Byju’s in talks to raise $600 million, valuation may hit near $15 billion

BENGALURU: The funding rush in the online education sector does not seem anywhere near over. Edtech major Byju’s is set to raise around $600 million, mostly from US investors, at a valuation in the range of $14-15 billion, two people aware of the matter said. Once completed, this would also narrow the gap between two of the highest valued local startups — the Bengaluru-based Byju’s and Noida-based Paytm, which is currently the most valued Indian startup at $16 billion.
Byju’s was valued at $12 billion late last year when it raised $200 million from USbased investors T Rowe Price and BlackRock. But this is yet to be announced formally. Byju’s new fund-raise is also symbolic of the breakneck pace at which investors are backing digital businesses, especially online education, as they continue to grow significantly aided by pandemicinduced restrictions.
Currently, India is seeing a potential second wave of Covid cases and that might push more students to try platforms like Byju’s. “The new investors are largely from the US and they will participate along with existing investors,” a person aware of the development said. The deal would be completed in the next few weeks even as Byju’s closes its mega acquisition of Aakash Institutes, which runs offline coaching centres under the same name.

The new capital would be used for acquisitions in India and abroad. Global markets are expected to be important in future. Currently, Byju’s is also in the middle of acquiring smaller online rival Toppr in a mixed cash-andequity deal, as TOI reported last month.
“Some of the funding will be used for the Aakash acquisition,” another person aware of the details said.
A Byju’s spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.
Byju’s is estimated to have raised $1 billion in capital in 2020 alone and has triggered consolidation in the industry with its acquisitions. Last year, it also acquired code-learning startup WhiteHat Jr in a $300-million cash deal. The SoftBank-backed Unacademy, which is another prominent edtech startup, also bought multiple smaller startups throughout last year.
Vedantu and Eruditus are some of the other names in the space.
“There is some apprehension about retention of online learning with vaccination and schools re-opening, but clearly enough people are being bullish on Byju’s growth and changing dynamics of education online,” a venture capital investor said.
In 2020, the sector saw over $2 billion of capital being pumped in, compared to $426 million in 2019, according to data from Venture Intelligence.
Byju’s counts Tencent, Prosus Ventures, Sequoia, Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital, and General Atlantic, among others, as its investors.
Byju’s was started by Byju Raveendran in 2007 as an offline coaching class for Common Admission Tests (CAT) to enter the IIMs. Later, in 2009, several of his students joined him to start Think & Learn which tried the tablet-based format. This found significant traction after launching its app in 2015.
According to the company, it has doubled its revenues from $189 million in the financial year ending March 2019 to $378 million in the year ending March 2020. In September, it said it has 64 million registered students, of which 4.2 million are paid subscribers.

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