The basic premise behind MasterClass is that if you really want to learn a subject, you need to learn it from the best. Whether that’s Serena Williams on tennis, or James Patterson on writing fiction, or cooking advice from Gordon Ramsay, or vocal training from Christina Aguilera, this new round of funding is set to bring even more renowned instructors to MasterClass, as well as expand its curricula beyond just the Arts.
Currently, MasterClass offers online courses from leaders in their field, charging about $90 for the classes in each topic area. The students who sign up, also have access to the community taking the courses, as well as the instructor, through the posting of questions and then receiving answers from classmates and assistants to the writer.
Venture capitalists see this as a very viable model for online classes going forward, and IVP is now leading a $35 million Series C round as part of the gamble. Investors Sam Lessin and GSV Acceleration have also joined in this round, with NEA, Bloomberg Beta and others once again participating.
Many investors see this as building a modern day “Library of Alexandria” and with today’s video technology, we may be able to record these great athletes and intellects for generations to come. One can only imagine if the technology had existed when the likes of Edison, Tesla and Einstein were around, how many other minds they could have impacted through the reach of online video learning and courseware.
David Rogier, the co-founder and CEO says his company wants to add many more classes, beyond just the Arts. “Imagine if Steve Jobs had a class,” said Rogier. Rogier and his team work with the “masters” to produce the video and develop the program. They also have a revenue share model for these celebrity instructors. What will be interesting to watch is if the business community will participate as planned, or whether the top people will produce these videos themselves.
Rogier wouldn’t disclose the number of students who have taken these courses, but he did mention that they are distributed across all income levels, education levels and geographies. Rogier says that for up to 80% of the MasterClass student population, this is their first online class. And then he went on to say that, “We are trying to set a brand new bar of what online education is.”
Look for more great courses to come from MasterClass, and as one of their former students, I can say that I wasn’t disappointed. The James Patterson course gave me quite an insight into how his great books were written, and rewritten, and then rewritten yet one more time. But the biggest “ahha’s” were not what I expected. It was how he did his book outlines and how he linked all of the chapters together to draw the reader in. That changed how I plan to approach longer works in the future. But the very best thing about that course was that it only cost $90.