The Principal of New York
Before Mayor Bloomberg signed up for Codecademy, before General Assembly signed its first lease in the Flatiron—even before Peter Thiel started paying kids to skip school—Skillshare founder and CEO Mike Karnjanaprakorn was trying convince New York investors to finance his peer-to-peer learning startup. He billed the company as the Etsy of education, since it set up a market for anyone to teach—and learn—practical skills through an affordable hands-on class, starting at $25 a night. (The hybrid online classes that Skillshare launched this August, with Livestream office hours, start at just $20 a night.)
Thrive Capital, the New York-based venture capital firm helmed by 26-year-old Josh Kushner*, announced today that it has successfully raised a $150 million fund for early and later stage startups. The news comes almost a year to the day after Thrive announced a $40 million raise from investors like Princeton University. The fresh $150 million comes from a slew of some of the same investors, including Princeton, Wellcome Trust and Hall Capital Partners.
We had no idea. Really. These dudes tell us nothing. Nobody wants this to be an Arrington-SV Angel style relationship more than us, but they’re not buying it.
As we reported earlier today, Thrive Capital just had a big, 17X exit with GroupMe that is a feather in the cap of the young fund.
Now Fortune is reporting that Thrive Capital has raised a new, $40 million fund, a step up from their first $10 million fund. Aside from GroupMe, Thrive also had an exit when Hot Potato sold to Facebook. OnSwipe, a Thrive company, recently raised $5 million.
Small VCs, like start-ups, would be wise to close their financing now, before macro-economic uncertainties get any worse.
Continuing education start-up Skillshare, founded by former Hot Potato head of product Mike Karnjanaprakorn and veteran CTO Malcolm Ong, has been growing slowly since it first started offering classes in New York City in the spring after raising $550,000 from Founder Collective, SV Angel, Collaborative Fund and angel investors including Meetup’s Scott Heiferman and TechStars’s David Tisch. “When we first launched, we got a lot of feedback like ‘why is this closed, why isn’t this open everywhere?’ But for us it was like we really abide by the lean start-up philosophy,” Mr. Karnjanaprakorn told Betabeat last week.
He and Mr. Ong decided to limit Skillshare, which lets users offer small, paid classes in anything from computer programming to making chocolate, viewing New York as a sandbox for the company to work out any bugs and, you know, see if anyone would want to use it.
Turns out they did. “We have teachers that make a lot of money on the platform, thousands of dollars,” he said, citing one teacher who does a class in Ruby on Rails.