While the Corona pandemic is forcing people to stay at home, there are many ways to feel connected, manage stress and get creative indoors. The e-learning plattform Skillshare connects people through creativity.
BurdaPrincipal Investments' portfolio currently comprises 17 companies, all of which are unique. One of these is the American e-learning platform Skillshare, in which Burda has been involved since 2018. Skillshare CEO Matt Cooper explains in an interview what makes the company and the collaboration with Burda so special.
Please describe your business – if possible – in three sentences.
Skillshare is an online learning community for creators, with more than 20,000+ video-based classes taught by 8,000+ experts across the globe. Our students get access to all available classes as part of our premium membership, and can participate in class projects, workshops and networking with other teachers and students.
When and why did you join Skillshare?
I joined in November 2016, originally as COO and then took on the CEO role a year later. There were three things about Skillshare that really excited me, with the first being the underlying business model. Two-sided, open platforms like Skillshare are notoriously hard to get up and running, but once you reach some scale they have very powerful network effects (which is also an investment thesis of BPI). The second was the stage of the company - Skillshare had experienced healthy growth over the previous years, but it was clear that they were entering a stage of growth where my skills and experience could be valuable. And finally the social impact was a major draw. It's hard to find a company that is both a high-growth, high-upside business AND delivers a very clear social impact and value to our users. Our ability to light a creative spark in people is very rewarding.
What makes Skillshare unique?
Two primary things - 1) our vertical focus and 2) our two-sided business model. The vertical focus on the creative sector allows us to deliver a product experience and learning content that makes us the clear industry leader. I like to say that it's hard to be a dessert topping AND a floor wax - you have to pick what you're going to be best in the world at, and what things you're going to leave for others. We want to be the global leader for creatives to learn, connect and grow.
The second is the two-sided open platform. Any expert can come in and teach classes on Skillshare, provided they meet our quality expectations for a Skillshare class. This gives us a depth and breadth of content that is hard to match. On the student side we have a subscription model, where all 20,000+ classes are available if you are a paid member. We deliver an extraordinary amount of value via that model.
How do you benefit from Burda as an investor? What’s your perception of the company?
BPI has experience in many marketplace and platform-based businesses, including Etsy which has many similarities to Skillshare. I had a chance to meet many of their other portfolio founders and CEOs in Bavaria last year, and learned a lot from their expertise developed from hard work over many years.
As I've come to know the Burda team and culture better over the last year, I've also been very impressed by the culture. The company certainly comes across as a high-performance team, but you can feel the personal connection of the Burda family in how everyone works together. I had a chance to hear Mr. Burda speak at the recent CEO conference and his personal warmth and care for his employees was great to see.
What are your company’s goals for the future?
We want to be the global leader for creative education and community. Helping people find that creative spark or take the next step in their personal creative journey is very rewarding, and we want to deliver that experience for millions of people across the globe. We have a lot of hard (and fun) work ahead of us to achieve this vision, but we firmly believe it is within our reach.