Byju’s acquisition spree of rival ed-tech startups is becoming something to behold.
Days after announcing the acquisition of US-based reading startup Epic for $500 million, Byju’s has now acquired professional upskilling platform for $600 million (Rs. 4,500 crore). The acquisition was through a cash-and-stock deal. Byju’s has also acquired rival Toppr for $150 million (Rs. 1,100 crore), with two-thirds of the transaction reportedly being in stock and the rest in cash.
“With this acquisition, we now have a big presence in three verticals — schools, test prep and the higher education and upskilling segment. Most of these platforms can be scaled up globally,” Byju’s founder CEO Byju Raveendran said of the Great Learning acquisition. “We’ll add more courses and also spend on creating brand awareness and going deeper into new markets where they’ve got good traction. Just like for test prep we depend on Aakash, for upskilling we’ll depend on Great Learning,” he added.
Great Learning had been founded in 2013 by Arjun Nair, Hari Nair and Mohan Lakhamraju. The company had created an online and blended learning platform to help working professionals develop relevant skills and accelerate their career progression. Great Learning’s programs are offered in partnership with Great Lakes Institute of Management and other universities, and the company courses around Big Data Analytics, an Executive MBA for working professionals, and other courses. Crucially, Great Learning was bootstrapped, and had ended FY 21 with a revenue run rate of $100 million (Rs. 700 crore). The platform now has 12 lakh users from 160 countries, and 40% of its revenue comes from outside India.
Toppr, on the other hand, was founded by investor Zeeshan Hayath in 2013, and competed directly with Byju’s. It provided learning solutions for school children, but failed to keep pace with Byju’s fundraising and marketing muscle. Toppr had raised $112 million through its lifetime, so its $150 million acquisition would mean Byju’s has acquired it relatively cheaply.
Byju’s now has acquired what could easily be the most formidable ed-tech portfolio anywhere in the world. Apart from its own offerings for schoolchildren, Byju’s now runs children-focused coding platform WhiteHat, exam preparation company Akash Institute, school learning platform Toppr, and professional upskilling platform Great Learning. Internationally, Byju’s runs online tutoring brand TutorVista, learning games company for kids aged 3-8 Osmo, and Epic, which is designed to encourage children under the ages of 12 to start reading books. Byju’s has now spent over $2 billion (Rs. 15,000 crore) in acquiring companies.
This is remarkable progress for a startup which only became a unicorn in 2018, but Byju’s has raised funds at a breathtaking pace since, and has deployed that money to acquire all manner of companies in the education space. If Byju’s can efficiently run these disparate businesses, and unlock synergies between them, it might be on its way of becoming the pre-eminent education company of this era.