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It’s an unfortunate fact of birth, forever being referred to as the son of former Prime Minister Tony Blair. But perhaps Euan Blair’s latest achievement rather takes the edge off: by ignoring his famous father’s education policy, the 37-year-old is now the richer of the two of them. By quite a way.
So how has he done it? In short: by encouraging millennials not to go to university - in direct contradiction to his father’s promise to help half of young adults get a degree in 1999. His tech education startup, Multiverse, matches young people with apprenticeships at leading employers from Google to Depop after co-founder Euan admitted his own ancient history degree from Bristol “taught him nothing”.
The happily-married former US Congress intern has previously spoken about how his father’s vow had not delivered on social mobility, saying: “When you look at the 50 percent target, the belief was the more people go to university, the more people can access great opportunities, the more we would transition people fairly from full time education to full time employment.
“It has not worked out that way,” he continued, adding: “getting a degree does not guarantee you a job ... even from supposedly top universities.”
Demand for his apprenticeship-led programme has spiked during the pandemic. Since Covid put an end to in-person teaching across many universities, many young people have been asking “questions they may not have asked before” about formal higher education, boosting Multiverse’s funding close to billion-dollar “unicorn” status. Thanks to a new US investor-led funding round, it recently raised £95 million ($130m), rocketing the startup’s value to almost £650 million.
From his Downing Street childhood to his venture capitalist wife, this is how the eldest of the Blair dynasty made his millions.
From Downing Street to Yale
Chances are you’ll have first glimpsed Euan Blair as a teenager standing on the steps of Downing Street with his parents and siblings. Pictures from his father’s time in office show him in a range of classic noughties outfits, from baggy shirts to goatee beards and shaggy teenage hair.
Growing up as Tony Blair’s eldest son undoubtedly had its upsides in helping Euan launch himself into the working world. He became head boy at school and went on to study ancient history at Bristol University before embarking on a masters in international relations at Yale in the US.
He went on to do an internship in US Congress before joining investment bank Morgan Stanley’s graduate programme, where he met his future co-founder: Cambridge and Stanford graduate Sophie Adelman, who was working in recruitment.
Euan wasn’t the only one of his siblings to graduate into a successful career. His brother Nicky, 36, is a football agent with a £2.75 million home in north London, sister Kathryn, 32, is a top barrister with two homes in London and one in Buckinghamshire, and brother Leo, 20, is currently studying at Oxford. Clearly, Euan wasn’t able to dissuade his youngest sibling to swerve further education just yet.
Start(up) of a power couple
Euan’s Downing Street upbringing wasn’t just the catalyst for his professional success, but it clearly played a role in his love life, too. In 2006 he was introduced to his future wife, venture capitalist Suzanne Ashman, by former defence secretary Geoff Hoon, who had given Ashman a work experience placement.
Ashman, the daughter of motor racing entrepreneur Jonathan Ashman, and Blair were together for seven years before marrying in 2013. She currently works as a partner at venture capital firm Local Globe and in 2017 she was named as a prominent European financier in Forbes’ 30 under 30 list.
The couple reportedly live in a £3.6 million townhouse in Marylebone, just round the corner from the co-working space in Marylebone where Blair runs his business. He’s certainly had a glow-up since his teenage days. Interviewers have described the baby-faced entrepreneur as “relaxed and charming” and like any self-respecting tech founder, he has a new look to go with it. The 37-year-old has been seen sporting a pair of hipster glasses over the year and once admitted to doing a Mark Zuckerberg and wearing a rotating wardrobe of branded White Hat sweatshirts, claiming he had them in “different colours, so I can wear a different one every day”.
The billion-dollar idea
Euan is proof that making millions can often be down to having one bright idea and running with it. In 2016 he and Adelman set up White Hat, now rebranded to Multiverse, with the idea of connecting bright school leavers with appetising apprenticeships at top employers.
Since then it has matched more than 5,000 apprentices with top employers and doubled its headcount to 400 staff, including in a newly-launched New York office. Facebook, Google, Depop, Bloomberg and Morgan Stanley are among the 300 or so leading companies Multiverse has partnered with so far and Blair says several young people have even turned down places at Oxford to join the scheme.
Business has continued to grow in recent years - and fast. This week it was reported that Multiverse was nearing billion-dollar “unicorn” status after raising $130 million (£95 million) in a US investor-led funding round, with backers including Google Ventures and Microsoft Chairman John Thompson.
The start-up is now valued at $875 million (£639 million), up from a $200 million valuation since January, and Euan is now estimated to have a paper fortune in the tens of millions thanks to reportedly owning between 25 to 50 per cent of the company’s shares.
For Euan, the pandemic has only bolstered his belief that too many people are choosing university. He says his own degree “taught him nothing” and thinks the rise in remote teaching caused by Covid has only lessened higher education’s appeal. “Getting a degree does not guarantee you a job... even from supposedly top universities,” he said recently at the Evening Standard’s London Rising series.
Clearly, young people and their parents are listening: a YouGov poll published in May found that 42 per cent of people thought that an apprenticeship was a better preparation than university for the future — seven times the number who believed a degree was the best start to working life.
“Over the last few years, the sort of people applying to do apprenticeships has changed quite a lot. You’ve had private schools really embrace it and see an opportunity,” Blair recently said of those changing attitudes, explaining how apprenticeships have started to pass “the middle-class dinner party test”.
His startup has also been praised for prioritising social mobility. 53 per cent of Multiverse’s apprentices are people of colour and 36 per cent come from under-resourced communities.
The company has launched a recruitment drive with rappers including Tinie Tempah and Ms Banks to raise awareness about apprenticeships among more disadvantaged students, with concert tickets offered in return for attending a career workshops.
So what’s next? Since launching a New York office this year, Euan says his next plan is to expand throughout America. If his success in the UK is anything to go by, being three times richer than his father could be just the beginning.