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Multiverse, the tech-focused apprenticeship startup, nabs $130M at an $875M valuation

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After rebranding from White Hat and raising $44 million earlier this year, tech apprenticeship startup Multiverse has raised another round of funding. The company today announced that it has closed $130 million in a Series C round.

The funding had been rumored in recent weeks while the round was being closed. D1 Capital Partners and BOND led this latest investment; Multiverse is not disclosing if there are other investors in the round. Those that have previously backed the company include General Catalyst (which led the startup's last round), GV (formerly known as Google Ventures), Audacious Ventures, Latitude, SemperVirens, Index Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. D1 is Daniel Sundheim's firm, while BOND is the firm co-founded by Mary Meeker, two longtime figures in the worlds of investment banking and investing in general.

The company has confirmed that its new valuation is $875 million. As a point of reference, PitchBook estimated at the time of its last round that the valuation was just under $164 million, while the FT put it at $200 million in the same period (Multiverse never confirmed those numbers, though.) The implication in any event is that it's higher in multiples because the company has been expanding: Multiverse says that it has grown four-fold in the last year, and now has worked with some 5,000 people, counting both current apprentices and alumni.

Multiverse's previous round was raised to help the London-founded startup -- the head of the company is the well-connected Euan Blair, son of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and barrister Cherie Booth Blair -- expand into the U.S. market. Perhaps given the huge hiccup that is the global COVID-19 health pandemic, that office in the end only opened last month, in New York.

The new funding is going to be used to continue that expansion, both in its home market and the U.S.

Its customer list numbers about 300 -- I'll point out that this is the same number it quoted when I covered the last funding round in January -- with Google, Generation USA, Mixpanel and Adyen among its newer clients, with Facebook, Morgan Stanley and the NHS among its older base.

Apprenticeships on the platform currently range from roles in data science and adtech ("programmatic pioneer" is one) through to administrative and operational roles and they cover placements in tech companies, finance organizations and more, and are both on-site and remote. Prices charged to companies vary “but are broadly around the $15,000 mark," I was told by Blair earlier this year. (And to be clear, the individuals applying don’t pay anything, and they will also be paid by the companies providing the apprenticeships.)

The job market has changed drastically in the last 18 months, not least because of economic contractions, the changing nature of consumer habits and the changing face of work in the face of a global public health crisis.

These have all caused massive reverberations. How people look for work, how they set themselves up for jobs that they want or even how they think about jobs -- all of these have been impacted -- and the same, of course, goes for employers.

Tech jobs are a particularly interesting area because many of them by their nature can be engaged with remotely, using the very digital tools that tech workers are building or helping maintain.

All of this has presented an interesting window of opportunity for Multiverse specifically, and more generally the concept of an apprentice, which sits somewhere between a more standard recent graduate/less experienced jobseeker and someone who might still be studying and looking at internships to gain more experience.

“We want to build an outstanding alternative to university and college,” Blair told me earlier this year. Even the name speaks to how the people it targets do not typically fit into the traditional categories of candidates. There are “multiple universes” one can inhabit as a post-18 young adult, Blair said, hence the "Multiverse" name (which has nothing to do with "metaverse" in case you are wondering). Apprenticeships typically last 1.5 years.

But as the world of startups has demonstrated many times, windows of opportunity can indeed be lucrative, but sometimes they can also be very challenging to open -- and this is likely one reason Multiverse has raised this big round so soon after its last one. (Another could be competition. LinkedIn, as one example, also has been rethinking and repositioning itself in the wider worlds of professional development and job-hunting. Apprenticeships sound like a very obvious area for it to build something.)

In the meantime, investors seem to think that being smaller and very focused will be to Multiverse's, and jobseekers', advantage.

"We believe Multiverse is expanding access to wage-growth and social mobility for employees from a broad range of backgrounds while creating substantial value for employers," said Jeremy Goldstein of D1 Capital Partners, in a statement. "We are excited to invest and help Multiverse scale its model globally."

The startup also has been trying to leverage its place in tapping people who might not fit into more traditional job channels, to bring more diversity into the wider talent pool, which has found a willing audience among organizations looking to bring more diversity and inclusiveness into their own ranks.

It claims that among the apprentices that it places into roles, 53% are people of color, while 36% are from economically disadvantaged communities.

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