Insights Into the Human Capital Backed by GSV
Get insights into 31,000+ current and former employees backed by GSV.
The digital education industry is expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2027. Global Silicon Valley is investing in the people building innovative education companies that will transform society.
In this installment of our VC portfolio series, we partnered with GSV to look at insights from a sample of 31,000+ current and former employees across 89 of GSV's portfolio companies, including:
- Founders: 900 people in a founder role and what they are building
- Stealth: 15 employees that went from a GSV-backed company to stealth mode
- Educators: 220+ current portfolio employees that were previously educators
- Alumni: 34 current employees whose previous role was at another GSV company
- Open to Work: Former GSV portfolio talent that is on the sidelines and open to work
Dive in below to answer the question, “Who is building the future of education?”
A Quick Intro to GSV
Global Silicon Valley (GSV) focuses on investing in companies that will shape the future of education, work, and life. Their investment thesis is based on the idea that we are living in a time of accelerating change, driven by technological advancements and global shifts in demographics, economic power, and geopolitical influence.
These changes are creating new opportunities and challenges, and the companies that can navigate and capitalize on these changes will be the ones that succeed in the long term. GSV looks for companies that have innovative technologies, business models, or products that can address these opportunities and challenges.
Spurred on by the pandemic, the education industry is ripe for disruption and innovation, and the companies that are building at the forefront will impact the future of millions, if not billions, of learners. GSV focuses on investments in companies that are going to transform society through innovations in education technology.
Like many funds, GSV's investment approach is based on identifying and partnering with people and companies that have a clear vision and a proven track record of execution.
GSV's investment thesis is based on the belief that the companies that are driving the future of education, work, and life will be the ones that create the most value for their customers and investors. They believe that by investing in these companies, they can generate strong returns for their investors while also supporting the development of solutions to some of the world's biggest challenges.
From the 31,000 people we sampled, almost 900 are current founders or co-founders. Many are multi-time founders currently building their second, third, or fourth company. Many are first-time founders looking to turn technical or domain expertise into revolutionary ideas.
- 100 of the founders or co-founders are currently at a GSV portfolio company
- 30+ current founders were previously at Pluralsight and 20+ came from Coursera
- 20+ current founders were at a GSV-backed company and are now building a future of work or education company
Looking outside of GSV’s current portfolio, we’ve surfaced over 70 new education or e-learning founders in the last two quarters. What are they building and how many of these founders will GSV back in the future?
GSV is known for investing in founders who have a deep understanding of the education industry and are passionate about transforming the way people learn. Some of the founders that GSV has backed include Andrew Grauer of Learneo, David Blake of Degreed, and Chip Paucek of 2U.
The founders that GSV backs bring deep experience to the table, having previously founded successful edtech companies or held leadership positions in traditional education institutions. They understand the challenges that students and educators face in and are committed to using technology to make education more accessible, personalized, and effective.
Backed by GSV, these founders are able to leverage their expertise to create innovative solutions that have the potential to transform the education industry and improve the lives of millions of learners around the world.
From our sample, we found 15 employees whose previous role was at a GSV portfolio company and who are currently in stealth.
- Over 25% of the people in stealth are based in the Silicon Valley
- 8 people previously backed by GSV have gone stealth in 2023
- Over 55% of the people now in stealth are in a founder or co-founder role
How many of the people in stealth, that were previously backed by GSV, are building the future of education?
Stealth education companies are most often founded by individuals who have extensive experience in the education industry or related fields. These founders and their early employees often have backgrounds that include working at edtech startups or education institutions, as well as experience in product development and marketing.
Consequently, for those looking to invest in education companies, following the movement of people from GSV portfolio companies to stealth can be a great way to source deals and stay up to date with the latest companies.
In addition, many founders of stealth edtech companies hold advanced degrees in education or come from an academic background. They have a deep understanding of the challenges facing the education industry and are committed to creating innovative solutions that can help students, learners, and educators overcome these challenges.
Investing in Former Educators
With GSV’s specific focus on the education sector, it makes sense to explore the connection between their portfolio talent and the classroom.
- 75 current portfolio company employees were teachers in their previous role
- 42 current portfolio company employees were professors in their previous role
- 111 current portfolio company employees were educators in their previous role
Edtech startups often prioritize hiring former educators, teachers, and professors as their extensive experience in the field of education allows them to bring insights and expertise to the development and implementation of innovative educational technologies. These individuals possess a deep understanding of the challenges faced by both students and educators, enabling them to identify specific needs and gaps within the education system.
Working at an edtech startup, former teachers can contribute to the design and refinement of educational tools and platforms, ensuring that they are user-friendly, pedagogically sound, and aligned with the needs of both learners and teachers. Their credibility and firsthand knowledge of classroom dynamics and instructional strategies make them effective advocates for new solutions, bridging the gap between technological advancements and practical implementation.
Former educators are uniquely equipped to help technical founders revolutionize education and enhance learning outcomes on a global scale.
Multiple Port Co
From our sample, 34 current GSV portfolio company employees came from another portfolio company.
- 19 of the 34 have had more than 3 roles at GSV portfolio companies
- 14 of the 34 are sales or marketing talent with domain expertise in the education space
- 8 of the 34 are VP-level or higher talent
In previous portfolio deep dives, we’ve highlighted how people tend to follow the people they enjoy working with including founders, investors, and high-level staff.
GSV’s unique focus on the education industry highlights another reason that employees may choose to move between portfolio companies – the mission. Many of the people who choose to work in the education sector are passionate about education as a medium to improve the world and transform society.
For mission-driven investors or investors in mission-driven verticals, alumni employees can be a great way for teams to source talent and help companies make the right human capital investments.
Open To Work
Almost 1,100 former GSV-backed employees are currently on the sidelines. Many of these individuals are high-performing talent that would make a great addition to a growing team.
- Over 40% of the former GSV talent that is open to work came onto the talent market in 2023, including 125 people in the last 30 days
- Almost 40% of the talent that is currently open to work was most recently at a GSV portfolio company
Looking to help one of your portfolio companies fill a specific new role? You likely have alumni talent that is on the sidelines ready to fill the majority of your open roles.
Mapping GSV's previous talent to current open roles within their portfolio, it is easy to see how alumni talent "on the bench" can be a great asset for investors looking to help the companies they are involved with source talent that is a known quantity.