America's richest family buys shares in Tony Blair's son's company

Tony Blair’s son wins backing of America’s richest family: £182billion Walton dynasty buys shares in Euan Blair’s company Multiverse that leaves him with 25% stake worth £343million

  • Euan Blair founded apprenticeship and education company Multiverse in 2016
  • The Walton dynasty, who own Walmart, have taken a stake in the start-up

An education firm founded by Sir Tony Blair’s eldest son Euan has secured the backing of America’s richest family in a deal that values his fortune at around £345million.

The Walton family, owners of US retail empire Walmart who have a net worth of £182billion, were part of a fundraising effort for Euan’s apprenticeship business Multiverse.

Set up in 2016, Multiverse matches school leavers with employers. It makes its money by charging clients a fee once an apprentice is successfully placed.

The business says it offers ‘a genuine, credible alternative that can compete with university’. It counts the NHS, Google, Facebook, investment bank Morgan Stanley and outsourcing firm Capita among its clients.

The company says that since its founding in 2016, it has worked with 10,000 apprentices at 1,000 businesses and that 93 per cent had stayed with the firm where they did their training.

Euan Blair, 39, co-founded Multiverse in 2016 as a business that trains apprentices for recruitment. Pictured: Euan Blair pictured with Multiverse board member and president, Jeremy Duggan

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, with sons Euan (left) and Nicky (right) in Trimdon, in his Sedgefield constituency, June 2001

Members of the Walton family (L-R) Rob, Alice and Jim speak during the annual Walmart shareholders meeting event on June 1, 2018 in Fayetteville, Arkansas

The latest fundraising round, which was backed by Zoma Capital, the family fund of Ben and Lucy Ana Walton, valued Multiverse at £1.4billion, giving Euan, 39, a £345million fortune on paper through his more than 25 per cent stake in the business.

Ben Walton is the grandson of Sam Walton, who set up the Walmart chain in 1962. The family collectively still owns 50 per cent of the company.

The fundraising means Euan has a fortune worth nearly seven times that of his father, who is estimated to have a net worth of £50million.

It also means the company was awarded much coveted ‘unicorn’ status, applied to start-up businesses with a value of over $1billion (£810million).

Zoma took a stake in Multiverse worth around £5million, with the company’s other backers including Google. The investment makes the firm one of Britain’s most valuable start-ups.

Last year, it became the first apprenticeship firm to receive a licence to award degrees for courses that are studied alongside full-time jobs.

In its latest set of accounts, for the year to the end of March 2022, the firm racked up its sixth straight year of losses, which widened to £14.2million from £10.9 million the previous year.

Euan has repeatedly claimed university is not the right path for many young people despite his father having spearheaded a massive expansion of universities during his time in power between 1997 and 2007, fuelling fears of a rise in low-value or so-called ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees.

Euan’s start-up Multiverse became the first apprenticeship provider to be granted degree-awarding powers by the Office for Students, the university regulator

Euan Blair is pictured with his father, former Labour Prime Minister Sir Tony Blair, on the steps of No 10 Downing Street in 2007

Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair vowed to get half of school leavers into university in 1997 with a promise to focus on ‘education, education, education’

The UK government’s apprenticeship levy provides some funding for the programmes, as well as outside funding. Last year Multiverse raised $220 million, allowing it to expand its operations in the US.

Blair’s father, former Labour Prime Minister Sir Tony Blair, vowed to get half of school leavers into university after sweeping to power in 1997. He famously promised that New Labour’s priorities would be ‘education, education, education’.

Under Tony Blair’s New Labour, university tuition fees of £1,000-a-year were introduced in 1998, a move that was met with fierce criticism by opposition parties and the National Union of Students.

Then in 2003, Labour announced plans to hike tuition fees to £3,000-a-year despite earlier promises they would not raise them.

The price hike was defended by Tony Blair who said that ‘graduates should contribute more to their university education’.

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