Skillshare—the world's largest online learning community for creativity—today announced a funding round of $66 million led by OMERS Growth Equity. With more than 12 million registered members, 8,000 teachers, and over 30,000 video-based classes in a wide range of creative disciplines from graphic design to photography to painting and illustration to interior design, Skillshare has experienced a year of unprecedented growth. To date, Skillshare has raised $42 million in capital from Union Square Ventures, Amasia, Burda Principal Investments and Spero Ventures, who all participated in this round. Citigroup served as exclusive financial advisor to Skillshare.
Skillshare's funding comes on the heels of a brand pivot in early 2020 to focus on the creative community. With roughly 75 percent of Americans participating in a creative hobby and an industry valued at $2.25 trillion, Skillshare focused its resources on meeting the creative needs of everyone—whether for personal or professional purposes—and the shift has resonated: new member sign-ups have tripled and existing members are watching three times the number of lessons since the company repositioned.
In response to a surge in international demand, the funding will primarily be used to create a localized experience for international students, while continuing to expand domestically, and grow Skillshare's enterprise offering. The funding will also create more opportunities for Skillshare's teachers. Skillshare will invest in tools that increase engagement between students and teachers, expand teachers' audiences through dedicated marketing efforts, and create new formats for teachers to earn revenue.
"While the world faces an extended period of uncertainty, creativity will be at the heart of the global rebuild," said CEO Matt Cooper. "Our shift as a business earlier this year has uniquely positioned us to meet that need and resulted in incredible growth, deeper user engagement and interest from new partners during a time where creativity is more important than ever. The impact of social distancing on our mental and emotional wellbeing is profound, and people today are in need of authentic human connection, supportive communities, and creative outlets. At the same time, during recessions and economic downturns, companies perform better because they invest in skills that allow room for ideas and innovation. Skillshare is meeting this demand for both personal and professional growth through creativity."
Skillshare's community-based learning model sets the platform apart from competitors in the online learning space. Signature workshops and project offerings create organic opportunities for positive connections and constructive feedback from peers and teachers—over 200,000 projects have been uploaded to the platform to date.
"As the leading platform for creative skills, Skillshare brings together a truly global community of students and teachers," said Saar Pikar, Managing Director at OMERS Growth Equity, who will join the Skillshare Board of Directors. "Skillshare serves the needs of professional creatives and everyday creative hobbyists alike, which presents a highly-innovative value proposition for the online learning market. We look forward to deepening our partnership with Skillshare, and our fellow investors, in order to help Matt Cooper and his team scale up the company's international reach – and help Skillshare achieve the full potential of its unique approach to online learning," he added.
In the wake of COVID-19, online learning is having a hallmark year, pushing the industry to grow into an anticipated $375 billion dollar marketplace by 2026. In the first half of 2020, Skillshare has focused on releasing quality new classes taught by industry experts, and testing new learning methods and video production processes. As a result, the average rate of engagement has more than doubled in most markets.
The funding will further build out Skillshare's enterprise offering, Skillshare for Teams. Companies increasingly realize the value of a more creative workforce, and as a result, Skillshare has seen sales nearly doubling year-over-year. The company's diverse course offerings have enabled the company to partner with hundreds of businesses including GM Financial, VICE, AWS, Lululemon, American Crafts and Benefit to inspire creativity and wellness, regardless of where they are working and living.