Go1 co-founder Vu Tran to leave edtech unicorn, hopes legacy will be further startup spin-offs

Go1 co-founder Vu Tran to leave edtech unicorn, hopes legacy will be further startup spin-offs

Go1 co-founder Vu Tran has today announced he will be stepping back from day-to-day operations of the Logan, Queensland-based edtech unicorn, and has described the encouragement from his fellow co-founders to pursue new opportunities as "rarefied air" in the startup community. 

From what began as "four mates in a basement", Go1 has grown to achieve double unicorn status with more than 600 staff globally working on its curated e-learning library that is the largest of its kind, functioning as a kind of Netflix for training. 

Several acquisitions have seen it diversify its geographic footprint, offering and expertise, including last year's purchase of German mobile learning app Blinkist which distills books into bite-sized 15-minute explainers, and UK-based Anders Pink which bolstered Go1's artificial intelligence capability.

In a LinkedIn post, Tran said he felt immense pride in the fact that today, on average, three people will undertake some kind of learning on the Go1 platform every second.

"It is with a heavy heart but also a deep sense of excitement that I step back from Go1," he wrote.

"I will still be involved outside of the day-to-day, in particular to support my fellow co-founders (and lead them astray with bad advice when I can)," he quipped, later clarifying to Business News Australia that he would remain as a shareholder and advisor to the leadership team.

"As I step back from Go1 after almost a decade of doing what we do and almost 18 years of working with my co-founders who I love, I am so proud of what we have and will continue to achieve as a company."

He thanked "each and every single person who currently and has previously worked" at the company, which now services more than 17,000 businesses around the world. 

"I really want to acknowledge the people who have come, built Go1, and have left and moved on to bigger and better things. I really love that," he told Business News Australia.

He said there were dozens of people who have left Go1 and have gone on to start their own businesses, and hoped one of Go1's great legacies would be the flow-on effect those former employees have on the startup ecosystem through ventures they create.

"Steve Baxter told us that the best thing we can do for the startup community is to become the most successful company we can. That’s the best way we can give back," he said.

"Think about what Canva and Atlassian have done for the Australian startup ecosystem – if we can have just a fraction of that sort of impact on the startup ecosystem, that’s exponential, it’s a generational impact. You change the trajectory of people’s lives.

"The fact that through people believing in us we’ve been able to create jobs and give people a livelihood, there is something amazing when you can create something that allows other people to thrive. That’s incredibly satisfying."

The seasoned entrepreneur started earlier businesses with his friends almost 18 years ago before Go1 pivoted to a new business model in 2015, having gone through the Y Combinator accelerator with its founders adopting a more ambitious global outlook and switching to a training marketplace model. This decision implied the sacrifice several non-core businesses including the founders' successful web design tool Aduro.

"As a company, our mission to “Unlock positive potential in people through a love of learning” is so important. From when we started Go1, I could not have fathomed the breadth and depth of what we do today and what we will continue to do in the future," he wrote.

"For me personally, my motivation was simply to build something with people I love working with, my best mates, and do something which has an impact.

"When I reflect on the journey to date and some of the amazing things we have achieved, I am both in awe of what we’ve done but also am so excited for the future."

Tran was coy about what's coming next, but needless to say he won't be stepping away from the world of business altogether.

"A big driver for me is I love building things. Now is a better time than ever to be building something in business in tech in Australia," he said.

"I wouldn’t be stepping back from Go1 unless there was something that I was truly passionate about that I can sink my teeth into.

"A big part of me is also paying tribute to my co-founders. Andres (Barnes), Chris (Hood), Chris (Eigeland) and I are incredibly close, and I am doing this with their full blessing, which I'm really lucky for...for founders to feel that way, to feel encouraged by fellow co-founders, I think is rarefied air"."

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