M1 Finance closes $45M Series C mere months after it raised its $33M Series B

Just months after it announced a $33 million Series B, Chicago-based M1 Finance today disclosed a $45 Series C.

The new financing event was led by Left Lane Capital, the same investor that led M1’s Series B. Bear in mind that so-called inside rounds are now a bullish sign in 2020, as opposed to in prior VC eras when they were viewed more cooly. Other M1 investors include Jump Capital, Clocktower Technology Ventures and Chicago Ventures, though only the first two appear to have taken part in this round.

Per M1, the Series C comes just 120 days after it raised a Series B. A good question is why M1 has raised more capital, and why Left Lane Capital wanted to lead two rounds for the consumer-focused fintech provider. Going back to our prior coverage, we can figure it out.

In February, we reported that M1 Finance had reached the $1 billion assets under management mark, or AUM.

The startup combines three different traditional fintech services into one (roboadvising, neobanking and lending), allowing it to price the package aggressively. The model appears to be working. When M1 raised its Series B a few months later in June, it had reached the $1.45 billion AUM, or about 45% growth in just over a quarter. That’s very good.

Today, the company announced that it has surpassed the $2 billion AUM mark, up more than 38% in the last four months.

M1 posted slower AUM growth in percentage terms and greater growth in raw AUM over a similar time frame heading into its Series C. But regardless of that nuance, the company’s AUM grew quickly.

That fact helps explain its new round. If you were Left Lane Capital, had just led a round into the company, and then watched it keep growing rapidly,

Seattle startup Skilljar raises $33M as pandemic sparks demand for its customer education software

Skilljar co-founders Sandi Lin (left) and Jason Stewart. (Skilljar Photos)

The third time really has been a charm for Sandi Lin and Jason Stewart.

The entrepreneurs began their startup journey in 2013 when the former Amazon employees launched Everpath, a Techstars Seattle company that tried to build a Yelp for online classes. They soon pivoted and began targeting independent instructors, offering them a platform to host online education.

“I call those my first two failed startups,” Lin said this week.

It was the third evolution of the original idea that really took off. Lin and Stewart saw a lot of interest from enterprise companies needing help building customer education experiences. They ultimately launched Skilljar, which has now delivered more than 10 million hours of instruction and 100 million lessons via on-demand and virtual live training programs hosted on its learning management platform.

Skilljar is set to grow even more after raising a fresh $33 million Series B round led by Insight Partners, with participation from existing investors Mayfield, Trilogy Equity Partners, and Shasta Ventures. Total funding to date is north of $50 million. 

The Seattle startup provides the back-end technology and software that lets companies build cloud-based training and onboarding programs for both their own employees and for end users. The company has more than 300 customers, including Smartsheet, Tableau, Cisco, Zendesk, and others. For example, Tableau uses Skilljar to power its Tableau eLearning training courses, while Nintex taps Skilljar to help lower “how-to” support tickets.

Skilljar also offers a built-in assessment and certifications engine, as well as analytics on learner activity and integrations with various other software tools.

Tech giants such as Amazon and Microsoft have built their own customer education platforms, but Skilljar hopes to provide the same service for thousands of other companies that don’t have the