Former CEO and Chairman of American Express, Ken Chenault, joins Guild Education’s Board of Directors as the company sets out to transform America’s workforce through access to education and opportunity
DENVER, Nov. 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Guild Education, a B Corporation focused on creating opportunity for America’s workforce through education, announced today the close of its $157 million Series D financing round led by General Catalyst with its Chairman and Managing Director, Ken Chenault, who is also the former Chairman and CEO of American Express, leading the investment and joining Guild’s Board of Directors. The latest funding establishes Guild, now valued at $1 billion, as one of only a few female-led companies this year to earn a valuation of $1 billion or more.
Fundamentally, education creates opportunity. 88 million Americans are in need of reskilling and upskilling in order to compete in the future of work, 64 million of whom have yet to complete college. Guild Education is focused on expanding opportunity through education for these individuals – America’s workforce.
Guild Education partners with leading Fortune 1000 employers, such as Walmart, Lowe’s, The Walt Disney Company, Discover Financial, and Chipotle, to offer their workforces a robust employee education benefits platform, including access to a diverse network of non-profit, accredited universities, such as the University of Arizona, Purdue Global, Southern New Hampshire University, and the University of Central Florida.
To date, 400,000 working adults have leveraged Guild to explore their paths back to school with their company’s support. Through their company’s sponsorship, these employees have access to a variety of education programs, including bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as certificates, trade diplomas, English-as-a-second-language classes, and high school completion programs.
As Guild expands its national impact, the company will use this latest round of funding to continue its focus of reaching the millions of Americans who need access to higher education — expanding its set of employer and university partnerships, exploring acquisition opportunities and growing its team to better serve those partners and support more students.
In concurrence with the funding, Ken Chenault has joined Guild’s Board of Directors. Before joining General Catalyst last year, he spent 37 years at American Express, most recently as Chairman and CEO, a position he held from 2001 to 2017. He is recognized as one of the business world’s experts on brands and brand management. Under his leadership, American Express built one of the largest customer loyalty programs – Membership Rewards – and earned global recognition as a leader in customer service. Chenault brings this depth of knowledge to Guild’s board, including his leadership forging partnerships across the Fortune 500, and his many years of board service with world-class organizations.
“Ken and I share a deeply held belief that today’s leading CEOs are uniquely capable of driving social change around the world, but most importantly within their own company, for their employees and their families,” said Rachel Carlson, Guild Education CEO & Co-Founder. “This new financing and Ken’s partnership will further advance our mission to support the 88 million Americans who are in need of reskilling and upskilling in order to compete in the future of work, helping them go back to school debt-free with support from their employer.”
“The role of education in combating income inequality and arming individuals who feel disempowered in society should not be underestimated,” said Ken Chenault, Chairman and Managing Director, General Catalyst. “Rachel’s extensive work in higher education with low income students gave her the unique insight that much of the American dream is unlocked with access to quality education, which can be transformational. Guild gives corporations the unique opportunity to provide this access to their employees, while increasing talent retention and delivering value to the enterprise. Guild is a company not just with a mission, but also a strong business model and an ability to deliver in ways that will benefit both corporations and society more broadly.”
“As the nature of work continues to change, Walmart is fortunate to work with companies like Guild Education to build programs that empower our associates to advance their education debt-free and grow in their careers,” said Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart, Inc., which partnered with Guild Education to develop Live Better U, the retailer’s education benefit program. “Ken Chenault is a visionary on the role that companies and leaders can play in creating positive change for society, and it is exciting to see him and Guild come together to scale this important work for millions of Americans.”
Emerson Collective, Iconiq Capital and Lead Edge Capital participated with General Catalyst in the round, as well as existing investors including Workday Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Next Play Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, Felicis Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures, and Harrison Metal.
“To build a more just and equitable society, we need to equip all Americans with the skills to thrive in our changing economy,” said Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and President of Emerson Collective. “This thoughtful approach to upskilling some of the hardest working people in our country is an effort we are proud to be part of. Guild Education is widening the circle of opportunity and helping usher in a more inclusive economy.”
About Guild Education
Guild Education is on a mission to unlock opportunity for America’s workforce through education, with a double bottom-line business model that does well by doing good. Guild partners with leading Fortune 1000 employers to help them provide education benefits to their frontline workforce. To do so, Guild partners with the nation’s top universities focused on serving working adults. Through these partnerships, 400,000 working adults have begun exploring their path back to school with Guild. Guild has been named a Fast Company Most Innovative Company, Top Woman-Owned Business of the Year, Employee Initiative of the Year and was one of only three female-led companies listed on the Forbes Cloud 100 2019 List. As one of the fastest growing companies in Denver, Guild is hiring across departments. To learn more about Guild Education, visit www.guildeducation.com.
About General Catalyst
General Catalyst is a venture capital firm that invests in powerful, positive change that endures — for our entrepreneurs, our investors, our people, and society. We support founders with a long-term view who challenge the status quo, partnering with them from seed to growth stage to build companies that withstand the test of time. With offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto, New York City, and Boston, the firm has helped support the growth of businesses, such as: Airbnb, Canva, Datto, Demandware, Grammarly, Gitlab, Guild, Gusto, Hubspot, Kayak, Lemonade, Livongo, Monzo, Oscar, Samsara, Stripe, and Warby Parker. For more: www.generalcatalyst.com.