Online learning continues to see a huge boost in attention and usage in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, and today a startup that creates tools specifically for companies to fulfill their internal educational missions is announcing a major round of funding that targets the startup’s own growth and ambitions.
go1, which provides curated online learning tools and materials for companies using “playlists” that tap into content from multiple publishers and silos, has closed a $200 million round, a series d that CEO and co-founder of the Australian company, Andrew Barnes confirmed that he values the start-up at more than a billion dollars.
Barnes added that the funding will be used to further expand into existing markets. Headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, Go1 has offices in London, the United States, Singapore and Malaysia, so it wants to delve into Europe more broadly and more of Asia Pacific, he said. go1 will also continue to expand its suite of services in the broader areas of development learning and training, she added.
today, it already offers a lot of analytics and AI technology to map out how well that content is being used and personalize materials further, so the idea will be to expand on that.
Softbank’s Vision Fund 2, Airtree Ventures, and Salesforce Ventures co-led this D-Series, with participation from Blue Cloud Ventures, Larsen Ventures, Madrona Venture Group, Microsoft’s M12, Seek, Ten13, and Tiger Global’s Scott Shleifer and John Curtius. (To be clear, there seem to have been reports of this Series D shutting down, but no details on value, investors, or company confirmation.)
The funding represents a significant injection of capital for the startup: prior to this, it had only raised about $80 million in the past six years, and the last round, a more modest $40 million series c, closed 14 years ago. months.
but it also comes hand in hand with impressive growth. Incubated at Y Combinator and headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, the company currently works with some 3.5 million users and more than 1,600 businesses worldwide, with companies including Microsoft, TikTok, the University of Oxford, Suzuki, Asahi and thrifty, as well as many small businesses, among its customers. On average, a person, when actively participating in go1, spends between two and six hours a month using the platform, and Barnes told me that their user base has grown more than 300% in the last year.
But in a tech world now full of options for online learning content, for both K-12 and business users, what’s perhaps more interesting is the startup’s approach.
Currently, go1 has about 150,000 pieces of content available in its library, but it hasn’t created any of it itself. The material comes from about 1,000 publishers and creators, a number that grows weekly, Barnes said, and includes not only the standard names in online education like Pearson, EdX, Coursera and Skillsoft, but also Blinkist and Harvard Business Review.
go1’s goal is to make it easy for companies to access and use all of these materials without having to negotiate separate agreements with different rights holders, or users having to negotiate multiple applications or sites to use them.
Somewhat akin to a streaming service like spotify, go1 acts not only as a distributor/aggregator for access to that content, but as a channel for those providers, who receive royalties based on how much their content is consumed. (And individual rights holders can also negotiate how some or all of their content is accessed, in case they have paywalls they don’t want to break down into specific areas.)
The Spotify analogy goes beyond the company’s business model: Barnes noted that it also calls its curated packages (which it creates itself or allows customers to create themselves) “playlists.”
“We started the business six years ago because no one else was doing this, but there was a great desire to bring that diversity of content together and make it readily available,” he said.
The challenge for employers is not only to navigate the user experience by juggling multiple sites (which go1 solves with these curated playlists), but also to create learning that is still cohesive and easy to manage, regardless of the department or employee doing the work. training.
“how can I create something for the wide diversity of skills in our workforce?” It’s how barnes described it to me. this is what the company addresses with the platform, he added, not only by making it easy to create training for different people, but also to help them find and suggest relevant content that interests those users by offering as wide a selection as possible. . “We help people find the needle in the haystack,” she said.
It seems that the analogy stops at how go1 interacts with the rest of the corporate learning marketplace.
I asked barnes if he saw companies as success factors as competitors, but really the spirit of go1 is to integrate into any education or training platform a company may already use, be it sap, workday, salesforce or microsoft-based platforms, or something else entirely.
borrowing another media comparison, barnes notes that he finds go1 occupies the “netflix” button on a remote: regardless of manufacturer or pay-tv provider, you still have a way to get your netflix fix; and so is go1’s hope in corporate learning and development training.
this also means that while the platforms aren’t rivals, other aggregators could be as well: that’s probably going to create an interesting relationship with microsoft, given that they have linkin, they have linkin learning, they also aggregate content from a wide range of editors.
It appears that while Microsoft has slowly built more integrations with LinkedIn over the years since it acquired it, this is an area where it has also been okay with working with one of its competitors.
“Our team worked closely with go1 on a Microsoft Teams integration to enable more companies to hold corporate training remotely,” Jeff Teper, corporate vice president of Teams, Microsoft OneDrive and Sharepoint, said in a statement. . “As many companies navigate in-person work scenarios, a plan for hybrid engagement is critical. Employees and students can access one of the world’s largest libraries of online learning resources with Go1 in Microsoft Teams. companies can also onboard new talent and ensure essential training is provided regardless of employee location.”
One way go1 looks to grow is in how people who learn or train on its platform use it.
another reason barnes and his co-founders, vu tran (growth chief), chris eigeland (cro), and chris hood (cto), started go1, he said, was because of a sore spot one of them encountered directly. Tran was doing his training to become a doctor at the time, and found it very frustrating to have to redo handwashing training every time he started a new rotation.
“There was no way to re-share that I had already done it,” Barnes said. go1 is trying to duplicate that, increasing its users’ ability to “own” those credentials and certifications and reuse them in subsequent places, even when they change jobs. (again…not unlike exporting a playlist from spotify, which you can do too).
Looks like I’m not the only one seeing a lot of buzz from spotify on go1.
“When people think of music, they often think of spotify and access to unlimited music for a subscription. We believe that go1 is the emerging category leader in providing a similar experience for corporate learning. Powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, the go1 platform provides an intuitive experience and creates an opportunity for people to further their career goals and explore resources to help them achieve them,” said Nagraj Kashyap, Managing Partner, Softbank Investment Advisors. , it’s a statement. .