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MasterClass, Purveyor of Celebrity Online Courses, Raises $35 Million Led by IVP

Variety logo Variety 3/28/2017 Todd Spangler
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MasterClass, which sells internet-video courses led by celebs including Kevin Spacey, Christina Aguilera and Gordon Ramsay, has closed $35 million in financing led by IVP.

The Series C round brings the San Francisco-based startup’s total funding to $56.4 million. The latest funding included participation from new investors GSV Acceleration and Sam Lessin as well as existing investors New Enterprise Associates, Javelin Venture Partners, Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Beta, Advancit Capital, Novel TMT, MX Investments, and Yan-David Erlich.

MasterClass plans to use the funding to increase hiring and add more courses from celebrities and other professionals, said CEO and co-founder David Rogier. Currently at about 50 employees, the company plans to more than double headcount by the end of 2017. MasterClass also is aiming to double the number of courses this year, from 16 today (12 launched so far and four more in the works).

The current MasterClass roster of courses — which cost $90 apiece — include those from Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman (acting), Werner Herzog (filmmaking), Aaron Sorkin (screenwriting), Hans Zimmer (film scoring), Gordon Ramsay (cooking), James Patterson (writing), Christina Aguilera (singing), Usher (performance), Reba McEntire (country music), Serena Williams (tennis) and deadmau5 (electronic-dance music).

In addition, the company has classes in development from Shonda Rhimes on writing for television, Steve Martin on comedy, Frank Gehry on design and architecture, and Annie Leibovitz on photography.

“It’s grown way beyond our expectations,” Rogier said. He declined to disclose how many students have taken MasterClass courses, nor would he provide details of the startup’s financials.

With the funding, IVP general partner Eric Liaw and VP Roseanne Wincek are joining MasterClass’s board, alongside existing board members Rick Yang of NEA and Alex Gurevich of Javelin Venture Partners. Past investments by IVP, which focuses on later-stage growth companies, have included Netflix, Twitter, Snap and Dropbox.

“We are honored to lead the Series C round at MasterClass,” IVP’s Liaw said in a statement. “From Serena Williams teaching tennis to Gordon Ramsay teaching cooking to Kevin Spacey teaching acting and soon Shonda Rhimes teaching television writing, they are delivering on their mission to make the knowledge of the world’s great masters available to everyone, and it’s exciting to partner with them.”

Rogier worked for several venture-backed startups before founding MasterClass with CTO and creative director Aaron Rasmussen, who had co-founded a robotics company after graduating from Boston University and then worked on manufacturing and gaming projects. The duo formed the company in 2012 as Yanka Industries.

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