MasterClass raises $35 million for celebrity taught classes

If you want to learn something new, learn it from the master. That’s the thesis behind MasterClass, which offers tennis tips from Serena Williams, cooking advice from Gordon Ramsay and vocal training from Christina Aguilera.

The startup has online courses from leaders in their field, charging about $90 for the hours long sessions. Students also have access to the community and instructor Q&As.

Venture capitalists are betting that this will become a big business, with IVP leading a $35 million Series C round. New investors Sam Lessin and GSV Acceleration joined, with NEA, Bloomberg Beta and others participating again.

MasterClass is “building a modern day Library of Alexandria,” said Eric Liaw, general partner at IVP, who will be joining the board. “Shakespeare couldn’t teach playwriting in his own words,” or at least there wasn’t a video recording of it. 

David Rogier, co-founder and CEO says they want to add more classes and hire more employees at their offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles. They are hoping to expand beyond arts and add a “business” category for tutorials from world-class entrepreneurs and visionaries. “Imagine if Steve Jobs had a class,” said Rogier. 

They work with the “masters” to produce the video and develop the program. They also have a revenue share arrangement with the instructors.

Rogier wouldn’t share how many people use the service, but mentioned that they are distributed across all income levels, education levels and geographies.

For “up to 80% of our students this is their first ever online class,” he said. “We are trying to set a brand new bar of what online education is.”