MasterClass raises $80m to bring more big celebs to their platform
MasterClass, the celebrity-taught online learning program (like how to be funny with heart like Judd Apatow, or how to dribble a ball with Steph Curry) has raised $80m to expand the platform internationally.
According to VentureBeat, the Series-D round moves the SF-based startup past the $130m fundraising mark, and will also be used to bring more celebrities into the classroom.
The company currently offers 39 celebrity-taught classes, with plans to exceed 50 by the end of 2018.
They must be backing up the money truck to these ‘experts’
In the last year, MasterClass has added an all-star cast of administration, including a writing class with Margaret Atwood, a filmmaking class with Spike Lee, and a tennis class with Professor Serena Williams.
Yesterday, CEO and co-founder David Rogier told TechCrunch he hopes to one day bring on Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, and J.K. Rowling (who will teach you how to write a best selling book franchise about a boy-wizard via cocktail napkins?) to the platform.
When it was first released to the public in 2015, MasterClass seemed to promise an unlikely product (celebrities ain't got time to make lesson plans). Yet sales have more than doubled from 2016 to 2017, and could do the same in 2018.
A seat at the big boy edtech table
Without releasing hard financials, Rogier compared the company’s revenue to edtech heavyweights Udacity, who increased revenue by $41m from 2016 to 2017, and Coursera, who’s reportedly “within striking distance of $100m in annual revenue.”
In other words, if MasterClass is being compared to these guys, they’re doing pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty good (Larry David would be a terrible teacher).
Giving a ‘masterclass’ on corporate growth
The company, who raised $54m in VC funding last year, recently rolled out a highly successful new subscription model, allowing customers to pay a $180 annual fee to gain all-access MasterClass wisdom, that accounts for 80% of the company’s revenue (otherwise it’s $90 each).
On top of that, MasterClass released its first-ever mobile app this April and hopes to move beyond arts by soon adding a “business” category.
3 words: Keanu Reeves MasterClass
Sick of jacked-up pharma prices, 500 hospitals join to make their own drugs
A group of major American hospitals banded together to form a not-for-profit generic drug company called Civica Rx to reduce dependence on inconsistent drug prices.
The creation of the mission-driven enterprise, which has already secured more than $100m in preliminary funding, highlights the urgent need for reform in the drug business.
The drug-pricing system makes hospitals sick
Arbitrage between drugmakers, pharmacy benefit managers, and doctors leads to price spikes and shortages of common, lifesaving medicines.
Price changes force hospitals to pay premiums of as much as 50% for common drugs, diverting lifesaving resources toward tracking drug supplies and predicting what the f*ck drugmakers will do next.
So to create a more consistent supply, a consortium of 7 massive health systems encompassing more than 500 hospitals formed a “first-of-its-kind societal asset to make essential generic medicines affordable and available to everyone” with a $100m initial investment.
Taking matters into their own medicine cabinets
Civica Rx has already attracted interest from more than 120 health organizations (⅓ of the country’s hospitals) and tapped Martin VanTrieste, former head of biotech giant Amgen, to serve as pro-bono CEO.
By stripping away the pressures of shareholders and middlemen, Civica plans to produce a stable supply of 14 commonly overpriced drugs and distribute them at consistent prices to the hospitals in its network. The company hopes to bring its first drugs to the market next year.
The Wall Street behemoth has been considering the launch of a cryptocurrency option for clients over the past year. But according to CNBC, its plan for the initiative has never been very clear.
What Chavez did make clear is that while a timeline for the venture has never been established, Goldman has been approving bitcoin-linked futures contracts since May and providing clients liquidity with those futures.
Crypto wariness strikes again!
As for physical bitcoin, Chavez explained that the company is not quite in the position to get in the game — mainly due to factors out of the institution’s control.
Issues with bitcoin’s volatility, security, and asset storage have all been regulatory moats for institutional investors, especially as bitcoin continues to struggle to reach its near-$20k high back in December.
The value of the entire crypto market has since dropped by more than 65%: As of Thursday, Bitcoin was trading at $6.4k “Satoshi tears.”
In the spirit of everyone’s favorite ’90s MP3 player, here are some short, low-fi news bites to keep you in the groove.
Scooter wars: Lyft and Taxify join the fray
After taking a regulatory rest, the scooter wars resumed yesterday with 2 new contenders. Lyft launched a pilot in Denver, rolling out a small number of scooters and promising to play nice with officials. Meanwhile, Estonian ride-sharing rival Taxify debuted a scooter-share in Paris.
Luxury retailers cooling off: Burberry is not feeling the burn
Retailers have begun to take heat for destroying luxury leftovers. After the amount of stock torched by British fashion brand Burberry increased from $6.5m in 2013 to $39m this year, the brand decided to stop the practice of burning excess inventory. Should we clap?
Home fitness gets smart (and pricy): ‘Mirror’ hits the market
Yesterday, a startup called Mirror launched a product that streams fitness courses right into your bedroom via “smart mirror.”
With a $1,495 price tag, Mirror joins other fitness-tech startups (the $2k Peloton, the $2,995 Tonal) on a quest to charge high-earning fitness buffs big bucks in their own home.
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