the traditional system. The problem isn’t the people, it’s the system — so we are changing the system.”
With this round of funding, MasterClass plans to expand internationally and hire more celebrities. As of right now, MasterClass has 39 classes and the company is planning to surpass 50 by the end of this year. In an interview with TechCrunch, Rogier said that the company wants to bring on more well-known entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, and J.K. Rowling on their platform sometime in the future.
Sales have more than doubled from 2016 to 2017 and MasterClass is expected to hit the same rate this year. Rogier hinted that these figures nearly matches Udacity’s revenue, which reportedly hit $70 million last year.
“Most online education companies take the model of offline education, which was created to increase scale, and put it on the internet, which already has scale. MasterClass has gone back to the first principles of education: a master passing a lifetime of work, learning, and accomplishment to a student.” added IVP’s Roseanne Wincek. “By providing access to the very best in their field, MasterClass allows anyone to learn from a lifetime of first-hand knowledge and mastery. We continue to be impressed by the team’s vision and drive, the company’s execution, and the impact MasterClass has on its student’s lives. We have such high conviction about this company and its mission, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to double down on MasterClass.”
MasterClass also launched a subscription model recently where users can pay an annual fee of $180, which gives access to all of the lessons. This is a great deal because some of the individual classes are $90 each. MasterClass also released a mobile app in April so that users can access the lessons while on-to-go.