09/17/2020

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Friday Fundings: MasterClass, Deel, and United Dwelling



MasterClass Raises $100 Million


MasterClass, an online education platform, raised $100 million in a Series E round this week, bringing the startup’s total valuation to $800 million. The San Francisco-based company sells celebrity-taught classes to consumers and bills itself as a platform that sits somewhere between education and entertainment.

MasterClass partners with big names, or “masters,” such as sports stars like Serena Williams and Steph Curry, chefs like Gordon Ramsay, and musicians like DeadMau5. The celebrities do not interact with customers on a daily basis, instead they record tutorials and lectures for people to access and observe.

The sneak peek into a celebrity’s life and the advice they offer allows the audience to catch a glimpse of how famous and successful people think and work. MasterClass then charges $180 for an annual subscription for customers to access its content library. That recurring revenue is now responsible for 100% of MasterClass’ sales. The latest round will be used to create new classes, experiment with audio-only mode, and even explore augmented reality.

Andreessen Horowitz Leads $14 million Investment Round into Deel


It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced more people to work remotely. Some of the challenges that come with the cultural shift have been less conspicuous, however.

For example, the process of hiring and onboarding talent has been altered. Navigating compliance and payment for workers that are sometimes spread out across the world is also time-consuming. Even local labor laws need to be assessed when not everyone is in the same city anymore. The host of challenges has presented an opportunity for Deel, the first payroll platform for remote teams, which just secured a $14 million Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz.

Founded by MIT graduates Alex Bouaziz and Shuo Wang in 2018, Deel aims to capitalize on the fragmented nature of remote workforces. The main product helps with hiring and paying workers no matter where they are in the world. Instead of using multiple vendors, Deel wants to be the one-stop shop for a company’s personnel management needs. Deel went through startup accelerator Y Combinator last year and since then has added 400 clients to its resume.

Turning Garages into Affordable Housing


Affordable housing is a real problem in the United States due to the lack of inventory on the market. In fact, just yesterday the National Association of REALTORS® said the supply of homes for sale in April fell nearly 20% annually to almost 1.5 million units. For context, that is the lowest April inventory figure ever. While it may seem paradoxical given the amount of people filing for unemployment and small businesses struggling across the country, home prices are actually soaring to record highs due to the limited housing selection.

One startup wants to address the problem and founded a company called United Dwelling—the goal of which is to turn underutilized garages and backyards into affordable housing. Other venture firms have gotten on board as well: United Dwelling just raised a $10 million Series B round led by Alpha Edison.

The founder of United Dwelling is a man named Steven Dietz, who originally made his mark by investing in Costco (COST) and Starbucks (SBUX), and then later founded Upfront Ventures. Upfront went on to invest in companies ranging from PetSmart to Office Depot and in 2016 Dietz sold his stake in the venture capital company.

The funding for United Dwelling will partly be used to build thousands of accessory units, which are essentially 369-square-foot studio homes that people can place on their plots of land. Dietz believes that not only will this increase the stock of affordable housing inventory, but it will also allow homeowners to supplement their income.


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