Type of site
|Founded||October 2014(as Yanka Industries)|
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California, U.S.|
|Key people||David Rogier (CEO)|
Vanna Krantz (CFO)
Yanka Industries, Inc., doing business as MasterClass, is an American online education subscription platform on which students can access tutorials and lectures pre-recorded by experts in various fields.
MasterClass was founded by David Rogier while a student at Stanford University, originally under the name "Yanka Industries". Rogier, who continues to serve as chief executive officer (CEO), asked Aaron Rasmussen to join the company as a co-founder and chief technology officer; Rasmussen would also serve as creative director, before leaving in January 2017. The website launched under the MasterClass name on May 12, 2015.
MasterClass launched in 2015 with three instructors, and twelve classes were added in 2017. In late 2017, an acting class given by Kevin Spacey was removed after multiple sexual assault allegations were publicly made against the actor. By late 2018 MasterClass had about 50 classes and 1,000 lessons. Support for mobile devices was first added in April 2018.
MasterClass was started with $4.5 million in initial funding and two seed-funding rounds totaling $1.9 million. This was followed by $15 million in funding announced in 2016, $35 million in 2017, and $80 million in 2018. In May 2020, MasterClass raised $100 million in a Series E funding round led by Fidelity Investments, bringing total funding to approximately $240 million.
MasterClass produces online classes with well-known instructors in their field of expertise. Classes cover topics like writing, sports, and cooking. As of 2019, the company was expanding into politics, economics, and video game design. Many instructors do live demonstrations if the topic is easy to illustrate visually, while writers lecture.
The courses are available through an annual subscription. The classes are typically not interactive, though at least one course included interactive assignments where the student acted with other students, either in person or over Skype.
Reviewers have noted that some of the courses, such as those related to the performing arts, require students to already have some basic proficiency. The courses were also noted for their high production values, and for inspiring students to continue to pursue the subject matter. Exposure to popular celebrities was also reported as a benefit. The Verge noted that while the subscriptions initially lasted a lifetime, different courses have different replay value. The publication also noted the challenge of keeping students on the site to take additional classes.
In 2021, MasterClass again won two Webby Awards, as well as a Webby People's Voice Award.