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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Byju’s list of aquisitions: Great Learning, Epic, Aakash Educational Services, WhiteHat Jr and more

From WhiteHat Jr to Great Learning: We look at Byju's major purchases in the recent past.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: July 27, 2021 6:12:42 pm
Launched in 2015, Byju's has 6.5 million annual paid subscriptions, and an annual renewal rate of 86 per cent.

Edtech major Byju’s has been on a purchasing spree in 2021. The Bengaluru-based firm, which is India’s one of the most valuable unicorn startups with a valuation of $16.5 billion, on Monday acquired Singapore-headquartered Great Learning for $600 million.

The company stated it will invest another $400 million to accelerate Great Learning’s growth and strengthen its position in the professional and higher education segment. The move comes just days after Byju’s had announced the acquisition of US-based digital reading platform Epic for $500 million.

Byju’s is backed by a string of marquee investors including General Atlantic, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Naspers, Silver Lake and Tiger Global. It secured over $1 billion from investors in 2020 and earlier this year, it raised close to $1.5 billion from a clutch of investors including Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group, UBS Group and Blackstone in tranches.

Here’s a look at Byju’s major purchases in the recent past:

Great Learning ($600 million)

Singapore-headquartered Great Learning was acquired by Byju’s for $600 million on Monday and the edtech major will invest an additional $400 million to strengthen its position in the professional and higher education segment. Great Learning will continue to operate as an independent unit in Byju’s group under the leadership of its founder and CEO Mohan Lakhamraju and co-founders Hari Nair and Arjun Nair.

“With this substantial investment, Great Learning will accelerate its organic and inorganic growth in India and across global markets and expand its high-quality, transformational offerings to learners everywhere,” a company statement said.

Founded in 2013, Great learning, a boot-strapped company, has delivered over 60 million hours of learning to 1.5 million learners from over 170 countries. It leverages a curated network of over 2,800 industry expert mentors and has collaborated with universities globally, including Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), McCombs School of Business – the University of Texas at Austin and others to offer degrees, diplomas and certificate programs. Great Learning and its teams are based out of Singapore, the US and India.

Toppr

Byju’s is expected to spend approximately $150 million for the acquisition of Toppr, according to various media reports. The deal is yet to be confirmed by the company.

In February this year, Byju’s was in the advanced stages of talks to acquire its rival Toppr, according to industry sources, indicating that the transaction could be around $150 million. Byju’s latest acquisition target underlines its aggressive expansion at a time online learning has been gaining currency due to the pandemic.

Epic ($500 million)

Last week, Byju’s acquired US-based kids digital reading platform Epic in a $500 million deal. Epic caters to kids aged 12 and under and the aquisition will help broaden Byju’s footprint in the US as the firm will get access to Epic’s rich global user base that is said to have doubled over the last year and now comprises more than 2 million teachers and 50 million kids.

Epic CEO and co-founder Suren Markosian and other co-founder Kevin Donahue, will, however remain in their roles. The US-based platform’s interactive reading model for kids is in sync with the long term growth strategy of Byju’s that counts the K-12 segment as a focus area.

Byju’s plans an additional $1 billion investment in the North American market.

Aakash Educational Services (~$1 billion)

In April this year, Byju’s had announced the acquisition of Aakash Educational Services Ltd (AESL) for close to $1 billion. AESL had already ventured into an omnichannel model when it raised money from Blackstone back in 2019 by offloading a 37.5 per cent stake valuing the company at nearly $500 million.

According to a company statement, Aakash continues to operate as a separate entity under Byju’s group. The test preparation company runs more than 200 tutoring centres in the country. EY was the exclusive financial advisor for Byju’s on this transaction while Phoenix Advisers was the exclusive advisor for the AESL.

With over 33 years of operational experience in the test preparatory industry, AESL has a lot of students enrolled for medical and engineering entrance exams and several class 9th and 10th level scholarship exams/olympiads.

India’s test-prep segment is already a crowded one, with several players attempting to find a leadership position in various segments.

WhiteHat Jr ($300 million)

Last year in August, Byju’s had acquired WhiteHat Jr for $300 million, making it one of the biggest deals in the edtech sector back then. The edtech unicorn was looking to provide coding programmes for kids, an area of expertise for WhiteHat Jr.

It had stated it was also looking to make significant investments in WhiteHat Jr’s technology platform and product innovation while expanding the teacher base to cater to demand from new markets.

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