Go1 confirms $273m raise propels it to 'USD' unicorn status with SoftBank on board

Go1 confirms $273m raise propels it to 'USD' unicorn status with SoftBank on board

Go1 co-founders Chris Eigeland, Vu Tran, Chris Hood and Andrew Barnes.

Last month education technology company Go1 revealed a Series D funding round had given a valuation of more than $1 billion, but last night the Queensland-based company confirmed its new unicorn status is actually in US dollar terms.

This means the trailblazing group founded in Brisbane and headquartered in Logan is worth at least $1.36 billion, following a US$200 million ($273 million) Series D round aimed at creating new partnerships, expanding product offerings, and growing its physical presence worldwide.

The Series D funding round was led by new investor SoftBank Vision Fund 2 alongside existing backers AirTree Ventures and Salesforce Ventures, with additional participation from Blue Cloud Ventures, Larsen Ventures, Scott Shleifer and John Curtius from Tiger Global, and TEN13.

Previous investors also contributed to the round such as Microsoft's venture fund M12, Madrona Venture Group, SEEK (ASX: SEK) and Y Combinator, taking total funds raised to US$280 million ($381 million).

Co-founder and CEO Andrew Barnes is optimistic about the expertise and experience SoftBank brings to the organisation.

"SoftBank have obviously had an extensive history of investing from companies like Alibaba which have been tremendously successful for them, and more recently Uber and DoorDash. They've also invested in some other businesses that haven't necessarily made it to those same heights," Barnes tells Business News Australia.

"For us what's great with having SoftBank involved is the depth of experience and depth of connectivity. We're certainly working closely with them to think about new market expansions and other things of that nature."

He adds it is great to have continued support from existing investors, demonstrating Go1's opportunity to build a business across multiple platforms.

"You think of Microsoft and Salesforce having different product offerings, and they both see the opportunity for what we are doing," says Barnes, who won the Trailblazer Award in the Australian Young Entrepreneur Awards 2020 with co-founders Chris Eigeland, Vu Tran and Chris Hood.

Barnes explains most of Go1's new sales are taking place in the US and Europe, representing an exciting shift over the past 12 months.

"We've got customers from TikTok through to Microsoft in the States, some great customers in the UK as well, and the new funding means that we'll just continue to grow our presence in both of those regions.

"We've just appointed for example a new head of sales in the US based out of New York, and we've got our first member of the executive team overseas, our CTO (chief technology officer) based in Seattle."

He says the support and funding that Go1 has received in its lifetime have been monumental to its growth far, but "this is just the beginning".

"Expanding in the US will allow Go1 to better engage, communicate and support customers and partners, especially as they consider a new hybrid work model," Barnes explains.

"As society transitions out of the pandemic, ensuring that employees have opportunities to explore learning and development resources will be essential for team retention and encouraging employee growth within the organisation.

"This latest round of funding will enable our team to not only expand internally with new global offices and job opportunities, but enables us to be hyper-focused on growing our user base and advancing our product features for our customers."

In 2015 Go1 set out to become a learning and professional development resource for organisations and a critical distribution partner for content providers. Its easy integration and breadth of content have led to widespread adoption on both sides - corporations that now have a single subscription for all workplace training needs, and corporate learning content creators whose insights can find their way to a larger audience.

"Not only has Go1 reimagined the way that organisations tackle corporate education and training, but it allows employees to prioritise their professional development goals," says AirTree Ventures co-founder and partner Craig Blair.

"Their determination to gather content for a variety of skills and flexibility for organisations to create a 'build your own' corporate education hub is what drew us to Go1 and the decision to double down on our investment in the edtech market."

Salesforce Ventures head of Australia, Rob Keith, highlights demand for online learning has been ramping up - including on Salesforce's platform Trailhead - as the pandemic drives consumers online and companies need people with the right skills to rapidly develop and deploy digital experiences for their customers.

"Go1 is well positioned to support learners and companies to develop the skills needed for today's digital economy, with international growth and product innovation increasing the breadth and depth of its offering," Keith says.

The company increased its user base more than 300 percent year-over-year, largely driven by rapid expansion into these markets and key government contracts with the Malaysian and Singaporean governments. Go1 foresees additional expansion opportunities in the United States and Europe through its growing integration with Microsoft Teams, Workday, SAP and more.

"We have been working closely with the Go1 team for a number of years and are thrilled with the progress to date," said SEEK co-founder Andrew Bassat.

"Our continued investment reflects our ongoing commitment to help Go1 achieve its potential to help people to up-skill and re-skill themselves for work, which will be critical as the world recovers from the global pandemic."

Barnes clarifies that Go1 is not just looking at its educational service offerings from a productivity perspective, but other topics such as mental health have risen to prominence.

"We work with providers like Beyond Blue and others across Australia to look at how we can provide training and education on mental health as a topic, or leadership skills and management skills. All of those things continue to be incredibly important and I think will continue to be areas of focus for individuals and organisations in the coming years," he says.

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