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Reliance buys majority stake in edu-tech startup Embibe for $180 million

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries has acquired a majority stake in edu-tech startup Embibe. Reliance will invest US$180 million into Embibe for 72.69% of its shares (on fully diluted basis).

Embibe is an AI-based education platform leveraging data analytics to deliver personalised learning outcomes for students. The startup will use the capital over the next three years for research on AI in education, and for business growth and geographic expansion to include students in school, higher education, professional skilling, vernacular languages and all curriculum categories across India and internationally. The founder and CEO of Embibe, Aditi Avasthi will continue in her leadership role and will drive the growth of the business.

Embibe claims to have reached 15 million students. Its newly launched AI-driven education platform-as-a-service benefits 60 educational institutions from the private and public sectors in India, it claims.

Previously, Lightbox Ventures and Kalaari Capital have invested in this platform. In 2014, the two investors together provided the startup with a funding of $4 million. At the time, the company served as an e-learning and coaching platform, offering question papers of competitive exams and analysing students’ performance.

In 2015, Embibe acquired its competitor 100Marks, which was a student guidance platform. Founded in 2012 by Aditi Avasthi, Embibe was initially backed by Sandeep Murthy, who led the India investments of Silicon Valley VC firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sherpalo Ventures.

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Reliance’s investments

Reliance recently also bought a 16% stake for around $7 million, in KaiOS Technologies (KTI), the US-based company which provides the operating system for JioPhone. Reliance Retail paid around $3.6 for each of 19,04,781 common shares. KTI is an early stage revenue company, with turnover of $ 9.25 million in 2017 and $ 2.5 million in 2016.

Just weeks ago, Reliance also agreed to a deal to buy out music streaming platform Saavn for $104 million in cash and rest in stock, to merge it with its own digital music service JioMusic, valuing the combined streaming entity at about $1 billion. In the cash and stock deal, Reliance will hold roughly three-fourths of the merged entity, with JioMusic’s implied valuation at $670 million.

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