Tony Blair son plans big expansion for training firm valued at $200m

Business

An education business started by Euan Blair has secured new funding from venture capitalists thought to value the business as high as $200m (£147m) and crystallising a fortune for the son of the former prime minister Tony Blair.

Multiverse is a start-up founded in 2016 that helps young people who don’t want to go to university find apprenticeships with companies and access training.

The valuation placed on the business by new investors indicated that Blair’s stake could be worth more than $60m, making the 37-year-old a paper multimillionaire. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment.

The new funding round was led by US venture capital firm General Catalyst and also includes Google start-up backer Google Ventures. Existing investors include Sky’s executive chairman, Jeremy Darroch, while Lightspeed Ventures and Index Ventures, which contributed to a $16m fundraising last year, also put in new money.

Multiverse, previously known as White Hat, said it would use the money to expand across the UK, with plans to create 200 jobs in 2021. The company will also launch in New York this month.

In Europe, the firm has more than 300 clients including Facebook, Morgan Stanley, KPMG, Fujitsu, Capita and Microsoft. In the last year, the company has tripled the number of apprentices it trains to more than 2,000.

Blair, whose father used a 1999 speech to set a target of 50% of young people going into higher education, said it was time to move away from the belief that a university education was the only route to success.

“This model is fundamentally broken – too often failing to give people the skills they need and not spreading opportunity fairly across society. We’re building an outstanding alternative to both the university system, and to a corporate training model that rarely delivers long-term impact and genuine results.

“There are many different ways for people to be successful and we’re empowering people from diverse communities to access the very best opportunities through apprenticeships as they embark on a successful and fulfilling career.”

Multiverse said its model of matching talented people with apprenticeships made for more equal access to good jobs.

It said 55% of apprentices placed by Multiverse are people of colour, 22% are black and 53% are women, while 33% have received free school meals.

Blair held 6m shares – an estimated 40% stake – in the business as of November 2020, according to filings at Companies House. The former Labour leader’s eldest child is understood to have retained his holding, although his stake is likely to have been reduced by the $44m in new funding announced on Tuesday.