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Reimagining the Workforce Upskilling Experience: Why We’re Excited to Co-Lead Degreed’s Series D
April 13, 2021
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“At Degreed, we’ve always selected investor partners who are great humans, deeply understand our space and believe in our mission. Kevin and the Sapphire team embody that profile. Kevin has been a true believer in what the business can become since day one, and he breaks the mold in what you look for from a true partner to the business and all of its stakeholders. Furthermore, Sapphire has been delivering on the promise of adding value for years, even pre-investment. It’s a VC that we feel is uniquely positioned to open doors to our Global 2000 customers and I’m excited to call them partners.” — CEO, Chris McCarthy

“The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is to not train them and keep them,” said Zig Ziglar, a best-selling American author and speaker who uplifted millions with his motivational messages. This fundamental shift in thinking sparked a major transformation in the way employers view their employees. It was also the catalyst for the creation of the learning and people teams we see today, which are dedicated to upskilling their workforce and progressing employee careers. 

Now, in the age of the empowered employee where workforces expect companies to provide them with learning and development opportunities (and managers see the benefits of doing so), companies of all sizes are allocating resources to help employees grow in their careers and learn the skills they need to be successful. 

But employees don’t always know where to start, what content is available to them or how to most effectively accomplish a desired goal. Enter Degreed. With a bold goal to make skills not credentials the currency of work, Degreed was founded on the core tenet that everyone has a unique learning opportunity that goes beyond a qualification or static piece of paper. 

Degreed is built on peoples’ innate drive to learn, grow, advance and improve themselves by giving them the tools and skills they need to progress—degree by degree. That’s why Sapphire Ventures couldn’t be more thrilled to back Degreed and co-lead the company’s $153 million Series D round.  

A new era of management

Chris McCarthy, CEO, Degreed

Degreed has been one of our longest relationships with a business, starting six years ago with founder David Blake and continuing on with CEO Chris McCarthy, Kat Kennedy (President and Chief Experience Officer), Nathan Kimmons (Chief Operating Officer) and the rest of the Degreed team. At Sapphire, we’ve been increasingly amazed at the opportunity in front of Degreed and by the team’s continued execution over the better part of a decade. Today, Degreed employs over 500 people and supports hundreds of customers in 27 countries around the world. 

As Degreed moves into its latest stage of growth, we are extremely excited as Chris passes the CEO mantle onto Dan Levin. Dan is a recognized and experienced executive who is well-known to Sapphire, having been the COO & President of Box (a former Sapphire portfolio company) for over 10 years. It doesn’t surprise us that Dan immediately recognized the tremendous opportunity with Degreed to continue to build a company that is reimagining the employee learning experience and is making a real difference in people’s lives. We believe Dan will continue to build upon Chris and David Blake’s legacies and lead Degreed into rare air as a generation-defining business.

Personalized learning experiences for all employees

Organizations are under pressure from their employees, and in particular, a newer generation of workers. The latest generation to hit the workforce, Gen-Z, demands greater opportunity and personalization in how they navigate their career, with access to tools and like minded employers who share in their desire to develop within the employee base. 

Traditional Learning Management Systems (LMS) solutions aren’t meeting this heighted bar, creating demand for an emerging Learning Experience Platform (LXP) layer where employees can grow their skill sets through better, customized, learning experiences. With an LXP, employees have the opportunity to take more control of their desired learning path in conjunction with their employer to create a more satisfying, fulfilling and most importantly, productive workforce.  

What makes Degreed so special

Founded in 2012, Degreed is a single-view platform that acts as a portal to the next step in an employee’s career. Degreed drives skill development and internal mobility by suggesting curated and individualized training journeys, as well as skills paths based on predictive and prescriptive analytics.

Sitting on top of a LMS and curating content from multiple sources, the Degreed platform adopts an agnostic approach to suggesting learning content. This freedom and flexibility is then combined with a powerful analytics layer, which gives management the oversight to identify what employees are engaging with, making it easy to allocate budget to popular content providers with just a few clicks.  

The insights and analytics within the Degreed platform introduce a unique and powerful layer to employees’ learning journey. By gathering vast amounts of data about the content being consumed and capturing information about the outcomes for employees who have completed their training, Degreed is able to identify what works and what doesn’t for every single employee. The platform is fully adaptive too, meaning that every person’s skill path is totally unique and is tailored to suit their learning style. Degreed also evolves along the way as employee preferences shift. 

The aggregation of content, additional analytics and personalization into a single, unified layer marks the creation of a new LXP category, which Degreed created and is at the forefront for. The evolution of this market prompted Gartner to introduce a whole new category within the Corporate Learning Suites sector, and Degreed has been a leader in the Magic Quadrant ever since it acquired Pathgather.

Providing the skills for tomorrow’s workforce

Sapphire is proud to work with and invest in companies that we believe to be of real consequence and that will change the world for the better. Degreed is the embodiment of our philosophy and its values align so closely to ours that we couldn’t be more excited to be partners on this journey.

Degreed’s commitment to personalized learning experiences and its agnostic approach to the educational and training content it delivers, ensures that its users build the skills they need, in the way they want. This makes for a more effective workforce, ultimately leading to a better bottom line for businesses.

For organizations looking to foster a powerful learning culture and upskill their workforce, it’s our belief that Degreed is an essential tool they can’t afford to be without.


Legal disclaimer

Disclaimer: Nothing presented within this article is intended to constitute investment advice, and under no circumstances should any information provided herein be used or considered as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy an interest in any investment fund managed by Sapphire Ventures (“Sapphire”). Information provided reflects Sapphires’ views as of a time, whereby such views are subject to change at any point and Sapphire shall not be obligated to provide notice of any change. Companies mentioned in this article are a representative sample of portfolio companies in which Sapphire has invested in which the author believes such companies fit the objective criteria stated in commentary, which do not reflect all investments made by Sapphire. A complete alphabetical list of Sapphire’s investments made by its direct growth and sports investing strategies is available here. No assumptions should be made that investments listed above were or will be profitable. Due to various risks and uncertainties, actual events, results or the actual experience may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated in these statements. Nothing contained in this article may be relied upon as a guarantee or assurance as to the future success of any particular company. Past performance is not indicative of future results.